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ASICS Chasing a 2020 Vision

Solution Id Length Case Author Case Publisher
2796 1518 Words (6 Pages) Elie Ofek, Nobuo Sato, Akiko Kanno Harvard Business School : 517060
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Although Nike and ADIDAS maintain sizable leads in the sportswear and footwear markets, other companies like ASICS are actively vying for the third spot in the footwear industry. Perhaps it is extremely important for small or moderate-tier businesses to function and attain a third position in the market due to the fierce rivalry and driving power of great giants. Despite the stiff competition, ASICS was able to gain ground on industry leaders Nike and ADDIDAS by releasing the world's first gel-infused running shoe. Despite continuing success in competing with the large giants of the US market, the company continues to struggle with difficulties related to maintaining a competitive position and a high profile for its brand. As a countermeasure, the company's leadership is working on a worldwide marketing strategy and implementing digital informatics across the company to better serve customers on both sides of the spectrum. Aside from that, ASICS intends to use its newly acquired runner keeper application to establish a market value chain.

Following questions are answered in this case study solution:

  1. The company is considering changes to the marketing mix of the core ASICS brand. What would you recommend going forward on issues such as: 

    i. Product line (e.g. introducing mid-tier ASICS running shoes at a much lower price point)

    ii. Channels to the market (e.g. increasing company owned retail stores)

    iii. Communications (e.g. changing the current ad campaign of "Want it more" and discontinuing sponsorship of NYC marathon)

  2. Was it wise for ASICS to acquire the fitness app RunKeeper? How can the company best leverage this new digital asset?

  3. Was it wise for ASICS to launch the lifestyle sub-brands Onitsuka Tiger and Asics Tiger? What is the most effective approach for marketing these sub-brands vis-a-vis the main ASICS brand?

  4. Do you feel the company is on the right track to achieving its 2020 goals?

Case Study Questions Answers

1. The company is considering changes to the marketing mix of the core ASICS brand. What would you recommend going forward on issues such as: 

i. Product line (e.g. introducing mid-tier ASICS running shoes at a much lower price point)

ASICS has long promoted itself as a company that caters only to runners. ASICS might win over the demographic it expects to become its primary customer base by developing a line of products priced in the middle of the market and emphasizing quality over quantity.

Considering that ASICS's reputation has been built in large part on the quality of the shoes it produces, it is imperative that the company keep its gel patent in the line in some capacity. For ASICS to reduce expenses, the company's engineers, shoe designers, and manufacturers will need to get together and come up with a sneaker that is both highly functional and inexpensive.

ii. Channels to the market (e.g. increasing company owned retail stores)

The new market segment requires a shift in focus to the middle-class customer when considering distribution options. First, a market analysis of middle-income consumers is required because of the importance of understanding their purchasing habits. ASICS must open company-owned retail storefronts in areas with the highest concentrations of middle-income consumers.

AI should be implemented at ASICS retail locations to track customer foot traffic, identify popular product categories based on customer interest, and then promote those areas with the greatest sales success.

Furthermore, online marketing and sales only account for 17% of ASICS' total revenue. ASICS needs to expand its online presence beyond RunKeeper if it wants to get a larger share of the millennial and Gen Z consumer markets.

iii. Communications (e.g. changing the current ad campaign of "Want it more" and discontinuing sponsorship of NYC marathon)

In more ways than one, ASICS's current "Want it More" advertising campaign is damaging to the company's reputation and bottom line. "Of course, we want to be a trusted performance brand, but also, we need to be a fun and exciting brand," Katsumi Kato remarked. But "Want it More" seems to veer away from that philosophy and instead targets "serious runners" and elite athletes. It also offers the "tough fitness" approach used by rival brands like Adidas in their advertising.

More importantly, since they ended a 25-year partnership with the New York City Marathon in order to reach a wider range of consumers and connect with them on an emotional level, the company's tagline needs to reflect both the company's core values and its understanding of the changing behaviors of its target audience. Their advertising should focus on four main themes: efficiency, enjoyment, health, and aesthetics.

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