Q&A with Yasuhito Hirota, President and COO of Asics
Mr Yasuhito Hirota
President and COO
How will the brand be positioned in future operations?
For ASICS, a brand is something that should be conveyed through products and communication, and is a testament to the trust and promise of society and customers. In other words, the brand is the most important of all intangibles (intangible assets), and we believe that increasing the value of the brand is a management issue.
As you strive for brand growth in this new era, what are viewpoints that need to be changed from the past, and what viewpoints haven’t changed?
In October of last year, ASICS formulated “VISION 2030” a long-term vision for the 10 years through 2030. What we declared here is our vision to evolve ASICS, which has been developing businesses mainly targeting “performance athletes” into a brand that advocates for the realization of a world in which anyone can engage in sports, throughout their lives, and stay healthy mentally and physically.
As a result, ASICS expanded its business domain beyond “Products” to provide “Facilities and Communities” and “Analysis and Diagnostics” based on data. At the same time, we connect all of our business domains with the themes of “Digital”, “Personal” and “Sustainable” and use digital technology to deliver products optimized for each and every customer using sustainable methods.
On the other hand, our passion for our founding philosophy of “a healthy mind is nurtured in a healthy body” will not change in the future. We have just started a global brand campaign under the brand slogan “Sound Mind, Sound Body” which expresses this spirit.
What do you feel is most important when it comes to further increasing the value of the corporate brand?
Above all, we are going to be “Sports x Digital” from now on. One example is the Virtual Ekiden Race “ASICS World Ekiden2020,” where approximately 50,000 people from 13,602 teams in 179 countries around the world participated amid COVID-19, and where the coaching service using wearable devices for running was created through co-creation projects with Casio Computer.
In the future, we want to create a running ecosystem that offers not only devices, but also competition entries, food care based on data analysis and training advice. At the same time, we will create a community of people who love sports. This is a cross between real and virtual.
More than anything else, it is important for employees themselves to practice “Sound Mind, Sound Body.” We are also trying to urge on our employees.
Are there any specific actions you plan to take in order to grow your brand?
We will focus on activities that embody the “Digital”, “Personal” and “Sustainable” themes mentioned earlier. As I just said, in the field of digital, I would like to innovate on the side of “Personal,” for example, by changing the way shoes are designed, where it is common to match feet to ready-made sizes. With regard to the “Sustainable”, we are not taking a broad stance. Instead, we will work to reduce CO2 emissions by using recycled materials and automating manufacturing processes, motivated by a life-size sense of crisis that we cannot enjoy sports in an environment that is too hot. A new brand for women is also under consideration.