Making Cup Noodles Female-Friendly

Slurping away at a salty, oily, chemical infused cup of instant noodles is hardly the image one associates with Japanese women in their 20s. It also isn’t the image that Myojo and Toyo Suisan, two of Japan’s largest instant noodle producers, would like to promote as they attempt to break away from the typical male cup-noodle consumer and target Japanese women.

Image via cupnoodle.jp

Challenging Japan’s dominant instant noodle company Nissin (featured in the photo above) with 60% share of the cup-noodle market will not be an easy feat, but as Japan’s Nikkei Trendy recently revealed both Myojo and Toyo Suisan are breaking conventions with their  female friendly cup-noodle offerings (unlike the large masculine varieties you see bellow).

Image via hotel.jp

Myojo’s Quick One series designed to appeal to the busy working woman who does not have time to eat lunch outside the office or make dinner for the family during the weekdays as the Quick One cup noodle needs only one minute of hot water until its ready. Encouraging women to feed cup noodles to their families as a supplement for a real dinner is probably not how Myojo aims to sell their new product but the noodle’s fresh dried ingredients hopes to provide eaters with a healthier meal.

Unlike Myojo’s previous one-minute ready cup noodle offering Choppaya, the Quick One series offers women three unique flavours; chicken consumme, bouillabaisse and minestrone inspired by European cuisine for less than 198 Calories at 178 Yen (US$2) each.

Image via Nikkei Trendy Net

Launching in mid-February 2013, Myojo aims to create a buzz around the Quick One series with a tv commercial that portrays a depressed office lady (played by Shoko Nakagwa) who becomes happy after eating a cup of Quick One. Very original.

Toyo Suisan, the producers of the popular Maruchan instant ramen series are adopting a different approach by exclusively targeting women with their new Maruchan Hanauta brand hoping to exploit this untapped market.

Presenting cup noodles as fashionable and healthy aims to dispel Japanese women’s concerns, guilt and embarrassment about eating instant noodles as they are associated with men, junk food and laziness.

Image via Maruchan-Hanauta.jp (178Yen, US$2)

The packaging’s stylish shape and colourful floral print is supposed to appeal to Japanese women’s aesthetics whilst the ‘quality herb ingredients’ provokes a sense of health and relaxation. Both Hanauta’s Cammonile Salt and Rose Hip dan-dan Noodle flavours will be sold at Tokyu Hands around Japan from February 1st, 2013 for a limited trial period until hitting convenience stores and supermarkets nationwide in March.

The whole concept of taking masculine products and making them female friendly (while retaining the masculine base) has always been a tricky proposition. While more and more men are using beauty products without feeling effeminate, cup noodles, canned coffee, and other foods made for convenience and fast consumption have a hurdle to overcome their masculine “salaryman” image.

However with companies like fast food giant Yoshinoya making direct appeals to women with their “ladies beef bowl”, there’s a clear desire to expand into feminine territory.

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About the Author

Thomas is a pentalingual graduate of Modern East Asian Studies from the University of Hong Kong, now based in Japan as editor of Shifteast.com for Mandalah Tokyo.