Ray Shinzawa, Managing Director, JCB International (Europe) discusses with EPI editor Douglas Blakey the thinking behind’s JCB’s ambitious European branding campaign dubbed #BetterWithOmotenashi

The aim says JCB, is to highlight the brand’s Japanese heritage and at the same time drive brand awareness across Europe.

Dubbed #BetterWithOmotenashi, this is an eye-catching campaign from JCB. The visuals aim to highlight the company’s distinct proposition and its focus on being a valuable service-led brand, dedicated to providing customer excellence.

And what exactly is omotenashi? Purchasers of a Lexus car will be familiar with the concept. Lexus says that is omotenashi has influenced every aspect of its business and has done so since it rolled out its first car over 30 years ago. The gist of it is and I paraphrase: a company manifesto that guides every decision it makes, every car it creates and to treat each customer as it would a guest in one’s home.

Guests in quality Japanese hotels will also be familiar with omotenashi. The phrase does not really translate well into English-and some observers may suggest that there is an obvious reason for this and that UK made cars and British hotels’ customer service are not in the same league as a Lexus or the Shangri-La Hotel, Tokyo.

JCB’s initial brand audit and benchmarking process found that JCB Europe already enjoys strong brand equity and with the #BetterWithOmotenashi campaign aims to position JCB as a global payments brand, with a valuable cardmember community, combined with the company’s intrinsic business focus of its omotenashi principles.

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JCB targets UK, Germany and France

Ray Shinzawa, Managing Director, JCB International (Europe) discusses with RBI the background to the firm’s new

#BetterWithOmotenashi (#BWO) branding campaign.

RBI: How is the campaign panning out and which markets in Europe are the priority?

Ray Shinzawa, Managing Director, JCB International (Europe):

 

The #BWO campaign has concentrated its digital advertising spending on three key markets – UK, Germany, and France. The campaign targets specific personas such as CFOs, scheme liaisons, product/operations managers within our target of acquirers, PSPs, and retailers.

The company’s refreshed brand identity is being promoted through social media platforms such as LinkedIn, as well as programmatic advertising which uses computer algorithms to target specific audiences in the finance, operations, partnerships, and marketing industries. These advertisements are being displayed across online business, financial, and payments industry media.

#BWO’s effectiveness comes in targeting the right audiences through digital media. Our targeting was based on the countries and regions with the most Asian tourists and therefore the greatest opportunity to be gained through acceptance of JCB Cards: Germany, Spain, France, Italy, Switzerland, Austria and the UK.

The target markets of Germany, France, and the UK are probably the most fragmented, with multiple players at each layer of the payments stack and strong local schemes, so we needed to put extra effort into our market penetration here.

Currently, JCB International (Europe) has around 70 partners in the EU, which includes major players in the region. However, with the emergence of new tech-driven companies and mid-layer players such as payment facilitators (PayFac) entering the market, it is essential we capture their attention through branding campaigns. 

 

RBI: By which metrics will you judge if the campaign is a success?

Shinzawa:

There are two ways we look at marketing effectiveness. Our quantitative system of measurement helps us understand campaign tactics over a period of time. For instance, we check the number of impressions as one of the key metrics for increased brand awareness, and monitor other measurements such as CTRs (click-through-rates), engagement rate percentages, number of visits to the campaign landing page, and a surprising element is the rate of new followers growing on our LinkedIn platform.

While different target markets and a diverse audience mix will result in specific campaign set-ups, we compare the metrics against industry benchmarks to ensure we are tracking towards our key strategic goals.

In terms of qualitative measurements, we’ll carry out a new brand study to understand the effect of those tactics further down the marketing funnel. In addition, our clients also form part of our marketing journey and continually give us feedback which helps us shape our strategy even further. Our client partners continue to be very supportive in sharing their thoughts with us, and some even helped us shape this campaign from the beginning.

RBI: Looking beyond the branding campaign, summarise JCB’s European targets and priorities?

Shinzawa:

With the rise of ecommerce transactions, the risk of fraud attempts has also increased. In response to this, we are focusing on promoting our 3DS risk prevention tool. By using this tool, customers can feel more secure and confident when making online purchases, which in turn can lead to increased customer loyalty.

Another priority area for us is increasing the uptake of contactless payments and raising awareness of this payment method for our cardmembers when they travel abroad. By promoting the use of contactless payments, we can make transactions easier and more convenient for cardmembers. This can help us increase customer satisfaction and encourage more frequent use of their cards.

By centring the campaign around omotenashi, which is a concept that embodies the ethos of Japanese hospitality, we are also aiming to position ourselves as the preferred payment method for merchants.

By providing merchants with secure and reliable payment processing solutions, as well as offering customers a seamless and convenient payment experience, we can help boost merchant revenue and improve the overall customer experience. Overall, by promoting the benefits of accepting JCB as a payment method, we hope to increase our market share and strengthen our position as a leading payment service provider.

RBI: In Japan, JCB has been piloting CBDCs on contactless cards. Is this sort of pilot project you can envisage being trialed in other markets?

Shinzawa:

With the Bank of England recently announcing that there is more than a 50% chance of issuing a Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC), it’s a matter of when, not if, that these are rolled out on a global scale. While there are still numerous challenges to overcome before this becomes a reality, such as ensuring that it is interoperable with other payment systems, available in an offline environment, and can be used across borders, we believe we can help address some of these challenges by leveraging our existing infrastructure.

Last October, we announced an exciting pilot project called JCBDC with IDEMIA and Soft Space to develop a CBDC payment solution and conducted a pilot test last December with merchants across Tokyo, Japan.

JCBDC is a term coined by JCB. It stands for ‘Japan CBDC’ Japanese CBDC. JCB Digital Coin is JCB’s solution for digital currency.

This is an excellent example which shows how we can use existing payment acceptance hardware for new CBDC payment systems, which is a huge benefit for both consumers and merchants.

This JCBDC project is only in Japan. However, we believe that any solution developed in Japan could be applied in the European market as well. If there are any chances that JCB can help with addressing some of the challenges for CBDC, we seek the opportunities.