• In what way do your Kachimeshi® activities connect to brand equity?

    We are now releasing information related to Kachimeshi® through the media and then connect it to our products. Regarding touchpoints with consumers, we are not just considering mass merchandisers, but also restaurants and company cafeterias. Our basic strategy is to make the word Kachimeshi® appear in a wide range of real-life situations and increase interconnectivity with the media. We are also carrying out activities to raise product brand value, such as sharing value through articles on subjects like Kachimeshi® and nutrition in government newsletters and the like to create synergistic effects with the media.

     (In response to the following questions: How has brand equity changed compared to before Kachimeshi® activities started? What is the current status regarding expanding awareness of Kachimeshi® and what are your targets going forward?)

    Four years ago, we shifted the focus of Kachimeshi® activities from targeting athletes to targeting all hard-working people. Although the domestic market for seasonings and processed foods has been shrinking, we have managed to grow sales by about 5% over four years. For cases of actual Kachimeshi® activities rolled out at stores, our reference points are sales growth by about 1.2 times at mass merchandiser stores and sales growth of our products by about 1.0-1.1 times. Additionally, overall awareness regarding Kachimeshi® is around 30%. However, awareness among parents and guardians of student athletes and students preparing for entrance exams, a group that we have been targeting using specific measures, has risen to around 47%. We aim to increase this to at least 70% by March 2020.

  • The rollout of Kachimeshi® at stores has led to sales growth, so what was the situation like after holding Kachimeshi® fairs? Did the increased awareness raise base sales levels or were the effects only seen during the fairs?

    We have yet to see a sustained product sales growth effect after only one round of fairs. However, the number of stores at which the fairs are being held is relatively large compared to the total number of stores we are currently following up on, and each store will hold several fairs per year, so we think that as these take root, awareness will rise concerning things like the importance of reducing salt intake, and how CookDo® helps with vegetable consumption. At the current stage, we are expecting this to happen going forward.

     (In response to the following question: Do you have any quantitative data regarding the current state of awareness, such as survey responses?)

    To give a specific example, the Iwate prefectural government is trying to popularize a “salt-reduction day,” and Low-salt HON-DASHI® is always on display next to HON-DASHI®. We have data that shows that as a result of this, although sales of the regular product remained the same, sales of the low-sodium version grew by about 15%. People are becoming aware that there are also flavor seasonings that meet the need for reduced salt intake. For recognition rates, answer with the content from the separate question above (30% overall, 47% for groups targeted by measures).

  • As this is your fifth briefing session, how has your initial “initiative to further promote UMAMI and eliminate the negative image of MSG” progressed over the last four years?

    Awareness regarding the term “UMAMI” has spread, especially in major cities such as New York, London, Shanghai, and Hong Kong. In the US, there is a group of people known as Food Forward who have an interest in food and are sending messages through mass and social media, and out of an estimated 10 million people throughout the US, currently 66% have a positive image of UMAMI and 39% have a negative image of MSG. Our aim is to have people seeing both UMAMI and MSG as positive. As a first step, since Ajinomoto’s 100th anniversary in 2009 we have been carrying out activities to popularize umami using top chefs and key opinion leaders. Currently awareness regarding umami is spreading and it is normal for notable restaurants to use terms like “UMAMI” and “dashi” on their menus. The next step is to raise awareness that UMAMI and MSG are essentially the same. In September 2018, Ajinomoto hosted the World Umami Forum in New York. What effect this had in terms of numbers is not clear yet, but the dissemination of the fact that umami seasonings can be used to create delicious, low-sodium dishes probably had an impact on a lot of people. Although this activity will not have an immediate effect, we think that in the current environment, which is shifting away from the Chinese Restaurant Syndrome myth, the idea will proliferate quickly once a certain understanding has been achieved.

    (In response to the following question: Do you plan to continue holding the World Umami Forum in New York?)

    While we will have to give sufficient consideration as to whether New York is the best possible venue, we plan to continue holding the forum once every two years. We will also evolve the content to keep the information fresh.

    Reference: US Food Forward image

    Positive image of UMAMI: Currently 66% → Target for 2020 - 90%

    Negative image of MSG: Currently 39% → Target for 2020 - 20%