Further flagship stores in other major cities – such as New York and Tokyo – as well as around 700 additional ‘brand locations’ and 100 stand-a-lone stores will open/re-open over the next three years. This multi-million pound store investment follows on from a 10% increase of sales in Asics own full-price stores in the first quarter of the year.
The London work is then being followed by the international #IMove roll out via a dual global/dual approach in various markets around the world and different approaches will be applied in different cities. The longer term plan is for ‘I Move Me’ to at least run up tot he 2020 Tokyo Olympics (of which Asics is a sponsor) and possibly beyond.
It will be fascinating to see how the flagship physical shop phase of the strategy works at a time when many of Asics’ rivals are currently prioritising their ecommerce operations.
The new approach aims to reinterpret founder Kihachiro Onitsuka’s philosophy for the next consumer generation.
Onitsuka, a beer bootlegger and serial entrepreneur, began a basketball shoe business post World War Two which evolved in Asics in 1977 with the idea thatsport could relieve distress – the name is an acronym for the Latin motto ‘ ‘Anima Sana In Corpore Sano / A Sound Mind In A Sound Body’.
Paul Miles, Asics head of global marketing, Paul Miles, argues that brand refresh doesn’t so much represent a strategic shift, but rather a modern articulation of its long-established principles.
“Brand purpose is core to our DNA, it is our mission, and we haven’t been able to tell that story well to a larger audience before,” explains Miles.
“A lot of people see us as a very technical running brand, which is great because people trust us for that – but it’s not all about that, we’re not just about that.”
Miles admits that in the past the brand has struggled to communicate its purpose effectively and that much of its consumer reputation has been forged in producing high quality technical running gear, rather than through a more emotional consumer connection.
“We needed to have a way to talk about all our brands and our philosophy at one time. We don’t see I Move Me as a campaign, it’s an articulation of our mission to get people moving,” he outlines.
“We’ve always been seen as highly technical, with all the gear people need for long-distance running, and people trust us on this and we’re proud of that. Core performance sports will never go away for us because that’s really part of our DNA. But it’s not all we do. We have more product and services we want to deliver and we haven’t really talked about them before.”
“An emotional connection is something that is really important to us. We have always been very stoic [in our messaging] in terms of our technology and that is very important but this emotional connection and engagement we haven’t been able to do so well.”