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Vice Head of Global Marekting
Marc Pinsard is Deputy Senior General Manager of Global Marketing at ASICS and also co-leads the company’s task force for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics. Based in Kobe, Japan, Pinsard joined ASICS in 2009 with the mission to create the global marketing function at the company headquarters and to drive and execute ASICS’ global marketing strategy. He is currently in charge of its global brand management.
Pinsard has more than 20 years of international experience in the sporting goods industry, having served executive roles in sales, marketing, business development and general management to accelerate growth and turnaround initiatives at Babolat and Reebok in Japan, APAC and North America for 14 years prior to joining ASICS.
He has a bachelor’s degree in business economics, marketing and sales and a master’s degree in international management and Japanese business and culture. He is also the chairperson of the World Federation of Sporting Goods Industry’s Committee on International Sports Organizations, which represents the industry toward all sports federations and organizations, including the International Olympic Committee.
Please provide some information about your background and how it has prepared you for your current role at ASICS.
I currently serve as Vice Head of Global Marketing for ASICS Corporation and co-lead the Tokyo 2020 Olympics/Paralympics task force. I have had the opportunity to spend my whole career (more than 20 years) in the sporting goods industry in Japan, Asia and the U.S. This gave me the chance to be exposed to different cultures and ways of working and getting things done in different settings.
I began my career at Babolat, within the Japanese national distributor’s structure, before moving to Hong Kong to set up a regional office for APAC, and I managed the North American subsidiary of this small, family-owned business. I then led marketing in Japan for the Reebok brand, which is owned by adidas Group, before joining the global head office for ASICS to help strengthen the brand globally and set up the global marketing function.
The opportunity to work for brands on a national, regional and global level has helped me to gain a pragmatic approach to balancing global/local tensions and variations, ensuring that key global direction is executed with flexibility at the regional and local levels to maximize relevance and business opportunity. Being involved in sales, marketing, business development, sourcing and general management roles before joining ASICS has also helped me to approach the marketing role from the perspective of focusing our efforts on supporting the business. In addition, working in Japan for seven years and successfully collaborating with colleagues from various continents (Europe, North America and APAC) has helped me to bridge the line of thinking between the Japan-based headquarters and our different regions.
As ASICS has been ranked among the top global brands in Japan, what are some of the steps that the brand has taken to build and strengthen its perception among consumers?
Indeed, ASICS has been ranked among the top 30 best Japanese global brands by Interbrand since the inception of that ranking in 2009, with our brand value growing faster than our sales from 2009 to 2016. One of the keys to achieving this status has been placing focus on fewer categories to create more exposure and impact. For instance, we have been bolder in our focus on sports marketing (sponsoring the Tokyo 2020 Olympics/Paralympics, IAAF and FIVB federations, Springboks and Wallabies rugby national teams, etc.) whereas previously, we supported many events, athletes and teams that were less well known but consumed a lot of our resources. We also ensure that our sports marketing assets are properly activated to ensure brand attribution and that they help to build brand equity and support commercial success by equipping our sponsored teams and athletes with products or technologies that we want to promote.
In addition, we have shifted our marketing budget allocation toward more media, digital and content creation to build brand awareness and create a stronger emotional connection with our consumers. We also align our marketing strategy and positioning across all regions and have introduced global consumer segmentation and a global KPI dashboard to objectively measure performance versus goals, identify best practices and roll out in other markets. To become even more relevant with young consumers, we also update our brand guidelines while remaining firmly grounded in the company's DNA and founding principles.
What is your brand promise, and how do you ensure that promise is communicated consistently to consumers in different parts of the world?
ASICS was founded in 1949—post-World War II in Japan—at a time when the youth was depressed. Our founder, Kinhachiro Onitsuka, was so inspired by Juvenal's proverb, "Anima Sana In Corpore Sano" (a sound mind in a sound body, which eventually became the acronym for ASICS), that he decided to dedicate his life to create hope, optimism and a better life for youth by engaging them in sports and physical activity.
We tell the ASICS story on our website and have incorporated it into areas of our stores, and we just launched a new global, multi-year brand campaign called "I MOVE ME," which builds upon the purpose of creating hope, optimism and a better life but expresses this message in a more contemporary way.
How is technology being integrated in your offerings, and how is that changing the way you view and position the ASICS brand?
Technology and innovation are at the heart of everything we do. We have an Institute of Sport Science with more than 100 scientists, who not only ensure that we have a constant, strong pipeline of innovations, but also that all of the products we launch are superior to their contemporary versions and/or the competition's offerings.
Currently, we are going through a digital transformation, which included the purchase of FitnessKeeper last year. We are ensuring that we engage consumers in the right way, at the right time and in the right manner based on the target consumer’s journey and preferences.
As a gold partner for the 2020 Olympics, what are some of the ways that ASICS will be featured and adding value for the athletes, attendees and viewers of the Olympics?
We will be equipping all 80,000-plus volunteers and the Japanese athletes for the Podium, Opening and Closing Ceremonies at the Tokyo 2020 Games. We are planning to launch new technologies and products around this timing as well because we believe that Tokyo 2020 can be a catalyst for significant change for decades to come, just as the 1964 Tokyo Games were with the introduction of the Shinkansen (bullet train) and other revolutionary concepts. We will be involved in activating our sponsorship by ensuring that consumers can enjoy a great experience not only in the stadium as they watch the athletes perform, but also outside of the venues themselves.
Looking toward the future, what goals, transformations, and challenges will you be prioritizing throughout the next year?
Our key ongoing opportunity consists of continuing to build brand equity and affinity with our target consumers so that they understand, like and share our messages. Consumer insights around the world indeed reveal that the millennial generation shares values that are deeply anchored in ASICS’ DNA, so we need to do a better job of telling our story in an engaging manner while closely monitoring data to help us understand what is working and what needs to be improved in our communications strategy with consumers.