March 4, 2020
How the Integration of Two Cultures Led to Global Success
In a recent CNBC interview, Suntory CEO, Takeshi Niinami reflected on the acquisition of Beam Inc. and how the expansion abroad presented Suntory with both an opportunity and a challenge.
"I found how hard it can be for a Japanese company to go global," said Niinami. "There is a huge difference in culture. The western standard and the Japanese standard are very different."
So how did two proud cultures with a strong heritage put aside their differences to work together?
"Both parties tried to understand each other. Even though we had very different histories, we wanted to learn from each other. At their Kentucky Distillery, they didn't know anything about Japanese whisky. We at Yamazaki, Hakushu didn't know anything about the Kentucky bourbon. Both parties were curious about something they didn't know, and they studied each other with respect for one another," said Niinami. "That was a huge success - seeing products launched after that collaboration."
In 1899, Shinjiro Torii fulfilled a lifelong dream of creating a western style liquor that suited the Japanese palate with the establishment of Torii Shoten, a precursor to Suntory. Torii's initial production and sale of sweet wine and the first Japanese whisky ultimately paved the way for what would become a global business focused on bringing richness to people's lives through high-quality beverages.
Since our founding, Suntory has championed this vision by expanding our diverse portfolio to include brewed teas, bottled water, coffee and energy drinks, carbonated soft beverages, and of course, premium spirits, beer and wine.
In the past few years, we began aiming for further growth worldwide. This led to the acquisition of Beam Inc., producer of Jim Beam, and a world leader in bourbon that has been developed and produced for more than 200 years, originating as a family-owned business in Kentucky, USA.
Beam Suntory Inc. was formed in 2014, merging two brands, each with an enduring history, proud legacy, and deep respect for one another, and becoming the world's third largest premium spirits company.
Today, Beam Suntory's premium spirits are enjoyed globally, from Kentucky to Tokyo. Our brands include the iconic Jim Beam and Maker's Mark bourbon brands, Courvoisier cognac, the Suntory whisky Kakubin, as well as world renowned premium brands, our Knob Creek bourbon, Japanese whiskies such as Yamazaki, Hakushu, Hibiki, and Toki, and more.
In the years to come, we look forward to continued growth as a company committed to creating new value and delivering the highest quality products and services to people around the world.
Watch the full CNBC interview here.