There is an interesting product profile on Nikkei Trendy of Yamazaki's "lunch pack" series.
Yamazaki Baking Co. is the largest bread manufacturer in Japan. I don't really like the mass produced bread sold in Japan, but that is really the fault of consumer preference. The white breads are very bland and the crust is removed prior to packaging in many cases. These "lunch packs" are a good idea though. Basically, the lunch packs are two pieces of bread mashed together around the edges with something stuffed inside. Here is my list of some of the interesting points made in the article:
1) this product was first introduced in 1984. With the extremely high turnover of most products in Japan, a 24 year history as a best seller is very impressive indeed.
2) over the years, there have been several hundred versions introduced. That sounds like a lot, but product renewal in Japan happens as fast as product turnover, so this is not really that surprising. It does make one curious to see a list of the interesting variations that must have been introduced over the years. No such list is provided. They do however mention the two most popular varieties though - peanut butter and egg salad.
3) the main reasons cited for the product variety are the desire to have enough variations so that people can buy the product daily without getting tired of the same thing every day and also the products which are only sold in certain regions of Japan (something food companies do frequently in Japan).
4) the marketers first thought, as would I, that the main market for these products would be men who want a quick lunch, but they found that women were the main consumers. The reason turned out to be the appeal to women of a portable light lunch.
5) the article claims that the result of the marketing plan focusing on women has taken the sales in 2001 (0.59 billion yen per year) to a projected 40 billion yen in 2008. Wow!
6) around one million packs are produced every day.