Case Study

Yoshinoya achieved 18x sales in 3 years with help from Itsumo

Japanese bowl with sauteed meat and onions

Yoshinoya Holdings Co., Ltd., founded in 1899, has been selling frozen gyudon toppings for more than 20 years in response to customer demand.

In 2017, Yoshinoya started selling their products in the Amazon store to expand their sales channels. Initially, the company operated in-house by using their knowledge of digital retail to sell products in the Amazon store. In April 2019, Yoshinoya set a goal of achieving return on ad spend (ROAS) of 800% or more, and began a partnership with Itsumo Inc., an agency that has experience with Amazon Ads.

Itsumo is an advertising agency that supports the business growth of their clients through a wide range of services such as websites, advertising strategies, campaign management, and video content production. Itsumo is also familiar with digital retailers in Japan, and is a registered advanced partner in the Amazon Ads Partner Network.

From Sponsored Products to multiple ad solutions

At the beginning of the partnership, Yoshinoya only managed Sponsored Products, and in some placements, they were not winning bids for their own branded keywords. Itsumo decided to continue investing more in the brand’s Sponsored Products campaigns to help increase discoverability for Yoshinoya’s own products.

Itsumo also knew that by using Sponsored Brands, Yoshinoya’s products may be featured in placements in the shopping results, which could help lead to increased awareness of their products. The agency eventually noticed that Yoshinoya’s product detail pages needed improvements. For example, the pages for Yoshinoya’s cooked rice cans did not clearly state the product was cooked rice. By improving the product detail page and promoting the product using a Sponsored Brands video, this detail became evident. In addition, Itsumo set up Yoshinoya’s brand Store on Amazon and began transitioning from branded keywords to Yoshinoya’s product detail pages so that the product listings would be retail-ready.

After using both automatic targeting and product targeting methods on Yoshinoya’s Sponsored Products campaigns, it was clear that their gyudon products were being purchased with other frozen foods. Therefore, Itsumo selected manual targeting for the ASINs that led to conversion, and they improved ad impressions against frozen foods. Itsumo also created custom images that made the gyudon products look more appealing by adding a visual steam effect above the food in the photos.

Using new Amazon Ads products and features

Itsumo uses various Amazon Ads products for Yoshinoya and also actively adopts Amazon Ads features that are newly available in Japan. Whenever a new Amazon Ads product or feature is released, Itsumo calculates the potential impact from its adoption before submitting a proposal to Yoshinoya. Even after bringing in a new Amazon Ads product or feature, Itsumo carefully checks the exposure and keywords of ads to verify whether the results are as expected, and regularly gives updates to Yoshinoya.

For example, in August 2021, when Sponsored Display became available to sellers, Itsumo immediately used the product. To optimize ad placements, they delivered ads using views remarketing and purchases remarketing. Itsumo specified the brand terms to make ads visible to shoppers browsing for Yoshinoya and other similar brands. With Sponsored Display audiences, the strategy was set to reengage audiences who viewed product detail pages for products similar to the advertised product, to help increase the number of impressions.

With these initiatives, Itsumo discovered that ads from other brands were displayed on Yoshinoya’s product detail pages in Sponsored Display placements. Therefore, Itsumo refined the category targets by brand so that Yoshinoya ads would be easier to find through brand nomination. The early adoption of Sponsored Display ads helped drive a greater-than-expected performance on conversion rates (CVR) and ad-attributed sales.

By January 2022, after just five months, ad-attributed sales increased 4.8x, and sales from new-to-brand customers increased 4.5x.1

Increasing sales 18x in three years

Since Yoshinoya began their partnership with Itsumo, the brand has gone from focusing on Sponsored Products to using a variety of Amazon Ads products such as Stores, Sponsored Brands, Sponsored Brands video ads, and Sponsored Display. When using multiple Amazon Ads products, Itsumo uses bulk operations to collectively adjust bid amounts to improve the efficiency of advertising operations. As a result, the advertising cost of sales (ACOS) ratio improved from 16.8% to 14.2% in the three years since the measures were taken, and ad-attributed sales increased roughly 18x during the same period.2

Itsumo consultant Yuki Sanada credits selecting the right Amazon Ads products for the advertiser’s objectives to help increase sales.

quoteUpIt’s important to continually improve plan, do, check, act [PDCA] cycles to determine what kind of products are suitable for a brand's goal.quoteDown
— Yuki Sanada, consultant, Itsumo Inc.

1-2 Source: Yoshinoya, Japan, 2022.