Finishing the First 10 Years of Mercari and Diving Into the Next 10 With Gratitude for Our Users
The Mercari marketplace app celebrated the tenth anniversary of its launch on July 2, 2023. We would like to thank the many people who have supported Mercari over the years and helped us get this far.
To mark the tenth anniversary and show our gratitude to our users, Mercari has launched the Mercari 10th Anniversary Project.
The four people who have led the project with a key message of ushering Mercari to a new decade of more fun for all, Saki Ikeda (@sakiccho) and Kaori Yamagishi (@yamachan) whose main duties are marketing, designer Tennis Hashimoto (@tennis), and web director Chika Minamide (@yan), answered our deep-diving questions.
Featured in this article
Saki IkedaSaki joined Mercari in 2017. She became obsessed with Mercari during her childcare leave for her second child, and she found herself joining Mercari as an employee when she returned to work. As an HR member, she contributed to hiring and training, after which she moved to the Marketing Team. Currently, she serves as the manager of the Customer Marketing Team, responsible for developing and planning customer touchpoints such as Mercari Workshop and Mercari’s official social media.
Kaori YamagishiKaori joined Mercari in 2019. After working on content planning and direction for Mercari’s owned media such as the Mercari Magazine and the official Twitter account, she became a PM for growth campaigns. She is now the leading director of Group-wide mass marketing strategies such as TV commercials and OOH ads. She is in charge of planning and leading the 10th Anniversary Project as the general PM.
Tennis HashimotoTennis joined Mercari in 2018, and has since been in the JP Creative Team as an art director and motion graphic designer. He has been in charge of a wide variety of visual material, ranging from graphics and videos inside the app to campaign and online ad material to mass marketing works and novelty goods for employees.
Chika MinamideChika joined Mercari in 2022. A member of the Creative Team, she is responsible for managing and operating Mercari’s websites such as the corporate site. She is in charge of directing the dedicated website and planning and producing the content for the assessment feature for the 10th Anniversary Project.
A project launched as a show of gratitude
──Okay, before we get started, I see sauna hats on your heads and some other fun items on the table, but I would like to ignore all of them and start asking my questions. (laughs) Can you tell us about how the 10th Anniversary Project started?
@yamachan: It started in a very chaotic way. (laughs) Securing the budget and resources was quite the struggle. (laughs)
@sakiccho: Up until the 5th anniversary of the service, we held some sort of celebratory event every year, but after that, there weren’t any teams who could take the initiative to do something, so we stopped. Last year, however, for the 9th anniversary, we quickly put together some creative material and posted it to Twitter, and it garnered more reactions than we initially expected.
We saw that many users were showing their appreciation. I remember being moved by seeing so many messages saying “Thank you” in such a short period of time. In return, we wanted to show our appreciation of our users the following year. Volunteers in the company who wanted to do something fun and interesting as a display of gratitude came together, which is how this project started.
Saki Ikeda (@sakiccho)
@yamachan: It was an undertaking that was going on while we all had our regular tasks. In that way, it was a little different than the usual projects that happen in our work. We gave it all we got though, didn’t we?
All: Yes we did!
@yamachan: I signed up to join the project because I personally thought there was a message here that we could deliver to our users only on the 10th anniversary. It took a while to solidify our statement for the project. I think around 1.5–2 months. When considering the most important message we could send on the 10th anniversary, we started thinking about the most important value our users have found in the Mercari service, and focused on putting that into words. We collaborated with external copywriters and ended up going through 12 drafts.
Kaori Yamagishi (@yamachan)
──12 drafts! So in the end, what do you think Mercari’s value is?
@yamachan: Mercari is a platform built and supported by its userbase. We believe each person uses it in their own unique way. Some people come across merchandise of their favorite artist, while others find excitement in seeing their listed items sell immediately.
We wanted to express such thrilling experiences with a statement and poppy visuals alongside our gratitude for our users, so we created the dedicated website.
One thing we all agreed upon was that we didn’t want to “show off” what a “grand occasion” the tenth anniversary is. We set out to cultivate the mood of a home party, where we would celebrate the long road we traversed together with our users.
@sakiccho: The idea of demonstrating how much variety Mercari’s platform offers was always around. When we were thinking about how to express our gratitude, we landed on the notion of thanking our users for making the platform what it is. So the message behind the concept of 100 people = 100 ways to use Mercari is “thank you for using Mercari in your unique way.”
@yamachan: We produced commercials for the 10th anniversary. Especially in the commercial titled “Thank You for 10 Years,” we worked together closely with the ad agency to visualize the variety of Mercari through the search words put in the huge search bar in the middle of the screen.
@sakiccho: Right. While the project was moving full speed ahead, @yamachan and myself went for a trip to a hot spring, and at the lodge we had a lot of fun coming up with search words. (laughs) I regularly search for “pineapple pattern” on Mercari, for example, which makes the recommendations tab on my front page very colorful and cute. We believe that every journey that led to one of our users coming across an item they bought began at the search bar.
@yamachan：We thought of search words that could accurately demonstrate how diverse these journeys were and proposed them. In the process of coming up with these words, the excitement we felt was only possible because of the sheer number and variety of items listed on the platform by all the people that have been using it.
A simple and fun way to express gratitude to users
──So your thoughts and feelings came together to form the dedicated website. What was going through your mind when building it?
@tennis: My top priority was to say “Thank you” to our users. We didn’t need any complicated statements or designs for that. Maybe I thought that way because I usually like things simple and easy. (laughs)
@yan: Initially there were illustration drafts in pastel colors, if I remember correctly. They had a softer vibe.
@tennis: Right. But it looked unnecessarily complicated to me. It just didn’t feel right for this occasion. We ultimately went back to primary colors and 3D, and I think we made it easy to understand as well as fresh for the eyes.
Tennis Hashimoto (@tennis)
@yan: Our external production partners also poured their heart and soul into the site. We contacted a company with whom we had earlier collaborations, and I am happy that we were able to create the site as it is now.
Our contact point at the partner company is also a daily user of Mercari, so they were able to produce a lot of ideas considerate of the user’s perspective. Some of their proposals even included elements or words that came up in earlier Mercari commercials. They really are an avid fan. Even though there are a lot of moving parts and many ideas incorporated into the site, it runs very smoothly, which is also impressive and speaks to their ability. We have been hearing praise internally and externally for not just the campaign but the performance of the site as well. I am truly thankful for the work they’ve done.
@sakiccho: @yan took a lot of initiative in proposing and producing so many ideas such as the assessment feature and the hidden pages on the site. People have been sharing their assessment results on social media, as well as spreading the word about the hidden pages. I feel like people have been enjoying the site.
@yan: Which I appreciate! I thought it would be a fun bonus to have hidden pages, and I am glad that we toiled over it until the last minute with our partner, finding the right ground between what we wanted and how they wanted to do it. It is the 10th anniversary after all, so we all wanted visitors to have as much fun with the site as possible, not wanting to leave it as another exhibition of static content.
Chika Minamide (@yan)
@tennis: The “assessment” we’re talking about is this feature where people can take a test to find their “hidden character.” It was born out of an idea to visually express the different types of Mercari users. I think we have unique and interesting users, so we ramped up their attributes to make them into characters and created some entertaining content out of it.
Examples of hidden characters
@yamachan: We put a lot of care into building the assessment feature because we didn’t want to come off as biased toward our userbase. @yan and @tennis did an amazing job keeping that in mind and creating these characters that have the entertainment value set to max! The work put out by Mercari’s Creative Team is truly a sight to behold, and they did everything in-house from planning to execution!
@sakiccho: Someone from outside the company who saw the site said that “it’s obvious the people who made it love Mercari very much,” and it made me so happy. But as each of us focused on what we wanted to do, things got a little chaotic. (laughs) But hey, it’s just another day at work for us!
──I see you also made some novelty goods with a bath theme for the 10th anniversary. Why a bath theme?
@tennis: I think we just had the impression that companies are supposed to gift people towels for anniversaries. The paper wrapping even says “here is a small gift” in polite Japanese. (laughs)
@yamachan: First, we wanted to make use of user data across all 47 prefectures to express the fact that people all over Japan are using Mercari every day. Mercari’s user data shows that the items bought and sold the most are different for each prefecture. We thought we could solicit people to think about their own region and what would be the most popular items there. Eventually that turned into the idea of gifting people towels, an item everyone has use for, as a token of appreciation for the continuous love and support Mercari has been given.
@sakiccho: But later we realized that our line of thinking may not be convincing enough to get budget approval from the powers that be, so while coming up with a way to link baths to Mercari’s tenth anniversary, we came up with the pun “Ariga-tou,” with “tou” being another way to read the kanji for “hot water.” It was a eureka moment and all project members were on board. We later came up with another, similar pun: “presen-tou,” this one being a wordplay on “present,” as in “gift.” In the end though, the dreaded question of “Why towels?” was never asked. (laughs)
A total of six types of novelty goods, with sauna hats, pouches, and plastic ducks in addition to towels
──So you came up with many creative ways to say “Thank you for these ten years!” Finally, what would you like people to expect from Mercari in the future?
@yamachan: I say look forward to the further evolution of Mercari, as its features are constantly updated one after the other. Recently we’ve released reaction features and templates for comments. If you’re reading this, give it a try. Also, I was very happy to see the hashtag #メルカリしてよかったこと (“why I appreciate Mercari”) trend on Twitter on the day the 10th Anniversary Project launched. We will keep listening to and communicating with our users, and hope that they will remain excited to use Mercari in the future as well.
@yan: Now that Mercari has passed its tenth anniversary, I hope that makes people feel like something new will come about. It was very fun working on the site. I want to keep striving to build more content and designs that are even more fun for our users.
@tennis: Mercari is fun! Please use it! That’s all from me. (laughs)
@sakiccho: I really like the bath merchandise we made for the project. I want to list the merch we made for this project on Shops, and make a living as someone who sells bathing goods.
This was a very fun shoot and interview! You all look great in this bath gear.
A simple message of “thank you” to Mercari users. The interview started with the intentions of providing more fun to users, but ended up being tightly packed with so much information. All in all, a very Mercari article. The most vivid impression the interview has left on the author was the sheer look of elated exhaustion on the faces of all four of the interviewees.
Perhaps the author is not entirely unbiased, but the author thinks that the campaign and the content will thrill you in some way or another, so please give it a look and have fun!