PrintWeek (PW): Tough 18 months. Your learnings from 2021...
Katsushi Hirokawa (KH): We understood Covid-19, and took quick action to transform the company’s structure. Now we are carefully reviewing our business continuity plan against unexpected fear such as Covid-19. In the last two years, we have been focusing on rebuilding a strong relationship with the customers, our business partners and all stakeholders in order to survive under the current difficult situation. Lastly, a normal business trip overseas for sales and service is quite difficult for the moment. So, we are establishing more efficient structures on how to support the customers and our partners remotely.
PW: How has your company and factory sites responded to the challenges of the Covid-19 era? Anything on the ideas front?
KH: We have been rebuilding our supply chain management, for example, by increasing number of partners. We have already done an organisation review in order to respond to market changes and demands including changing our product portfolio. And we are promoting work styles reform flexibly such as remote working
PW: Any new research or innovation?
KH: Remote after-service structure including online support is one. We are making full use of marketing automation to inform the customers of useful information, new products and so on. We are doing several webinars and online demonstration for the customers and partners.
PW: The pandemic has impacted India’s prospects to become a USD 5-trillion economy by FY25. However, has the last quarter numbers reposed faith in the Indian market?
KH: We feel that there are some signs of Indian business environments including the printing industry picking up. The numbers of inquiries have increased substantially.
PW: Brands (FMCG and non-FMCG) are seeking more and more from print and packaging. As a global manufacturing brand, how can our industry cater to the new normal of - gaining speed; more flexibility; profit-centric approach; and lower carbon footprint?
KH: Currently, all companies have to consider environment-friendly steps in all respects, on the other hand, we always have to be a profitable business structure and keep improving our productivity and efficiency. We need to make a close relationship with our customers and partners in order to understand their requirements and consider how to propose more value-added products and services to them.
PW: How should print adopt marketing strategies that promote the print brand beyond the function of product or service?
KH: We need to consider both mass-marketing strategy and one-to-one marketing strategy depending upon our goal. In addition, we need to use digital marketing through marketing automation and real direct marketing using actual printing products.
PW: One school of thought is, the key is to do more than just meet consumers’ immediate needs. What is your view?
KH:We need to provide something special; printing products or material, which attracts the interest of the customers to consider investing in the latest printing technologies.
We are mainly considering the customer’s satisfaction to use our products from the perspective of profitability, efficiency, better working environment, quick after service and so on.
PW: 77% of Indian consumers are actively engaging with sustainability. These consumers will invest time and money in companies that try to do good. Three sustainable actions you have undertaken in the past year that you can share with us?
KH: We have been promoting LED-UV technology since 2008. LED-UV is surely an environmentally friendly technology. We believe that our wider product line-up is quite useful and efficient for the printing companies. For example, we can offer our A1 size machine as an alternative to the existing B1 press. And we are now strongly promoting automatic printing operation using our own camera system such as quality control, density control and register control simultaneously. Printing is going to be easier and more standardised if you use automated options.
PW: Your plans for 2022?
KH: We would like to promote a total smart-factory concept such as automation, visualisation, and connection with several printing equipment via our cloud. On this front, we would like to show our solution at IGAS 2022 in November 2022.
PW: One outrageous prediction for the year to come...
KH: Predicting is difficult, but I only wish that we are free of natural disaster and another Covid-19 related crisis next year.
QUICK FIRE QUESTIONS
- How do you unwind?
By playing golf.
- One piece of music you love?
Mainly Japanese classic pop music.
- Three books by your bedside?
Japanese history books.