THE FINISH LINE

Achieving a 'sound mind in a sound body' through sport

Roy Lan of Asics Asia talks about the Japanese sportswear company's core philosophy and its recent rebranding exercise

MANY avid runners out there would be familiar with Asics, the Japanese sportswear giant that is fast gaining in market share in footwear in many countries around the world.

Some may not know, however, that the company's name is actually an acronym for the Latin phrase Anima Sana In Corpore Sano, which means "a sound mind in a sound body".

And with much of the world still grappling with the impact of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, Asics hopes to boost the awareness of the positive impact that sport can have on a person's physical and mental well-being.

The company is also a firm believer in the use of the latest technology and data analytics when it comes to designing the perfect running shoe - whether it's for elite athletes or any other running enthusiast out there.

On March 30, Asics launched two new pairs of high-performance shoes at its annual Innovation Summit, a glitzy event that was held virtually.

Both the Metaspeed Sky and Metaspeed Edge are designed to support a runner's individual style. And according to research done by the Asics Institute of Sport Science, initial tests have found that the innovation used in these shoes can reduce the number of steps to finish a marathon by over 1.2 per cent.

BT Weekend met up recently with Roy Lan, the regional marketing communications and digital marketing manager at Asics Asia. Over coffee, the 35-year-old shares more about the company's core philosophy and how it has adapted to the vast disruption caused by the pandemic.

This is an edited excerpt of the interview:

Asics has undergone a global rebranding exercise. What was the thinking behind this?

We feel that the "sound mind, sound body" message is now more important than ever, especially during this challenging period. We want to raise the awareness of the importance of keeping both your body and mind in check through leading an active lifestyle.

Through this rebranding, Asics has positioned itself as a caregiver brand. We are not similar to our competitors where we strive to be the top in the industry, and we don't need our athletes to be the top in their competitions or tournaments.

Rather, our focus is more on delivering quality products, with an emphasis on protection and performance. We want to deliver high-performance products that can help our athletes and consumers to achieve their own fitness goals, and protect them at the same time.

Why not strive to be the top, though?

"Sound mind in a sound body" has always been our core philosophy, and it's embodied within our company ethos. That's how we differentiate ourselves from the rest.

Our focus is on celebrating the intrinsic benefit of sport, rather than just the extrinsic - for example, winning and losing. We focus on the journey, not the end-destination.

Even for our athletes, as long as they put in their best effort, that's what matters. And we make sure that for all the products we deliver to the market, that these are always better than the products before.

How has the company made better use of technology these days, be it for research, improving productivity at work, or innovation?

We have done quite a lot of different things over the last year or so. We have developed the world's best running mask, according to Forbes. We have also opened up Runkeeper training plans during the pandemic, and offered free online deliveries due to store closures.

Last year at the Asics World Ekiden 2020 event, over 6,000 of our employees around the world took part in this virtual relay. We just wanted to bring people together at a time when they were so far apart.

We have done a number of virtual product launches, and found new ways to get our products to the market through virtual reality and live-streamed events since the start of Covid-19.

Asics is a major sponsor of the Tokyo Olympics. What are your views on sports sponsorship and corporate sponsorship as a whole?

As part of our belief in the positive power of sport, we continue to sponsor events and athletes to help us amplify this message and encourage more participation.

The key global partners for us are World Athletics and the International Paralympic Committee (IPC), which both share our values. IPC is important for our plans to support all people in achieving a sound mind in a sound body.

What's your usual fitness routine these days?

Recently I sustained a slipped disc in my neck, but before that, I did wakeboarding, rock-climbing and HIIT (high-intensity interval training).

But because of the injury, I've had to scale down. I still go to the gym about two to three times a week, and I do some light running once or twice a week. I also do different forms of isometric workouts that isolate the neck, and other low-impact activities like spinning.

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