Interbrand
Thinking

Q&A with Tomomi Fukumoto, Executive Officer of Suntory

expert perspective

Tomomi Fukumoto
Executive Officer
Division COO, Corporate Sustainability Division
Suntory Holdings Limited

How will the brand be positioned in future operations?

With the rapid development of DX in the wake of the novel coronavirus, the nature of human beings and their ideal forms are being paradoxically reconsidered. People are beginning to ask themselves about the balance between their personal affluence and the sustainability of the natural environment, and they are seeking for “the genuine richness of a human life,” that is more than just to meet the essential needs such as food and clothing. As a result, I feel that companies are now being asked about what genuine value they can provide to society.

As a Beverage & Food company, safety and trust are our major preconditions, thus we must further create a solid foundation for this. Beyond meeting these requirements, the unique value provided by our company must be clearly recognized by the consumer’s mind, and we must make the consumers think of us as an “indispensable company.” I believe that is the brand and the meaning of existence for a company.

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 our company’s Corporate Motto established in 1973, there is the phrase, “Inspiring the brilliance of life.” Suntory’s goal since its founding is not just to quench the thirst of people, but also to refresh their mind and provide a fulfilling time. Our social and cultural activities are part of that. While we have worked to let western liquor take root in Japan, we have been trying to make people’s daily lives fulfilling and spiritually rich as well. This will remain the same in the future, and we are keen to convey this more to our consumers.

In recent years, I feel that people are expecting companies to engage in activities that make them feel happier on a daily basis, and to become closer to their daily lives. Suntory has been providing diverse value to society, and we believe that we should also reinforce our approaches to make people feel closer to us.

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

“Mizu To Ikiru,” literally translated as “Living with Water,” is a promise we make to our consumers and society to realize our mission, “To create harmony with people and nature.” We infuse three meanings to this: our promise to nature, society, and lastly the employees themselves challenging constantly with flexibility. We have particularly put our efforts into conveying the importance of “nature sustainability.” The importance is unchanging through the future, but in light of the current social situation, I feel it is necessary for Suntory to communicate more clearly the values we aim to provide to society.

We would like to strengthen our communication by focusing on the idea, “Inspiring the brilliance of all lives including human beings,” that is one of the biggest key concepts along with “nature sustainability,”

Are there any specific actions you plan to take in order to grow your brand?

We believe it will become more important not only to expand our corporate activities, but also to convey Suntory’s philosophy through our products and product communications, which are the biggest points of contact with our consumers. For example, through our product brand “Tennensui (Natural Mineral Water),” we have set its brand vision as “recovery of humanity,” and developed a product communication that gives our consumers a sensation of clear water and nature. At the foundation of this, we place the philosophy of “Mizu To Ikiru.” At the same time, we have deployed communications to convey our corporate behavior through activities such as “Natural Water Sanctuary” programs, our water resource cultivation initiative, as part of our corporate communications. Through these ways, we would like to strengthen activities that would connect our corporate brand with our product brands.