Guided by its vision of being “The Global Leader in Hobby Entertainment”
President and Representative Director,
BANDAI SPIRITS CO., LTD.
BANDAI SPIRITS CO., LTD. will strive to achieve further growth.
BANDAI SPIRITS handles the Toys and Hobby business for the mature fan base. In April 2019, the company merged with BANPRESTO CO., LTD. with the objective of enhancing market initiatives and accelerating overseas business operations. On this basis, BANDAI SPIRITS is aiming to further expand its business. In this section, BANDAI SPIRITS President Yusuke Fukuda discusses management policies, focus products, and other issues.
Would you describe the major business activities of BANDAI SPIRITS?
Fukuda: The vision of BANDAI SPIRITS is to be “The Global Leader in Hobby Entertainment.” On that basis, we focus on products for the mature fan base, and we are active in a wide range of areas in the entertainment industry. Previously, our business activities were centered on the hobby business, where we rolled out Gundam and other plastic models, as well as the collectible items business, such as figures and robots, and the lottery-related products business, which handles Ichiban Kuji and other products. However, through the recent merger with BANPRESTO, we have now added the crane game machine prize business. Moving forward, in each of our businesses, we will aim to maintain and increase a No. 1 position in Japan, while taking steps to bolster our business activities in overseas markets. For example, the overseas action figures market is more than 10 times the size of the Japanese market, and the rate of growth is high. Accordingly, we can look forward to substantial growth opportunities. Moving forward, we will aggressively take on challenges in overseas markets. In particular, we have positioned China and North America as markets where we will target significant growth.
What are the strengths of BANDAI SPIRITS?
Fukuda: First, we can roll out new products, centered on IP, for a wide range of customer groups. BANDAI SPIRITS previously specialized in IP products for male fans, such as the Mobile Suit Gundam series, DRAGON BALL series, and ONE PIECE. On the other hand, the former BANPRESTO rolled out IP products that were also highly popular with female fans, such as Disney and Pokemon products. In addition, the lower-priced products handled by the former BANPRESTO were also added to our lineup. We have expanded our lineup to cover a broader range of prices, and as a result we are now able to develop products for all target customer groups, including a wide range of prices.
Our second strength is the ability to maximize our businesses by providing an integrated range of products and services, in Japan and around the world. For example, in the prize business, we are implementing overseas sales of crane game machine prizes originally developed for the Japanese market. In addition, in the collectible items business, our development of figure products reflects consideration for global markets from the planning stage. We are working to accelerate business growth by fostering a strong awareness on the front lines of business development with a worldwide viewpoint.
Our third strength is the speed with which we move through the cycle of product development, production, marketing, and sales. By increasing the speed of the so-called value chain cycle, we will not only be able to respond rapidly to changes in the times or in customers, but also be the first to notice issues with processes and to quickly implement strategic changes.
In addition, we are working to bolster our technical capabilities, our ability to deliver quality, and the brand strength of each of our products, and I believe that these initiatives are one of the major reasons why we are earning the support of the markets.
What specific approaches will be taken for Japanese and overseas markets?
Fukuda: The Japanese market has a high level of needs not only for tangible products but also for experiences. Accordingly, in the lottery-related products business, we are working to open up new business areas that combine products and experiences. To that end, for example, we have launched Mellowtrill Nail character nail seals, which enable customers to order products with a design that they like and a size that matches their own nails. In these ways, we are working to create a market for mature women fans, based on the experience-style business.
Overseas, we opened THE GUNDAM BASE SHANGHAI, a comprehensive facility centered on Gundam plastic models, in August 2018, and this facility has been successful. In China, we are rolling out Gundam plastic models connected with SD Gundam World Sangoku Soketsuden, an original IP that was developed with consideration for China and other Asian markets, based on comics and on-line distribution. In addition, in Shanghai we launched ULTRA HEROES TAMASHII, an Ultraman event for the mature fan base, in March 2019, and this event has been highly regarded. In addition, BANDAI NAMCO Toys & Hobby (SHANGHAI) CO., LTD., was established to strengthen the Toys and Hobby business, and moving forward we plan to start full-scale operations. We will aim to expand this business as we work to bolster our own capabilities and to establish partnerships with major media companies, such as e-commerce sites and video sharing sites that have substantial influence in local markets.
In Europe and the Americas, from summer to fall 2018 we worked together with rights holders to offer the DRAGON BALL North America Tour, which was held in seven sites in North America. This tour was a major success. This year, we will expand the tour to eight cities and will strive to communicate the appeal of DRAGON BALL worldwide. Moreover, in October 2018, together with a local partner, we established BANDAI NAMCO Collectibles LLC (known as BLUEfin), in North America. This new company handles sales and marketing of products for the mature fan base. Through BLUEfin, which has solid distribution capabilities and special strengths in the sales of goods at events, we will expand product roll-outs, implement promotional measures through event participation, etc.
In addition, PREMIUM BANDAI, the official on-line shop operated by the company, reached its 10th anniversary this year. We will leverage this opportunity by accelerating measures to build an e-commerce business overseas.
Plastic models for SD Gundam World Sangoku Soketsuden
Mellowtrill Nail Powered by YourNail
We are launching multiple new Gundam plastic models to create a buzz around Gundam, which will celebrate its 40th anniversary.
What products and services can we look forward to this year?
Fukuda: First, this year will be the 40th anniversary of the broadcast of the Mobile Suit Gundam TV series. In response, we have commenced a variety of commemoration plans that draw on Gundam plastic models. Specifically, in April, in collaboration with 12 professional baseball teams in Japan, we began to launch 12 Baseball Team Coloring Gundam Plastic Models (total of 12 types). In addition, in 2019 we plan to produce a special movie in which a Gundam appears. The Gundam in the movie will be designed by KEN OKUYAMA DESIGN, a company that is led by Ken Okuyama, an industrial designer who is known around the world. We will also launch a plastic model of the Gundam that appears in the movie. In April 2019, Gundam plastic models surpassed 500 million units in cumulative total sales, and in 2020, we will reach the 40th year since the start of sales of these products. Moving forward, we will strive to further invigorate the market. In the collectible items business, in which we have the No. 1 share in the Japanese market, we opened TAMASHII NATIONS TOKYO, a directly operated flagship store, in Akihabara, Japan in April. Through this store, we will communicate to the world the appeal of our collectible items for the mature fan base.
TAMASHII NATIONS TOKYO
In addition, in the prize business, we will step up the development of products for the crane game market in Asia, centered on mainland China and Taiwan.
What is your policy regarding work?
Fukuda: To accelerate the various cycles in the value chain, I would like to indicate the company’s overall direction while entrusting the employees with individual work responsibilities.
Moreover, as one part of activities to enhance communication with employees, when a new product is launched, I receive a presentation from the person in charge of planning/development. The purpose of these briefings is not for me to offer my comments on specific planning details. Rather, I want to sense the enthusiasm of the person in charge. I believe that the enthusiasm of each employee is the source of a company’s growth potential and competitiveness.
My motto is that “steady, daily efforts are important.” Formulas and ideas for success are not found in some special location. Rather, they are found in our ordinary, daily lives. If we can keep that in mind, work with enthusiasm, and give concrete shape those formulas and ideas, we will hold the key to success. We will strive to do our utmost as we always remain attuned to a wide range of environments and respond to a variety of encouragements.
This article is an extract from the Newsletter, BANDAI NAMCO News, which was published in June 2019 and partially re-edited.