Shannon Scott, Director of Marketing/Communications, ASICS America, the RBR Interview, by Larry Eder

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This interview with Shannon Scott was done just prior to their annual sales meeting, during the middle of May. Shannon Scott has been at ASICS for 24 plus years. In the running business, Shannon is one of the longest enduring marketing people at any footwear company and one of the longest veterans in ASICS.

We asked Shannon to give us some insights into ASICS America's business in 2012, where they are going in 2013 and an update on some new products....

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RBR, # 1. What is the biggest sales category for ASICS?


Shannon Scott: This fiscal year sales increase was largely driven by strong sales in the footwear category including the newest addition, ASICS Natural 33™ Collection.  In addition to running, ASICS America is seeing success in tennis, volleyball and wrestling categories.  


RBR, # 2. How is ASICS women's apparel received?


Shannon Scott: ASICS apparel has continuously gained momentum with retailers and consumers from quarter to quarter through product innovations, current style trends and hip color ways. This fall we are introducing our new Lite-Show™ Collection.  The high-tech feature of retro-reflective flatlock seams adds safety with a bright glow.  The signature Storm Shelter ® Jacket has a new 3M reflective thread on a yarn dye plaid fabric and has a versatile removable hood.  Each season we continuously improve our products and will constantly learn and evolve to meet and anticipate our customers needs.


3. How has the first two quarters gone for ASICS in 2013?


Shannon Scott: We just announced our fiscal year 2012 for ASICS America Group, which includes the United States, Brazil and Canada, (January 1, 2012 to December 31, 2012) net income increase by 16.1 percent, compared to the same year in 2011. Net sales income for the year was up 13.2 percent and operating income rose 41.4 percent. This fiscal year increase was largely driven by strong sales in the footwear category including the newest addition, ASICS Natural 33™ Collection.  Additional growth in emerging categories such as tennis and penetration in apparel and accessories all played a significant role in ASICS America Group financial progress for 2012.  ASICS America Group is on pace to show continued growth in 2013 and is on track to reach its billion dollars sales goal by 2015.


4. How popular is LoLo Jones with your consumer?


Shannon Scott: All of the ASIC athletes are popular with our consumers because each of our athletes speaks to our target audiences.  Lolo is a great ambassador for our brand and we look forward to working with her this year.


5. How do you use ASICS signature athletes?


Shannon Scott: ASICS has an extensive roster of elite athletes in a variety of sports that we leverage for a number of different initiatives, including:

  • Media interviews
  • Event appearances
  • Product launches
  • Competition commitments
  • Social media 
  • Advertising spots
  • Internal Company meetings


We support our athletes 100% and plan to continue to provide them with the most technologically advanced footwear for exceptional performance and helping them go above and beyond to achieve their dreams. Our number one priority is to provide the most technologically advanced product to our athletes through continued innovation in design, advances in new product development, and by broadening our range of offerings to serve the needs of athletes at all levels of competition.


6. The Onitsuka Originals have true cult following, tell us about them?


Shannon Scott: Onitsuka Tiger does indeed have a cult following. Many enthusiasts love the vintage look of the original silhouettes from the 60s, 70s and 80s. All of the OT styles look great with casual outfits and provide great comfort and style while remaining true to our athletic heritage.


7. Tell us about the new product line for athletics training market? 


Shannon Scott: Products in the new ASICS training collection are designed to withstand the strenuous and repetitive nature of training routines.  All items in the collection offer the perfect mix of high design, technology and performance to help athletes move ahead to their next training challenge, whether it's at the gym or studio, running path or track.   

Footwear:

  • The GEL-Fortius™TR for variable cross training. The shoe includes a super sticky outsole and reinforced toe bumper to prevent wear and tear during intense, short interval workouts. 
  • The GEL-Synthesis™ shoe with an innovative inner slipper that can be worn alone for a more barefoot training experience.
  • The GEL-Craze™TR for running-based training. The new shoe employs a rearfoot feature with uniquely positioned flex grooves for optimized flexibility. 
  • The GEL-Rhythmic® 2, a perfect shoe for the dance enthusiast.
  • GEL-Sustain™ TR is one of the lightest training shoes on the market today. A lightweight supportive upper combined with an ultra-flexible midsole and rearfoot GEL® Cushioning System.
  • GEL-Blur33 TR is designed for superior flexibility in a lightweight and supportive package, featuring lateral support and enhanced cushioning.

Apparel and Accessories

  • Abby® Collection for Women
  • All Sport™ Collection for Men


8. I suspect the new line has its heart in performance ASICS?


Shannon Scott: ASICS has enormous credibility due to our running heritage based on decades of experience developing the most innovative technology for athletic footwear and apparel. The extensive ASICS training collection demonstrates our commitment to a rapidly growing category, offering a full range of everything from the studio to hard core training. Furthermore, it reinforces our dedication to providing athletes with the best tools they need to advance in their sporting goals.


As we strive towards our goal of being a $1 billion dollar company by 2015, we continue to focus on product innovation that will fuel our growth towards this goal. The key to our success will be to play to our unique strengths, which will allow us to bring value and differentiation that our competition cannot match.


9. Why should consumer try the new products?


Shannon Scott: Any athlete looking to get to the "next" level and to "better their best" should try the ASICS training collection designed specifically for athletes' training needs. The athletic shoes, apparel, and accessories will help athletes push their limits to achieve their goal and immediately focus on the next challenge.


ASICS, as a brand, stands for one thing: constant improvement. Just as athletes never quit pushing their limits and taking on new challenges, ASICS is excited to continue to improve and expand our portfolio of performance athletic gear.



10. Tell us about the commercial?


A new high-energy TV spot will run during national broadcast sports programming, including the NBA playoffs on ESPN and Turner networks. In the "What's Next" commercial, a variety of ASICS Elite Athletes advance through their training moves while wearing the new collection. Olympian Lolo Jones flies across asphalt tethered to a parachute, while Olympic decathlon medalist Bryan Clay wields a hammer for strength training. Shot put competitor Russ Winger conquers the free weights and new ASICS athlete, performance-training aficionado, Rosario Rios-Aguilar, commands the rings. All athletes push their training efforts to the next level, accompanied by the catchy folk tune, "What's Next", written by advertising creative director, KT Thayer.  


Additionally:

  • This was an epic shoot. 3 Olympians, 12 elite athletes in total, shot in three cities, one coffee shop and an Italian restaurant.
  • The range of all of the ASICS athletes coming together was an incredible example the scope of the training category. 
  • We shot with Olympic hurdler and long-time ASICS athlete Lolo Jones, Gold medalist Bryan Clay, and Olympic tri-athlete And Potts, and cross-fit guru Rosario Rios. 
  • We also had ASICS golfer Selenee Henderson, shot-put champion Russ Winger, javelin star Kara Patterson, pro-tennis player Steve Johnson and Michael Johnston, a member of the national para-triathalete team.   
  • Fun fact: the song that provides the music bed for the spot was written by the creative director on the project.

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