Case Study:
Coffee Culture


The standard global value proposition of a high-end coffee maker was not chiming well with Japanese consumers. Yuzu Kyodai’s help was requested, to make the brand more relevant in Japan’s current coffee space. Previous qualitative research had identified general trends, but the specifics of both Japan’s coffee culture and individuals’ relationship with it had remained elusive. The challenge was therefore to reinvent and reinvigorate the brand itself, and to find its relevance for Japanese consumers.


How do Japanese consumers define quality in coffee? What can we learn from the fact they overwhelmingly drink drip coffee? Why is coffee in Japan usually seen as a ‘switching off’ moment, rather than a morning boost?

Cultural mapping gave us our insight into Japan’s coffee space. We looked at its moments and key touch points, its aesthetics and vocabulary, and how broader cultural and social shifts have affected its evolution. But we also looked beyond the coffee category: elements drawn from tea culture, definitions of good food, and the changes in consumers’ relationship with spaces away from home and work.


  • Consumer insight
  • Semiotics (cultural mapping)
  • Communication strategy
  • Design and execution (visual language and vocabulary; creative brief for agencies)


Our work has changed the way the brand communicates in Japan, laying the basis for an entirely new look and feel in its visual language and vocabulary. We also created a new tagline that is now used in all the brand’s advertisements and marketing, in the process increasing its appeal to new customer segments.