Monday, March 15, 2010

Furoku? Kawaii!

Not too long ago, I read an article about how Singaporeans would buy Japanese magazines--not to read--but to collect the designer freebies (or furoku in Japanese) that come with it. Out of curiosity, I did just that.

Basically, if you don't read a single word of Japanese (which I don't), you are making a magazine selection based on its furoku--not what the magazine is about. I picked one that was giving away an Agnes B bag.

From the photograph on the magazine cover, you can't tell what the quality is like. I was quite sure, however, that the quality will not be all that great because it's a freebie after all. (An Internet article reported that the furoku is usually valued between 50-200Yen or S$0.77-S$3.) The Agnes B bag was made of muslin and the heart-shaped tag of cheap plastic. OK, so it isn't worth the S$17.90 I paid for the magazine.

But you know what, you certainly can't buy an Agnes B bag for S$17.90, and you can't find an Agnes B bag like this in the boutique. And consumers ARE passionate about the furoku. The furoku had been responsible for doubling--and even helped tripled--magazines' circulation when magazine sales were affected by free content on the Internet. Some people have even made a business of selling furoku items online (e.g. 1DesignerGift). Very enterprising....

I did try to find the content in "steady" relevant. OK, hmm, so I could layer my clothes this way to make it cute or I could point out a hairstyle I like to my hairdresser. But really, the only reason I'd ever buy a Japanese magazine again is because of its furoku.

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