After a number of years in the market, Mr. Tadashi Shibuya has recently been promoted to run Casio watches in the U.S., the most important market for Casio outside Japan. Since the 1980s, the American market has been wild for Casio’s flagship G-Shock product family. Casio has been adept at continually improving its products while also getting long lives from its hit timepiece designs. Casio remains one of the few traditional watchmakers that actually produces state-of-the-art timepiece technology today while, at the same time, capturing the hearts of fans who enjoy the nostalgia of Casio products they experienced in decades past.
Part of Casio’s success is blending a focus on technology and fashion in a way that keeps the brand stylistically and functionally relevant to consumers. Doing this well requires Casio to have a firm grasp on multiple proficiencies, which means its top managers need to consider a number of questions no matter what product or marketing decision they make. What keeps Casio interesting to watch collectors at all levels is its ability to present novel functions and materials, as well as inspired visual styles.
That said, what exactly is Casio doing today, namely in the important American market? To find out, we speak with Mr. Tadashi Shibuya from Casio USA to hear all about it.aBlogtoWatch: No one these days would deny that “collaboration watches” (where a personality or brand designs a piece with a watchmaker) are popular and profitable. Casio is no stranger to collaboration watches, and yet the market has a demand for more even variety in design and even more niche in targeted appeal. How do you feel Casio can best leverage these popular consumer interest trends within the brand’s existing values and long-term strategy?
Tadashi Shibuya: As you know, collaborations are an important part of our business strategy and have been for quite some time, based on the positive response they receive from our consumers. We’ve been collaborating for decades, and our reasoning is simple and proven effective. By collaborating with like-minded brands, we are able to introduce their consumer to our brand and vice-versa. People who follow one of our collaboration partners may not be aware of G-SHOCK, but our collaboration product introduces them to our brand and possibly makes them a fan and, more importantly, a new customer of ours. The limited-edition collaborations also provide our existing fans with a collection of unique watches that they want to be one of the few to own — like the introduction of our recent collaborations with NASA and John Mayer.
Our collaboration strategy is to work with authentic brands that are deeply rooted in fashion, culture, music, and sports, as those are each central pillars to G-SHOCK. Our brand resonates within all of those fields, and our fans appreciate and look forward to the collaborations within each of these sectors. Going forward, we will continue to evaluate future collaboration partners that align well with our brand, make sense, and are sure to excite our fans.
aBlogtoWatch: When you visit the Casio offices in Japan, it becomes clear that the company is run by seasoned engineers who are proud of what they make and always strive to make those things work better. Outside Japan, and into the thoughts of the lay consumer, some might argue that an awareness of Casio’s brand values and history is limited, despite the fact that consumers do have a high trust rating for Casio. In an era when communicating brand values is crucial to market success, what are your personal strategies for doing so in the United States market?
Tadashi Shibuya: Consumers today have many touch points that offer a look into the world of their favorite brands, outside of their products. Some consumers will even say aligning with a brand’s core values is nearly as important to them as the product or service they are purchasing. They want to know more about where the brand’s core values lie while making purchase decisions, which we work with our media partners to help us spread awareness of for G-SHOCK.
We also do this in a subtle way through our collaborations, as well. As a brand, we thoroughly vet potential partners to ensure we only collaborate with brands that are like-minded and aligned with our brand values, or else a partnership just wouldn’t make sense. In the past, we have also utilized our in-person marketing events to tell a deeper story, conveying our advantages and advancements in timekeeping. Once in-person event marketing can pick back up, we will continue to deliver our messages in those forums. Until then, we’ll continue to use our developer videos and promotional videos to help educate, inform, and inspire our consumers to join the G-SHOCK family.
aBlogtoWatch: In my opinion, Casio is correct to invest its time and effort into developing a broad spectrum of products — not necessarily needing to predict market success prior to market introduction. That said, no company can focus its maximum attention on all projects; when it comes to the U.S. market, in what product areas do you advise headquarters to invest a lot of their time and effort on when it comes to planning the Casio watches of the near future?
Tadashi Shibuya: The North American market is the most important to our global brand. The R&D team does extensive research, whether it’s through the Web, print media, or fashion and music sites/publications, to develop products specifically targeted to our market. The focus currently is toward fashion and premium additions to our lineup. These two areas are important, as fashion influence appeals to the younger demographic, and the premium additions such as MR-G & MT-G, are introducing us to new customers who may have known us in the past but didn’t expect the quality and craftsmanship that you can find in our premium lines.
The Color, Material, Finish philosophy that our team is focused on has been important, as it’s really honing our ability to introduce new metal models and new colorways that have been very popular.
Another area that our R&D team has been focused on lately is the expansion of our G-SHOCK Move collection. The Smartwatch category is currently dominated by Apple, but CASIO has been in the technology watch sector since 1974, and we’re excited to now sit uniquely within the smartwatch arena. We offer world-renowned sensor technology that is some of the most advanced, combined with a G-SHOCK structure and you have a home run. Most consumers don’t want to spend $500+ on a smartwatch only to have it destroyed while hiking, fishing, or biking. CASIO provides the solution — not only that but CASIO also offers an assortment of price ranges, design treatments, and colorways. Watches shouldn’t come in a one-size-fits-all design, and consumers should have the ability to select what fits their lifestyle best — that’s what our design team strives for. It’s important for our business but equally important to consumers.
aBlogtoWatch: Like most watch companies these days, Casio must be thinking about what its marketing messages to the public should be in the future, as well as what practical and lifestyle themes the company will use as contexts to connect emotionally with consumers. Tell me a little bit about what you know about the future of Casio marketing — what it will look like, and what strategies it will use to keep consumers interested in the next generation of Casio products.
Tadashi Shibuya: We use our marketing tools to help distinguish our brand from other brands. These materials allow us to showcase how consumers can incorporate G-SHOCK seamlessly into every aspect of their daily lives. While each consumer uses their G-SHOCK differently, it’s important to showcase the benefits and peace of mind consumers experience while wearing a G-SHOCK. Digital and social will continue to be our main forms of marketing, as they allow us to reach a wide range of new and existing customers in an engaging way that showcases our latest products and technological innovations. Of course, as we navigate the waters of the pandemic, we look to slowly and safely begin in-person events on a smaller scale.
aBlogtoWatch: We’ve spoken in the past about how I grew up wearing Casio products from a young age. Many other people of my generation had similar experiences, and lots of us have gone on to be Casio fans as adults. Today, children have a different relationship with timepieces, and many contemporary buyers aren’t acquainted with watches until a bit later in life. What strategies do you feel will help Casio connect with new wearers in the future? And what do you suspect will be some of the most popular vectors for people to first discover the pleasure of wearing a G-Shock (or similar) watch?
Tadashi Shibuya: Our target consumer ranges from teenagers to those in their 50s. We have a very wide audience, therefore it’s important for us to get the attention of the young consumers early and hope they grow into our more premium lines of watches as they age. We’ve seen that those who are fans of G-SHOCK at an early age oftentimes become lifelong customers. Therefore, we approach young audiences in a way that positions G-SHOCK not only as a watch but also as something that adds emotional value and fun to their lives through our unique CMF design approach, marketing, brand ambassadors and influencers, and unique and desirable collaboration models.
aBlogtoWatch: Casio never fails to impress me with novel solutions to existing wristwatch problems or brand new watch features — on an annual basis. Always pushing the envelope when it comes to technology and innovation is one of the reasons we love Casio so much. Give us a little hint as to what Casio is currently working on, and what are some special features or styles we can look forward to that will be released in the next few years?
Tadashi Shibuya: You might be aware that we have previously collaborated with ASICS. Our domestic market in Japan released a new Running Analysis Sensor that provides data on form, pace, and other key metrics to help guide the wearer on how to improve their running. A G-SHOCK watch can also be connected to notify the wearer of any instability in their form while running. This combination of sensor technology with a definitive purpose and intent to help improve the wearer’s passion is central to CASIO’s corporate creed of “creativity and contribution.” We will continue to provide products that enhance people’s lives and create true value for the market sector.