Fukubukuro is an amalgamation of two Japanese words, fuku, which means ‘good luck’ and bukuro, which means ‘bag’.
These ‘lucky bags’ (also known as ‘happy bags’) are a Japanese new year custom, whereby retailers and brands make mystery bags filled with products and sell them for a substantial discount - usually 50% or more off the list price.
The bags are typically sealed, so you can’t peep inside.
As a way to curb the crowds and appease super loyal customers, some stores offer a pre-booking fukubukuro service, where you can place an order for the bag and have it put aside for you to pick up without having to wait in line.
After all, most popular Japanese districts will typically look like this on January 1st...
So where does the crazy come from?
Lucky bags started as a way for stores to get rid of unwanted stock in the new year, however, today, it’s seen as more of a promotional move than a practical one.
Isetan - one of the large department stores in Tokyo - has previously sold fukubukuros with wedding gowns and plane tickets to Hawaii. Sign us up.
These days, more global and luxury brands are starting to take part in the lucky bag craze.
This year, fashion brands Burberry, Michael Kors, Jimmy Choo, Fendi and Valentino all took part, along with sportswear brand Under Armour and adidas.
Beauty brands are at it too, with cosmetics brands such as Mac, Shiseido, Diptyque, YSL and Sephora all getting in on the hype this year.
The shopping craze has also spawned its own YouTube genre - the ultimate of all unboxing videos.
Which retailers and brands made noise in 2019?
T Galleria by DFS
Retailer T Galleria by DFS prepared 1,500 boxes for their Fukubukuro event with luxury items discounted by up to 70 percent.
Brands like Burberry, Marc Jacobs, Maison Kitsune, Ralph Lauren, Estee Lauder, Bobbi Brown, and Clinique all took part in the huge promotional day through T Galleria.
One of the most prominent lucky bags across social this year was from Starbucks.
With Sakura round the corner, Starbucks says the contents of the bag have been curated around the brief ‘Go Out With Star-bucks’, making it perfect for picnics in the park (one of the more popular ways to celebrate Sakura).
The bag contains 4 x drink vouchers, each redeemable by up to 610 yen, which is already close to half the cost of the bag itself.
Fans of the fast-food chain have been taking to social media to share their McDonald’s lucky bag (the new happy meal). This year’s bags contained a thick booklet of vouchers totalling 3,000 yen (around £22) amongst other collectible McMemorabillia (tat).
Those lucky enough to grab a Uniqlo bag were surprised to see some contained limited-edition KAWS x Sesame Street collectibles.
adidas have had another successful year targeting those who want to turn over a new fitness leaf in the New Year.
To celebrate the new year, Apple gave away gift-cards with select purchases. The promotion felt a little bit of a let down compared to previous years, where lucky bags were priced around $300, contained MacBook Airs, Ipads and other devices and accessories.
What’s the opportunity in 2020?
Looking across social media, there are no brands or retailers creating beautiful, stand out, Instagrammable lucky bags. This is a a mega opportunity for 2020.
So, if you'd like help in creating a contemporary, collectible lucky bag for your brand, or if you want to be the brand featured within the most 'unboxed' video on YouTube come January 1st, we can help.
You can drop the studio a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.