HomeDissertation:The ASICA Model and the Coming Hospitality-Powered Renaissance

The ASICA Model and the Coming Hospitality-Powered Renaissance

7.On the Threshold of a Marketing Renaissance

As things stand today, we are at the mercy of mathematical formulas in various fields. Despite feeling rather suspicious about the rationality of such numerical analysis, we inevitably find it tough to extract ourselves from devotion to figures as the categorical imperative. At the same time, hospitality and other variables impossible to express numerically are not being handled to their fullest capacity, especially in marketing, advertising, and similar domains. The time is truly right, therefore, to once again revisit the time-honored schemes that have been traditionally applied in such fields.

Against the backdrop of today’s drastically digitized society, human relations are growing increasingly stiff and awkward. In my estimate, this rather bizarre era, in which bonds between organizations are also assessed numerically, cannot survive much longer. Much like Moore’s Law (on the continued doubling of microprocessor speed) in the IT sector, within society at large we are witnessing the steady and ongoing eradication of the more fuzzy components that define human nature. This is a trend, in reality, that is proceeding in a pattern directly contrary to the law of thumb expressed in Moore’s Law. At this rate, those qualities will eventually collapse in their entirety. To avoid that fate, we must analyze the era during which the organization, society, and other units enjoyed their greatest vitality, rousing ourselves from the nonsensical tendency to stress numerical figures as the crowning priority.

While I am not sure about the situation today, at least until recently German automakers reportedly consigned the final decisions on vehicle drivability to the sentiment of the craftsmen who built the products. Despite that approach, however, German cars frequently experience light bulb burnouts, worn brake pads, wiper blade deterioration, and other minor troubles. I once asked a German car dealer why such shortcomings, areas that are rarely if ever a cause of concern in Japan, occur in German cars. I received the following reply: “By causing small snags that do not lead directly to accidents, it becomes possible to impress upon owners the importance of maintenance. Regular vehicle checks will often uncover major problems that are capable of leading to accidents. It is important for users themselves to stay in touch with their automobiles on a day-to-day basis. We see that as the key to preventing serious accidents before they can occur.”

As evidence of this approach, a manual about two centimeters thick was being sold with the purpose of encouraging car owners to personally perform repairs, maintenance, and other procedures. In my mind, this is an example of true hospitality. This is certainly preferable to currying favor with users through marketing slogans about how cars will never break down and having the vehicles live up to those claims for a number of years until the owners become “mechanically tone deaf” (only to perhaps be blindsided by a major accident later on).

That is, while tapping into the mechanical status of the car day-to-day and honing one’s own repair skills may require time and work, it is obviously preferable to suffering major mishaps. This is a plan of action rooted in full awareness of issues that may indeed occur sometime down the road. Under such an approach, user understanding of how motor vehicles, by their very nature, will suffer breakdowns, and therefore should be treated with great care, is utilized in advancing effective safety measures. Obviously, this is a dimension totally unrelated to numerical management or control.

It is said that the accounting and financial divisions hold the greatest sway at today’s companies. If we assume that businesses primarily exist because of the markets and society around them, and therefore effectively function for the purpose of that society, then it makes sense that the sales and service sectors, which operate at the frontlines of corporate endeavor, should wield the strongest clout. Viewing the current situation, however, it would seem that companies could not care less about providing hospitality to their customers or society and are rather engaged in the single-minded pursuit of numbers (i.e., sales and profit).

In the quest to secure such bottom-line figures, the slashing of the fixed expense of payroll costs, moves to pare down service, and other practices are rapidly becoming the rule. The harmful effects of treating numbers as the categorical imperative are appearing in this realm as well. While channeling considerable time and labor into attempts to somehow please highly demanding customers, judgments handed down by superiors that those efforts are running up excessive costs can be expected to discourage most people operating in the sales sector. Companies need to stress the importance of their frontline operations, and employees in those divisions need to treat customers with tender care. The flow of hospitality, which I have relentlessly underscored in this article, lies in this formula as well.

It is often said that “Advertising expresses the culture of the era.” The essence of this saying is that advertising language offers a means of defining the nature of the relationships between people, or between people and organizations, during any given period. If advertising had constantly subscribed to hospitality as the central axis of its expression, there would have been no need for the blanket self-restraint in the submission of ad copy that occurred following the huge earthquake and tsunami disaster in March 2011, apart of course from the need to ensure media time to report on the emergency situation. In my interpretation, the self-restraint shown at that time was symbolic of the guilty consciousness (on the part of the advertising industry) for ignoring hospitality in the all-out pursuit of economic rationality for so long.

In the wake of the devastating March 2011 earthquake and tsunami, I believe that a paradigm shift will increasingly emerge in various fields over the coming years. This refers to the end of trust in areas that we have trusted to date, loss of confidence in numerical values themselves and their significance, and other concerns that are rapidly coming into palpable focus and sensation.

From here on, and as this process unfolds, we may very well witness an unraveling of theories and equations that most people have placed their faith in for so long. Consequently, I feel that we are on the threshold of a genuine renaissance in such fields as marketing and advertising.

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