One of the more successful companies to emerge from Japan is Yakult, the maker of drinkable yogurt beverages that has managed to become a part of the daily lives of millions of people around the world. Every few days I hear the sound of a bicycle outside my window at J-List and I know the Yakult lady is here to sell us healthy yogurt drinks, which we buy for all our employees. Yakult (the word is Esperanto for “yogurt”) got its start in the 1930s when company founder Dr. Minoru Shirota developed a strain of special bacteria to help improve the health of patients at his hospital. Now the company operates in 32 countries, in such places as France, Germany, Thailand, Vietnam and India, and sells 30 million tiny bottles of yogurt goodness a day, all based on the original strains developed in Japan. One of their primary innovations has been the Yakult lady herself, a friendly woman on a bicycle with a chilled compartment of healthy beverages on the back. When she smiles and asks if you’d like to make a purchase today, it’s hard to say no to her.
Yakult is a famous brand all over the world. Naturally there are Internet memes.