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  4. A Quick Guide to Unicharm Step 2: Strengths that support Unicharm's sustained growth

A Quick Guide to Unicharm
(Chapter 2: Strengths that support Unicharm’s sustained growth)

Strengths that support Unicharm’s sustained growth

Evolution of our “winning patterns”

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The popularity of Unicharm products in many consumer markets around the world reflects our efforts to develop products tailored to the cultures and living environments of each country and region, backed by detailed research into local lifestyles and consumption habits. At the same time, we have been working to distribute our products to as many retailers as possible and communicating the value of our product range to the fullest by working with retailers to create shopper-focused sales areas using digital technology.

To remain competitive amid rapid advances in IT and globalization, we have to think and act faster.

Using a dynamic cycle of trial and error, we will adjust our “winning patterns” to match changes in the operating environment and transfer them to overseas markets.

Implementing strategies for each phase of market growth

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Unicharm implements clear strategies tailored to each stage of market growth: early stage, growth stage, uptake stage and mature stage. Based on careful analysis of these growth phases, we work to boost market uptake and maximize profts by launching the right products at the right time in each market.

There is a close correlation between market uptake rates for nonwoven fabric and absorbent material products and per capita GDP in each country. Our research shows that uptake rates for feminine care products and disposable baby diapers jump sharply when per capita GDP exceeds $3,000. When per capita GDP rises to a high level, uptake for feminine care products and disposable baby diapers reaches a ceiling, but market uptake increases for disposable adult diapers and partner animal (pet) care products. Demand for feminine care products and disposable baby diapers is currently growing across many emerging markets in Asia, Africa and South America. Going forward, we also anticipate rising demand for disposable adult diapers and partner animal (pet) care products in Asia, as well as in advanced markets. In addition, in countries and regions where there is poor understanding about menstruation and a lack of social infrastructure, we are working with governments and local NGOs to help women play a greater role in society. Those efforts also help to increase recognition of the Unicharm name overseas and improve our brand image.

Implementing our strategies using “Management with Resonance” – close cooperation between management and frontline employees

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At Unicharm, management uses feedback from frontline operations to develop strategies that are carefully explained to employees, allowing our workforce to gain insights into management’s point of view and act accordingly. This balanced approach to communication signifcantly improves the capacity of the whole organization, helping management and frontline employees work together towards shared goals.

We call this “Management with Resonance,” and it is a major factor behind the Unicharm’s growth. In addition, to ensure that our overseas expansion, which entails the introduction of winning patterns established in Japan in accordance with local culture and needs, has a greater chance of success, we are also nurturing internationally minded “resonant personnel” who have a deep understanding of Unicharm’s DNA, corporate culture and strategies, and actively sending them to positions overseas. Moreover, the number of millennials born between 1982 and 2000 has been increasing, and this generation will become the main consumers in the future. For this reason, we have been hiring employees in their 20s and 30s and reflecting their unique ideas in our management strategy.

Introducing a new management approach to create an organization that “moves ahead while thinking”

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Change has become commonplace in recent years, and we are living in an age where major, unexpected change has become the “new normal.” To generate sustained growth under those conditions, we need an organization capable of radical shifts in direction.

Specifically, we have to constantly adjust our approach – identifying signs of change and improvising in response to ongoing developments in the operating environment, without sticking too much to our original plans. To create that kind of organization, we have introduced a new management approach based on the observeorient-decide-act (OODA) loop method, which is an evolution of our previous SAPS Model that emphasized the plan-do-check-act (PDCA) cycle.

Our aim is to create an organization where employees use their initiative to make decisions and take actions themselves, with each frontline employee assessing the situation using first-hand information from the business frontline to understand specific situations, fine-tuning their senses and combining their intuition with business experience and expertise.

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