RBR, # 1.Congrats on being named the Chief Creative Officer, how are you feeling on your first day?
John Mollanger: Thank you very much. Day one? Excited, ambitious, curious, respectful, proud and jet lagged too.
RBR, # 2. How does one manage and focus the creativity of a brand such as ASICS on a global level?
John Mollanger: The process itself is based on science and experience, with a succession of key phases that will ultimately transform consumer problems into design, innovation, technical and manufacturing solutions. That’s the engine.
What is decisive, what makes us who we are in a unique, compelling way, is the fuel we put into that creation engine. It’s about knowing our core values, knowing our consumers, their problems and their dreams. And this fuel is our input into the process. It creates collection of products that need to be performance driven, reliable, innovative, and beautifully functional.
RBR, # 3. You have worked for several iconic brands, PUMA and Nike, to name a few, what did you learn in working with those brands?
John Mollanger: I have been blessed to work with these brands and meet amazing people, in their own personal way. â€¨
RBR, # 4. ASICS has never had issues with quality, and brand loyalty is very high, what do you see as challenges for ASICS in future?
John Mollanger: Realistically, there are key challenges all brands have to face and that are relatively outside our control such as global economical factors, manufacturing prices, currency dynamics and a competition that you have to always respect and learn from. But more than specific challenges to Asics, I see dramatic opportunities: we have built a large business out of essentially performance running footwear. We have a uniquely large share of our revenues coming from consumers who play sports in our products. This authentic position, that we value very highly, needs to be protected and developed. While other athletic sports that can match our values and benefit from our know – how will be explored and developed (tennis, cricket, rugby…) performance running apparel is one of the immediate elements at hand.
RBR, # 5. You have had strong growth in ASICS Europe, especially Spain and UK, where do you see the brand expanding?
John Mollanger: The 4 most mature regions that are North America, Europe, Australia and Japan are areas where the brand has performed admirably well in history, with a systematic podium position on performance running. However, we are still far from a cruising altitude in developing market such as China, Brazil and latin America, India and to some extent Eastern Europe and Africa.
RBR, # 6. The ASICS America business has had some tough challenges, but seems poised for some new growth, any observations there?
John Mollanger: It’s very early a question for me to tackle, I have yet to meet Kevin Wulff and his team. But an observation is that they have demonstrated they could combine an authentic, historical consumer focus while progressively modernizing their footprint. Embracing the fact that there is no conflict between an authentic, athletic performance and sheer brand appeal is going to be part of our future, and our key regional leaders get that.
RBR, # 7. ASICS originals, your Onitsuka line has picked up a following, what is it about the old product that creates an interest?
John Mollanger: Many theories coexist, ranging from the nostalgia of the olden days, to the potential reject of modern creations, to the search for essential styling. In any case, having a long history as a performance brand and a reputation as a credible innovator helps resonate with this community and supports “product romance”. So this is a part of our business that I feel we can support without damaging our reputation as a modern brand.
RBR, # 8. How does the modern footwear company deal with social media? Your athlete LoLo Jones is quite popular, is that the direction you see other ASICS athletes going?
John Mollanger: Individual athletes outreach will always vary based on their own personalities, and as we tend to liaise with athletes whose values resembles ours, this will go naturally. This said social media and digital marketing is a mesh you will see us continually explore, as our MyAsics application continues to receive positive reviews, that distinguishes us from our competitors in the context. The equation is always going to mix relevance to the brand, competitive landscape and consumer expectations, so you will see more from us on the topic.
RBR, # 9. And lastly, what will you do in your first weekend as Chief Creative for ASICS to relax?
John Mollanger: I’ve been lucky. The week – end has been a combination of dinner with new colleagues, city discovery and the Kobe marathon. Busy good!