Interbrand
Thinking

Q&A with Hikaru Sato, Senior Officer, Head of Strategy at Asahi

expert perspective

Hikaru Sato
Executive Officer
Head of Strategy
Asahi Group Holdings, Ltd.

How will the brand be positioned in future operations?

The base for the Asahi brand lies in the Asahi Group Philosophy (AGP), and as the social environment undergoes great changes, we are cognizant of the increasing importance of the corporate brand. The spread of coronavirus has resulted in customers being forced to make purchase decisions in a shorter amount of time. There have also been increasing opportunities for employees to examine their motivations for working. The corporate brand becomes increasingly important at times like these. And we need to exceed customer expectations. Both the company and each employee can therefore grow. We believe that the AGP can be a bridge between customer expectations and employee involvement. We want to do more to realize the conceptual thinking behind the AGP.

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?

The aspirations within the corporate brand have not changed, but the scope of what is represented by Asahi is expanding. Among what customers expect to brands, factors such as social contribution and sustainability are increasing globally. It is no longer simply about the taste of our products. Moving forward, we must be very much aware of how people will associate Asahi with contributions to society and sustainability. We have continued our involvement in diverse activities for our stakeholders. We have been out in front within this industry when it comes to sustainability but we need to re-evaluate whether that is being clearly communicated to our customers and to our employees and connect it to our engagement efforts.

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What do you feel is most important when it comes to further increasing the value of the corporate brand?

I think it will be critical to exceed customer expectations. How can we do that? We need to go beyond the emotional image of a cool corporate brand. There is more we can do to build on what Asahi is doing to realize a better society (which in itself might be considered cool). We also can do more at the practical level. And we must adopt the same approach internally as we do for our customers. It will also be important for employees that participate in related corporate activities to be proud of that work and to see the growth in it. Their resulting confidence will then lead to more growth. What is needed is for the philosophical components of the AGP to be part of our embodied efforts that we continue to build on, such that all of our executives, from the CEO to regional leaders, can re-emphasize how the AGP is at the core of our corporate brand.

Are there any concrete action items being planned for future corporate brand growth?

It is imperative that we create mechanisms for corporate brand evaluations that go beyond complacency and can incorporate both stakeholder and external viewpoints. Regarding sustainability initiatives, we will build a system that can catch up on best practices by taking advantage of the global business scale, for example, by utilizing the great practices of European companies in Japan. We are going to continue to strengthen ways to internally promote the AGP, including efforts to establish a system for recognition.