Speaking at the recent Advertising Week event in Japan, the beauty giant’s head was clear that he sees Japan’s failure to value and to develop its marketing to be behind the country’s ever-weakening position within the international business arena.
"Even among quite big consumer companies, marketing is often just a small part of the sales function. We are talking about strategic marketing,” he explained.
“For us to position consumers at the centre of what we do, all functions have to work together to build the values of a brand. That means having P&L responsibility. Building a brand is a business.”
Building a brand
Uotani noted that tellingly, Japan lags behind other countries in recognising the value of CMOs: 65% of Fortune 500 companies have an appointed CMO, while only 10% of Japanese companies do.
He sees marketing as an essential investment, and advises brands against skimping on branding efforts to cut overheads, even when market conditions are tough.
"When we see tough times ahead, we have to be more aggressive in our marketing activities," he said. "It’s easy to cut promotions to protect the bottom line, but we’re going to suffer from that."
Uotani perceives a CEO to be a central player in building a brand, but was also keen to reiterate Shiseido’s recently-announced global strategy: decentralising management and putting an emphasis back onto regional innovation.
"You may say this is common for global companies," he said. "I agree. But for Japanese companies, it’s a huge challenge."
The beauty industry leader’s comments suggest Uotani believess that a global brand identity needs to be built up at a local level, and echoes the brand’s ongoing push for a global presence as part of its Vision 2020 strategy.
"It is our goal to deliver the innovative products developed based on the insights and values of our consumers around the world," the company has previously confirmed.