BENEXY staff performing shoe care on a pair of shoes, prolonging shoe life for health and fashion
© BENEXY CORPORATION

Confirmation Bias

We all subconsciously collect information that reinforces our preconceptions. It's natural . . . but it does lead to a kind of flawed decision-making called confirmation bias. To become more objective and impartial, check out this course from GLOBIS Unlimited!

An Investor's Lesson to Entrepreneurs

Entrepreneurs have the power to transform societies for the better. But how do you attract investors to start or grow a business? Or to sell one? Check out this seminar for the answers to these and more, straight from a master venture capitalist!

Managerial Accounting

Managerial accounting is a powerful way to measure progress, identify problems, and meet your goals. Check out this course to learn how data-backed decisions can help you run your business.

Finance Basics: 1

For a healthy mix of quantitative planning, evaluation, and management, you need solid decision-making. And finance is the secret sauce! Get the essentials of finance in this two-part course from GLOBIS Unlimited.

Basic Accounting: Financial Analysis

Want to compare your performance vs. a competitor? Or evaluate a potential vendor? Then you'll need to conduct a financial analysis. This course will teach you how to use three financial statements and evaluate financial performance in terms of profitability, efficiency, soundness, growth, and overall strength.

Career Anchors

What drives you to be good at your job?

Career anchors are based on your values, desires, motivations, and abilities. They are the immovable parts of your professional self-image that guide you throughout your career journey.

Try this short GLOBIS Unlimited course to identify which of the eight career anchors is yours!

Digital Marketing Psychology to Transform Your Business

How does digital marketing really differ from traditional marketing? How is social media changing things really? And what's going on in Asia?

Pyramid Structure

Having the pyramid structure in your communication toolkit can not only help you approach a problem, but convince others that your solution is valid. Break away from linear thinking and test your logical thinking with this course from GLOBIS Unlimited!

Leadership with Passion through Kokorozashi

The key ingredient to success? Passion.

Finding your kokorozashi will unify your passions and skills to create positive change in society. This GLOBIS Unlimited course will help you develop the values and lifelong goals you need to become a strong, passion-driven leader.

AI First Companies – Implementation and Impact

AI is changing the way companies operate. How do you structure teams to increase efficiency?

Technovate in the Era of Industry 4.0

Is Industry 4.0 is the next step of human evolution human civilization? Dr. Jorge Calvo seems to think so. Join him to learn how the past can help you set goals for an exciting future of digital innovation.

Technovate Thinking

Business leaders of tomorrow need to harness the power of technology and innovation. That means understanding algorithms and how they drive business results. Discover opportunities to make technology work for your competitive edge.

Product Life Cycle

Every product takes a natural course through the market—there's a how, when, and why customers adopt products at different stages. Check out this course from GLOBIS Unlimited to find out how a product you use every day is part of this cycle.

Logic Tree

Logical thinking is the most valuable asset any business professional can have. That's why logic trees are such a valuable tool—they can help you identify a problem, break it down, and build it back up to a solution.

MECE Principle

Using the MECE principle can help ensure you categorize without gaps or overlaps. Check out this course from GLOBIS Unlimited for a practical demonstration of how it works!

Fashion: a multi-billion-dollar industry that’s evolved far beyond putting clothes on our backs. The fashion industry has become a platform for free artistic expression, a haven for marginalized communities, and a driving force for social change.

Believe it or not, it can also have a positive impact on health and quality of life.

Japan’s love affair with fashion stretches back to the introduction of the kimono in the Heian period (794 – 1195) with Western fashion debuting in the mid-1800s. But Japanese fashionistas today, like many of their counterparts around the world, often sacrifice comfort to look good. That means business leaders have a ripe opportunity to make meaningful social impact through health and beauty. Particularly when it comes to the fashion on your feet.

Yasuyuki Umino knew from his university days that he wanted a career in fashion. Now, as president and CEO of BENEXY Corporation, based in Tokyo, he works on the frontlines of footwear distribution, retail operation, and shoe repair. Since getting his GLOBIS MBA in 2019, social impact has become a driving force behind BENEXY’s core value.

Profile image of Yasuyuki Umino, who has dedicated his career to marketing footwear for fashion and health
Mr. Yasuyuki Umino | © BENEXY CORPORATION

Finding Social Impact in Feet

Insights: How did you get started with a career in footwear?

Umino: I’d dreamed of joining the clothing or footwear industry since university. As for why I chose BENEXY, it was the unique company mission that came with a social benefit.

BENEXY is in shoe repair and footwear distribution, including famous brands like Birkenstocks from Germany. But we work to provide end consumers with a physical experience—not just an attractive shoe. That starts with tailored shoe-fitting based on orthopedic expertise, which gives our shoes a lifelong benefit for the consumer.

The positive impact of BENEXY really appealed to me, so in 2005, I joined the company as marketing staff.

Insights: To ensure that lifelong health benefit, do you employ trained orthopedic professionals in stores?

Umino: Our footwear is made with orthopedic know-how, but employing orthopedic specialists is a bit tricky. In Japan, only licensed orthopedists or podiatrists are allowed to recommend footwear from a medical perspective. So what we do is employ professionally certified Shoe Fitters to train all BENEXY shop clerks, who can then advise customers on the best shoe size, width, and fit, as well as how to walk.

The interior of a BENEXY store, where marketing footwear is about fashion and health
BENEXY stores are a haven for foot fashion and healthy feet. | © BENEXY CORPORATION

Learning to Market the Story of Shoes

Insights: You were appointed CEO of BENEXY in January 2021. Marketing staff to CEO is quite a rise in status! How have you seen things change for the company over time?

Umino: As business got bigger, we started to feel the culture gap between the European style of marketing and that of Japan. The consumer mindset in Japan is more high context, so we learned that we need more storytelling in our marketing strategy, rather than a one-shot marketing campaign.

Insights: What does it mean to incorporate storytelling into shoe sales?

Umino: Consider the role shoes play in Japan vs. Europe: In European markets, most people are taught from childhood how to tie their shoes, etc. There’s a lot of focus on the practical function of shoes. But in Japan, people think about shoes very differently. Shoes are more like hats—you might put them on and take them off several times in a single day. Therefore, Japanese customers tend to choose their footwear based on cosmetic fashion trends, such as tight fit or loose fit. I guess this comes from our tatami floor culture and the tendency to go barefoot at home.

Even Japanese customers who come to our stores are surprised by the detailed fitting services we provide. On average, it takes thirty minutes for one customer to make a decision to buy a pair of shoes at BENEXY—far longer than other footwear businesses. But we think of those thirty minutes as a must. We’ve realized we need to explain, pretty much from scratch, the lifelong benefit of well-fitted footwear.

Insights: It sounds like mindset is key to your approach. Do you rely a lot on word-of-mouth marketing?

Umino: Yes, we make word of mouth a huge priority. And that’s been important for our demographics, as well. We’ve found that female customers can be a bit more stubborn accepting shoes as anything but fashion—they tend to want smaller shoes.

A woman has her foot measured by shop staff at BENEXY, which has a mission of marketing footwear for fashion and health
Cinderella might’ve known better than to go with glass slippers if she’d consulted with the staff at BENEXY. | © BENEXY CORPORATION

Insights: And did your MBA play a role in the way you adjusted your marketing?

Umino: Before enrolling in GLOBIS for my MBA, I had a different attitude. I felt that we, as a distributor, just sell products, and consumers just consume them. But I began to suspect I needed a more holistic, 360-degree approach to see the social value we were providing.

I learned a lot at GLOBIS, and after graduation I happily accepted the appointment to CEO at BENEXY. The most important takeaway from my MBA studies was how to provide core value. To lead a nationwide distribution network (and 300 employees) under fickle, global-scale market changes, you have to include all stakeholders.

I also learned the importance of continuous, day-to-day exploration. Even after graduation, I’ve tried to expand my understanding of what “social good” is. That’s a big part of creating and communicating our core value, as well.

Marketing Footwear for Fashion and Health

Insights: What do you consider your biggest success so far?

Umino: Unleashing the narrow, limited image of “footwear” and communicating footwear benefits as both health and fashion. We want consumers to understand our products and services from a broader perspective—they need to see that we’re contributing that social benefit. BENEXY supports health by providing comfort in daily walking, improving posture, etc.

I’ll consider our efforts a success if I see fewer people walking on the street with bent backs and toes!

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here