TOKYO: ASICS, the Japanese sportswear brand, is looking to innovation and the 2020 Olympic Games as it seeks to grow and compete with the sector's giants such as Nike and Adidas.

Motoi Oyama, CEO of ASICS, explained to The Worldfolio that a degree of confusion among consumers about the brand's origins was to be welcomed.

Research in Europe had found that the majority thought ASICS was an American brand; only a minority believed it was Japanese.

"In my opinion that is good thing," he said. "We are not Toyota or Honda. I think this is an advantage. We prefer being simply international; we don't judge it as French, Dutch, German or American but as a global brand."

That international view extends to marketing, where, ten years ago, he scrapped the individual approach taken in each country.

"We are like French and Italian luxury brands, we have to give the same tone and image to the customers," he said. So corporate visuals, pictures and advertisements are now standardised, while public relation efforts and promotion are similarly aligned.

"As a brand, innovation is one of our top priorities,"Oyama declared, although he admitted that there had been too much focus on sports enthusiasts and not enough attention given to the "sporty casual" trend that has been exploited by the likes of Nike.

"We have to target those younger generations", he said, who have other focuses and interests but are still prepared to take part in fun runs for example.

And despite his remarks about preferring to be seen as a global brand, he intends to take full advantage of the 2020 Olympic Games being held in Tokyo, where the brand is a Gold Partner.

"We can develop some powerful ideas and concepts together with the International Olympic Committee," Oyama suggested, mentioning the development and promotion of sports in general. The brand is already committed to providing volunteer clothing for 80,000 people as well as several international delegations.

Data sourced from The Worldfolio; additional content by Warc staff