DecoChoco, custom chocolate straight from the game center

At the beginning of the year, we covered Tirol’s DecoChoco service, which encourages consumers to customize the packaging of these popular little chocolates with photos uploaded onto their PCs. Since the interface allows for decorating the photos with stamps and borders a la print club, we likened the service to the popular schoolgirl pastime of “purikura.” Now, however, Tirol has teamed up with innovative maker of print club machines Furyu, to offer the service directly from the arcade using actual print club photos.

Furyu print club machines offering the DecoChoco service have a function for users to input their mobile phone address (after the finishing decorative touches have been added). A text message is then sent to the indicated phone that contains a unique access link for a site where users can choose which of their prints to turn into candy wrappers and place an order. A set of 45 costs ¥2,362 and takes 2-3 weeks for delivery (no, delivery doesn’t usually take that long in Japan, these things are just really popular.)

Decorative print club stickers were emblematic of a whole generation of pre-mobile phone camera gyaru, but these days the clunky, stationary photo booths have a lot of competition as mobile phones allow users the same functions of print club and then some—meaning purikura needs to modernize or face extinction.

However what is perhaps more telling by this DecoChoco meets print club innovation is how it cuts out the PC, as the idea of going home and uploading the photos interrupts the immediate and social aspect of the experience. Since September, Tirol has offered its original PC-based DecoChoco service on mobile phones and with the print club element filling in for what the mobile is lacking (larger interface, increased decorating options, room for more than one user), the service is now finely tuned to meet the needs of the current generation of picture posing, chocolate chomping school girls (for whom, given their propensity for mobile phones, are just as likely to view the PC as clunky and stationary) .

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About the Author

Rebecca Milner was a contributor at ShiftEast.com, and is currently a Japan correspondent for Lonely Planet.