Yakult flies off shelves because of feature in Netflix movie ‘To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before’

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Photo: Instagram screengrab Nicole W. Longue

Step aside, Crazy Rich Asians. The newest craze from Asia that people are raving about is the probiotic drink that Singaporeans have known and loved for years—none other than the humble, but beloved, Yakult.

Yakult is not actually named in the Netflix romcom, To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before. It’s handed to Peter Kavinsky, the film’s male protagonist as a “Korean yogurt smoothie,” and he’s seen taking a drink from a bottle that is distinctly Yakult. Plus, the drink’s red foil cover makes it instantly recognizable. He enjoys it very much indeed, and says in the film, “Oh wow, that is really good.”

Twitter users from various Asian countries were the first to take note of this, taking screenshots of Peter with the Yakult bottle and then tweeting them.

Because Yakult has been mentioned more frequently on Twitter since “To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before” was released last month, this has caused the shares of Yakult’s stock have grown by 2.6 percent. This was good news for the parent company, which is actually Japanese and not Korean, since shares decreased by 6 percent earlier this year.

On Monday, September 3, Yakult’s stock closed 1.7 percent higher than it had since the end of July. The head of M Science’s TickerTags, Mark Bachman, said “Given the increasing conversation levels, we believe Yakult is achieving greater brand awareness, which should likely result in higher sales volume.”  M Science’s TickerTags is a company that evaluates the connection between the performance of a company and its presence on social media.

Not only that, merchandise bearing Yakult’s image have also been enjoying a surge in popularity, as people are buying Yakult art, stickers and other items online.

The probiotic drink was invented in 1930 by a Japanese scientist named Minoru Shirota, who grew a bacterial strain that thrived in the human digestive system. He named the strain after himself, calling it Lactobacillus casei Shirota. Yakult is widely sold in Asia and in certain other parts of the world such as Brazil, where Yakult ladies sell the drink door to door.

While there is no scientific evidence that probiotic drinks are beneficial to otherwise healthy grownups, the market for probiotic drinks was $45 billion in 2017.

As for the movie, To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before  is based on a young-adult novel series by Jenny Han and opened to positive reviews on Netflix on August 17, 2017.

Yakult is manufactured in small bottles in order to prevent contamination, and is only available in various flavors such as grape, orange and apple in Singapore. It’s popularity in Singapore in unparalleled, as seen by a father who took to social media last month to complain when his favorite store ran out of the probiotic drink.