Aeon Group

Aeon Group

Trust in the digital world.

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Jerry Black

Interview with Jerry Black, Executive Vice President, Chief Digital Officer

Aeon has and will continue to grow the traditional way, by knowing and serving the customers and communities in which it operates, and investing in new markets where their values should work well. (Where Aeon decides to make acquisitions, they empower local leadership — and see their role as providing access to new tools such as their credit card, capital, or private brand products).

A key to Aeon’s success is acceptance that the consumer industry has changed and that requires a never-ending mindset change by leadership.

For example:

  • Learning that the old methods of “brand research” serves up only opinions, and that by focusing on customers’ uniqueness and local market characteristics, Aeon will “differentiate itself to improve value to customers and store traffic."
  • Recognizing the need for combining online user experience with social media and for merging online (i.e. cookie) data with physical store/locational data to better understand their customers’ behavior.
  • Anticipating the increasing value of Millennial consumers and tapping into Aeon’s own high-potential Millennial employees to help the company better attract and serve this enormous segment.
  • Recognizing that today’s retail industry requires more specialized skills (e.g. data analysts), and hiring and developing people accordingly; and that capital technology investments can no longer be viewed as one-time events, but rather as an  ongoing process.

All of these examples flow from recognizing how digitalization is transforming how customers “experience the world.” thus, it has already and will continue to change how Aeon perceives the market.

In the survey, consumer trust emerged as an important aspect of growth meriting relatively large investments. To Mr. Black and Aeon, maintaining trust is a critical element to everything they do. The secret is “there are no secrets; there are no tricks.” He notes that, historically, trust could, in essence, be pushed by mass marketing and the best-known brands tended to be the most respected or trusted ones. Now, “trust is social media likes. That is where consumers formulate their trust." Transparency is the only way to go — about products, services and sustainability (“a moral issue now; an economic issue in the future). “Aeon understands that consumers really want to understand all the issues surrounding what they buy. And as Mr. Black acknowledges, “bad news travels fast, now more than ever.” Hence, performing on your values is the only way to earn and keep trust.

About Aeon Group

Aeon Group

Headquarters: Japan

Business: 168 malls plus 611 supermarkets and retail stores throughout Asia

Established: 1758

Annual revenues: ¥6,395 billion (US$51.5 billion)

Employees: 420,000

Brands: Topvalu (over 6,000 items)

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