What Is the Essence?

I have often written about the history of our company in this column. Instilled with the beliefs of our founder and former president, Masatsugu Iwama, who talked about "contributing to the constructive development of the industry" and "fostering things of value," I have unwaveringly abided by them to this very day as the mottos and principles of our company. Let me recall the time when we founded Audio senka (Audio Special Course), the predecessor of this magazine.

Joining the company in 1968, I personally came to believe in these principles as a realistic approach after reading the works of Konosuke Matsushita, the revered founder of Matsushita Electrical Industries Co. Among them, I was particularly impressed by Business Essentials, which I considered to be my business bible and read carefully over and over again. Matsushita's statement about the importance of creating a business that would be the envy of other businesses became the core philosophy of Audio senka, which was launched in 1971.

As the chief editor of the magazine, I stipulated its basic editorial policy to be one of wholeheartedly contributing to the development of the audio industry. As our understanding of the factors constituting the industry, in addition to makers and retail stores, I added users. In those days other industrial magazines considered the industry to be made up of only makers and retail stores; users were seen to be only phenomenal. However, I thought it was important to consider users as an even more important existence than makers and retail stores. My understanding was that users came first, then makers, and then retail stores. This has remained the backbone of my thinking to this day: users desire market-creating products; makers produce market-creating products; retail stores deliver market-creating products to users.

Accordingly, the relationship between retail stores and customers (users) is extremely important. I believe that retail stores must serve as cultural bases for customers in their business areas and that retail store owners themselves should realize this position and endeavor to contribute to the community and to customers. Retail stores, so to speak, only exist thanks to the trust of customers. Retail store owners must be conductors who make the products, the main actors, shine on the stage of the shop floor.

Since my reasoning at the time was quite principled, the owners of specialty stores used to complain about my articles. But I stuck to my belief that this approach would contribute to the development of the industry and lead to the prosperity of retail stores, and eventually most store owners came to agree with me. Through Audio senka, we were able to nurture audio specialty stores.

In 1972 I planned and carried an article in the magazine titled "The Market and Audio Specialty Stores in Koriyama" based on statistics, which I had learned from the editor of a radio and television magazine who worked with me for a couple of years at that time. The article comprised an analysis of the scale of the audio market in Koriyama gleaned from data on the city's population and diffusion of consumer durables, as well as coverage of audio retail stores there, and suggested the potential of the city's audio business. The article proved to be very popular, and subsequently it became a series covering prefectures and municipalities around the country. Together with a column on the top 10 bestselling products, it became one of the two most popular features in Audio senka. Articles on new product information and the marketing of market-creating products also played an infrastructural role in the industry.

When thinking about things, first of all it is important to grasp the essence. A phenomenon is no more than transient. Even if you think you see the essence there, eventually it is going to crumble. It is in the nature of human beings, and of companies, to repeat their understanding of the transient. But the essence is permanent. Why? Because human beings exist eternally. Only those companies that grasp the essence will survive.