The Suntory Group aims to become a "Growing for Good" corporate group that realizes a sustainable and vibrant society.
In April 2017, we revised our consumer-oriented philosophy and initiative policies passed down since the founding of Suntory to draw up and release Voluntary Declaration of Consumer-orientation.
In the past, we have always worked to continually innovate and step up to challenges by sincerely listening to the voices of our broad range of consumers. Today, we would like to report the activities that we have conducted in our effort to become truly consumer oriented in the roughly one year that has passed since we published the Voluntary Declaration of Consumer-orientation.
Voluntary Declaration toward Consumer-Orientation
Under the corporate mission of "To create harmony with people and nature," we will offer products and services that pursue highest quality and enrich the lifestyles of people around the world and contribute in realizing a sustainable natural environment. We strive to be a Growing for Good company that is a good corporate citizen and trusted by the consumers following this corporate mission.
(1)We will offer products and services that create harmony with the consumers
(2)We will pursue safety and reliability from consumers' standpoint
(3)We will utilize consumer feedback in our business activities
(4)We will strive to provide information to the consumers
(5)We will nurture corporate culture and awareness take action from the viewpoint of consumers
Preface: Customer-oriented Spirit Alive in Suntory at Its Founding
The Suntory Group has passed down the consumer-oriented spirit from its founding in 1899 to today. Suntory Founder Shinjiro Torii always told his employees, "It is not about whether products sell or don't. The most important thing is trust." The founding spirit of "Sharing Profit with Society" embodies the spirit of giving a portion profit earned by the company back to society.
The second President of Suntory, Keizo Saji, often spoke in detail to Suntory employees about always taking a consumer first stance in every action taken by saying, "Only people on-site, in essence those in direct contact with consumers on the front lines, can fully come to know the greatest needs of the consumers." We will always hold a strong passion to succeed in activities that resonate with the consumers and hope to become a company which co-exists with society.
Compliments as well as strict criticisms are all invaluable to the Suntory Group. Top executives of Suntory today always listen closely to the voices of the consumers to filter back into the management process while continually reinforcing the importance of truly hearing what consumers have to say in every one of our employees.
The Suntory Group opened the Consumer Department in 1976 and has a long history of communication with consumers. Suntory expanded and enhanced the functionality of this department together with the trends of each generation while supporting a society which endeavors for a consumer-oriented stance.
Even as the company takes advantage of IT and SNS, Suntory has taken care in its initiatives to listen and empathize with the input from consumers for many, many years.
I believe the true meaning behind inquiries from consumers is an opportunity to provide satisfaction and reassurance. Moreover, the feedback received from consumers has been leveraged from an organizational approach that starts with top management and a system to support that approach. I think the consumer-oriented company passed down by Suntory founder Shinjiro Torii will always be protected as Suntory tradition.
The feedback and requests received from consumers have been utilized in the development of products and services.
New products developed based on consumer request
A delicious wine without any anti-oxidation agents was realized as a new product thanks to the requests of consumers. Launch of Zeitaku Polyphenol (August 2017)
We had been receiving requests from consumers who wanted to drink wine packed with more polyphenols without any anti-oxidation additives and discovered a delicious wine without any anti-oxidation agents adored by a broad range of consumers who enjoy wine on a daily basis. Zeitaku Polyphenol was released as a new product for this brand.
From an Employee in Charge of Development
As someone in charge of commercialization, I enjoy reading feedback from the consumers shared throughout the company every week. We often heard from people who wanted a wine that contained even more polyphenols. I knew I had to figure out how to commercialize a product to satisfy this need.
I thought carefully about the flavor these consumers were looking for by tasting everything over and over during the development. I will continue to value the voices of the consumers even in the future and hope to bring even more magnificent products the consumers will love for a long time.
New Product Development Pursuing Consumer Convenience
The Premium Malt's Online Campaign App Development (May 2017)
Conventional online campaigns require consumers to enter each and every serial number included on the products. Many of the consumers have complained that this process is tedious and the serial numbers are so small they are hard to read. To ensure the consumers can enjoy these campaigns, the Product Planning & Development Department worked together with the Systems Department to develop a dedicated app to let consumers easily enter campaigns by taking a picture of the serial numbers.
From an Employee in Charge of Development
I work with the hope of bringing greater convenience and comfort at the point of contact between Suntory and its consumers through daily innovation of IT technologies.
We engaged in development to deliver even greater satisfaction to the consumers by stepping into the shoes of the consumers when they enter campaigns through the app. We have even received rave reviews from the consumers after the app was released. We have only really reached the halfway point, but I want to do everything I can to go beyond simply satisfying the consumer.
The feedback and requests received from consumers have been utilized to improve products and services.
We introduce some examples of improvements that take advantage of feedback from the consumers on our homepage.
Suntory Group conducts activities to reduce the environmental impact to pass down a sustainable society to the next generation.
Aiming to Contribute to a Sustainable Society
Always Ensuring Front Liners Developed from Environmentally-friendly Packaging Materials
PET bottle development at Suntory strives to promote comprehensive weight saving and recycling as well as use plant-derived raw materials based on the Reduce and Recycle + Bio (2R + B) strategy.
In the (Mineral Water) Suntory Tennensui brand for example, we adopted an 11.3 g bottle, which is the lightest bottle in Japan (made from 30% plant-derived raw materials), a 12μm label, which is the lightest label in Japan (made from 80% recycled PET), and a 1.85g cap, which is the lightest cap in Japan (made from 30% plant-derived raw materials). (September 2016)
From an Employee in Charge of Development
Suntory has been promoting reductions to the environmental impact of its packaging materials for a while now. We are currently working to develop PET bottles and caps that use 100% plant-derived raw materials. I think achieving this goal will help build a sustainable society and therefore a brighter future for the consumers.
However, environmental considerations are pointless if our products are hard for the consumers to handle or feel comfortable in drinking. We work to achieve both technical skill and a reduction in the environmental impact.
Customer Centers and Sales Sites Cooperate Under the Motto "Fast, Clear and Courteous"
We strive to satisfy the consumers.
Initiatives at the Customer Center
-We aim to provide a courteous response that the consumers will be pleased with based on our CREDO (SUNTORY MIND for Customer Service), which clarifies the principles employees in charge of customer service should live by. (Established 2012)
-We realized an even faster response to the consumers so that anyone who makes in inquire is not left waiting through the innovation of a system to search for Customer Center information. (November 2017)
-We strive to provide even more accurate and clear information to the consumers by holding study sessions about relevant topics such as new products as well as conducting regular inspections of manufacturing sites. (2017: 6 times)
From a Customer Center Representative
The questions we receive from consumers cover a wide range of things. While studying specialized terminology and paying attention to trends in the news, I prepare for each and every day by also tasting the actual products to communicate the flavors.
We receive a lot of feedback by phone, email and SNS. We take care to grasp the real intention of each consumer and respond wholeheartedly in an easy-to-understand manner.
Initiatives at Sales Offices
Suntory has appointed Customer Service Leaders entrusted with a guidance role to engage in efforts that include human resource development to further penetrate and grasp consumer-oriented business practices around the many sales sites which are one of the main contact points with consumers (January 2018).
From a Customer Service Leader
We focus on two fundamental principles in customer service.
First is ensuring that we scientifically communicate the facts of survey results to all of the consumers. Second is ensuring we fully understand how the consumers feel. When I help a consumer who is very displeased about something, I first try and show my surprise and concern to let them know I understand how they feel.
On occasion, I also want to share what I have learned to those around me.
I strive to offer sincere customer support that will reassure and satisfy consumers who have a complaint.
From an Employee in Charge of Sales
I am in charge of sales and planning of alcoholic beverages to restaurants in the Chugoku/Shikoku area.
I prioritize visits to consumers in the Chugoku/Shikoku area if they have an issue and would like to talk face-to-face. I am grateful these restaurants can serve products their consumers enjoy. I make sure to listen to what each restaurant has to say and take care to explain anything that may be unclear. I also make sure to keep in mind that I am taking valuable time from my consumers and work to ensure basic customer service, such as strict time management for the visit while ensuring I am detailed and careful in our interactions.
-We send a "Voice Card (survey about services)" to consumers who sent us complaints which were handled to inquire about their satisfaction.
All of our employees take the viewpoint of consumer sin all of our processes in an effort to continually improve quality based on our "All for the Quality" policy, from the planning and development of products as well as procurement of water and raw materials to manufacturing, distribution, sales and services up to the moment when consumers drink or eat our products. This approach delivers high-quality products and services that are both safe and reliable.
Management and on-site employees confirm the importance of quality face-to-face at all manufacturing bases. (2017)
We are moving ahead with our efforts to carefully identify and minimize potential risks that have yet to been actualized within serious risks such as law breaking as well as health and quality hazards.
Suntory has expanded efforts to improve new unidentified quality risks at all of its sites from research and development to procurement and production as company-wide activities. (2017)
Quickly Sharing Opinions and Feedback
We quickly share opinions and feedback that we receive from consumers while we pursue fast, clear and courteous service using the Neo HarmoniCS consumer information system.(2017: 88,915 cases)
Enhancing Systems to Leverage-Consumer Feedback
We analyze consumer feedback (VOC: Voice of Customer) which will help improve consumers-oriented corporate activities to create products and provide services able to satisfy the consumers. We call these efforts VOC activities.
We regularly hold VOC meetings to share information and engage in discussion with each business department based on the feedback received from consumers. Both management and employees attend this meeting to broadly examine consumer-oriented efforts, such as improving products and services based on consumer feedback, preventing risk before it happens and creating new business activities. (2017: Approx. 70 meetings)
We have built a system to conduct an even higher level of risk management as we expand the scale of our businesses as a global group (2015). Ongoing compliance efforts in conjunction with risk management activities aim to foster a company that meets the expectations of its consumers.
Suntory endeavors to enhance its websites on a daily basis so that it may communicate easy-to-understand information able to play a role in our consumer's lives.
We improved the accessibility of the Customer Center homepage by incorporating the voices of the consumers and using images and videos. The homepage works to also improve consumers' ability to find the information they are looking for when conducting a search.
Suntory is providing a variety of information to aid in realizing richer lives of the consumers through better access to information from a website with regional information for outings, a website for factory tours and a website of recipes to use in daily cooking.
We have begun new efforts to learn more about the consumers incorporating the consumers-oriented spirit uniquely passed down since the founding of Suntory in specific activities. (2017)
Management works to talk about the history of our consumers-oriented spirit and current initiatives while simultaneously releasing the Voluntary Declaration of Consumer-orientation. (April 2017)
Suntory held a product development workshop to instill the consumer-oriented spirit through first-hand experience together with the next-generation responsible for our future. (January 2018)
Our Quality Assurance website introduces the variety of initiatives related to quality at Suntory to help consumers correctly understand our diligence toward safety and reliability.
In 2017, we have begun training in-line with the career path of each employee as part of our human resource training (Suntory University*) in the medium term for the purpose of teaching all of our employees to always take action from the viewpoint of consumers.
Each employee listens to complaints and words of encouragement from consumers in the Consumers Oriented Brush-up Seminar to deepen a consumer-oriented mentality and encourage action. (2017: 4,882 people)
Seminars at each Group company nurture a consumer-oriented mind and action in all of the activities at the Suntory Group. (Began 2017)
Suntory creates opportunities for its partners to understand the consumer-oriented concepts and initiatives of the Suntory Group and it works together with these partners to deliver better products and services to the consumers. (2017: 237 companies)
May is Consumer Month in which we also aim to enhance Suntory's consumer-oriented spirit by offering opportunities for each person to think about what they can do for the consumers. These efforts include sharing messages from management and conducting internal lectures. (May 2018)
Suntory shares the Voice of Customers widely at the company weekly, monthly and yearly via the intranet and email.
Comments of Employees after Reading the Voice of Customers
I enjoy reading what consumers really have to say, especially their response to new products. I learned a lot about how consumers look at Suntory.
Words of praise are always nice, but we won't grow without critiques as well. These criticisms are hard to hear but are an opportunity for us to improve in the future. I am careful to accept the truth in the voices of the consumers I read.
I am surprised by unexpected feedback and have found many insights in the voices of the customers.
I have often found myself struck by feedback from consumers about ways we never expected consumers to enjoy our products during development.
I think both compliments and complaints are valuable assets for Suntory and I carefully read each and every one. The strength of Suntory is the transparency in not only sharing the praise but also the criticism.