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Brief Published: 13 Apr 2015

Virtual Dining Partner

Takumi Saitoh

As part of a promotional campaign, Japanese instant noodle company Nissin Foods (makers of the Cup Noodle) has launched a website that provides solo diners with a virtual companion to share their meal.

The website features a video of Japanese actor Takumi Saitoh, who appears to watch the diner prepare and then eat their instant noodles. Once users have poured boiling water onto their instant noodles, they click a start button, which counts down for three minutes until the food is ready to eat. Saitoh then entertains diners as they eat their meal with a range of gestures, such as blowing on their noodles and grinning.

Driven by an increase in snacking and on-the-go dining, almost half (46%) of all adult eating occasions are now solitary, according to US market research firm Hartman Group.

In South Korea, 'mok-bang' (solo diners streaming themselves eating vast amounts of food across peer-to-peer video networks) has become a huge phenomenon. Food operators and retailers are also using technology to reconnect families and friends who live apart. Hot-pot franchise Hai Di Lao in China enables users to virtually dine with friends or family using video-conference technology. For more on this, see Future Family Dining.

For more on Japanese marketing trends, see The Japanese Marketing Landscape.