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To Create Harmony with Customers and Partners: Products and Services

Voluntary Declaration of Consumer-orientation Activity Report (FY2017)

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.

June 2018
Takeshi Niinami
President, and Chief Executive Officer, Member of the Board, Representative Director, Suntory Holdings Ltd.

Voluntary Declaration toward Consumer-Orientation

Philosophy

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.

Initiative Policies

  1. (1)
    We will offer products and services that create harmony with the consumers
  2. (2)
    We will pursue safety and reliability from consumers' standpoint
  3. (3)
    We will utilize consumer feedback in our business activities
  4. (4)
    We will strive to provide information to the consumers
  5. (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.

Suntory Founder Shinjiro Torii

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.

Yasuko Kondo

Yasuko Kondo has been at the forefront of consumer service since the Consumer Office was established and even took part in educating junior employees as an advisor up until 2015 after her retirement.
Received an Award for Excellence in Consumer Support (Cabinet Office) in 2008

Activity Report

  1. 1 Offer products and services in harmony the hopes of consumers
  2. 2 Provide comprehensive safety and reliability from the consumer perspective
  3. 3 Reflect feedback from customers in our corporate activities
  4. 4 Enhance the provision of information to consumers
  5. 5 Cultivate a climate and awareness in employees to take action based on the consumers perspective

1 Offer products and services in harmony
the hopes of customers We value two-way communications with its consumers in the belief that consumers satisfaction should be given top priority. We are enhancing our efforts so that we can truly respond to the opinions and hopes which we receive from consumers so that we may reflect this feedback more widely in our corporate activities, including the development and improvement of better products and services.

Example of  products  we released

Developing and improving products

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.

New Release: Launch of the New Zeitaku Polyphenol as a Delicious Wine without Anti-oxidation Agents

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.

Suntory Wine International Limited.
Eriko Ito, Domestic Brand Marketing Department

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.

Launch of The Premium Malt's Official App!

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.

Kenji Mukai, Digital Marketing Department
Suntory System Technology Limited

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.

Examples of Product and Service Improvements

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.

Yuichi Takaki, Packaging Material Department
Suntory MONOZUKURI Expert Limited

Realization of two-way communication for consumer satisfaction

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)

Customer Center

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.

Rika Itamura
Suntory Customer Center
(SUNTORY PUBLICITY SERVICE LIMITED)

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.

Sales & Marketing Division Chugoku Shikoku Area,
Suntory Liquors Limited.

  • -
    We send a "Voice Card (survey about services)" to consumers who sent us complaints which were handled to inquire about their satisfaction.

94% of the consumers have told us they will continue to use our products in the future (2017 results).

  • *
    The names of departments of these employees are current as of December 31, 2017.

2 Provide comprehensive safety and reliability  from the consumer We will engage in the maintenance and improvement of quality in all processes from the development and planning of products to the procurement of water, crops, packaging materials and other raw materials in addition to our manufacturing, distribution, sales and services under the Suntory Group Quality Policy, “All for the Quality.” We strive to improve the quality of our product and services while preventing quality risks through the Quality Assurance Committee which promotes quality management in the entire Group.

Maintain and improve quality
in all processes

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)

Prevent quality risks

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)

3 Reflect feedback from consumers
 in our corporate activities We quickly share precious information and feedback from our consumers in the company and reflect them in our products and services, enhancement of risk management, business activities and employee action.

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.

Consumer-oriented management

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)

VOC Meeting

Strengthen risk management system 
responding to business expansion

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.

4 Enhance the provision of 
information to customers We will promote product display, commercials, and ads that are accurate and easy to understand. In addition to communicating with our consumers through telephones, letters, and E-mails, we will also provide more information on our homepage for consumers who search for information on their own through the web. We will offer information about quality in an easy to understand manner for the consumers.

Increase amount of  information and
make information more easy to understand

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 Customer Center

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)

Announced Voluntary Declaration of Consumer-orientation

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)

Suntory Consumers-oriented Spirit -- Workshop for University Students --

Offer information about quality

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.

Safety and Reliability Initiatives Unique to Suntory

5 Cultivate a climate and awareness in employees to 
take action based on the consumers perspective The Suntory Group continues its Customer Satisfaction Cultivation Activities in our attempt to nurture a corporate culture in which all of our employees keep the customers’ perspective in mind in their work. We hold training programs for all employees, including those in divisions that have few opportunities to hear the views expressed directly by our customers.

Systemizing creation of consumer-oriented corporate culture and human resources

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.

  • *
    Suntory University is the general name for the human resource development programs.

Suntory University

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)

Consumer Viewpoint Brush-up Seminar

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)

Poster Displayed at Suntory

Internal Lecture

Making connection with 
voices of consumers in daily life

Suntory shares the Voice of Customers widely at the company weekly, monthly and yearly via the intranet and email.

Harmonics report, April 2018 Voice of consumers!
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.

We have been promoting consumer-orientation since our founding and will continue striving to be a corporate group trusted by the consumers.
We welcome your feedback