ASICS - The pioneers of running shoes

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The ASICS Corporation is a Japanese manufacturer of sports equipment, which has been operating under this name since 1977. It is a successful and globally recognized brand. Athletics and indoor sports are particular success stories for ASICS. In fact, ASICS is the leading the way on the global running shoes market.

A jogger stretchin at the beach
A jogger stretchin at the beach

The Japanese group ASICS Corporation is a big name on the global running shoes and sports clothing market and one of the most successful companies in its field. Worldwide, ASICS employs 7484 members of staff.

Last year, the company's turnover rose to EUR 2.6454 billion, achieving a surplus of EUR 166.29 million. The company headquarters are situated in Kobe, Japan. The corporation heads up a total of 51 subsidiaries and branches.

Innovation at the running segment

Last year, its German branch ASICS Deutschland GmbH was able to increase its turnover by 11 per cent to EUR 116.2 million. Profit increased by almost a quarter to EUR 2.4 million.

The research and development center in Kobe is one of the most advanced in the world. It was here that, in 1985, the GEL-shock absorber was developed, which today is the ground rule for any running shoe on the market.

This technology absorbs shocks created while running. It diverts the vertical impact, redirecting it to the horizontal plane. All this is achieved without compromising the stability of the shoe. This improves the running experience and reduces the risk of injury.

History and milestones of ASICS

In 1949, Kihachiro Onitsuka founds ASICS' predecessor, Onitsuka Co. Ltd, in the Japanese city of Kobe. Onitsuka first makes himself a name in basketball. In 1950, his company rises to fame under the name of Onitsuka Tiger.

The Japanese brand celebrates its first great success when the following year, an athlete wearing Tiger running shoes wins the Boston Marathon.

In 1964, the Japanese women's volleyball team, the "Oriental Witches", wins an Olympic gold medal – wearing Tiger shoes.

Three years later, the Australian Derek Clayton (sponsored by ASICS), sets a legendary world record at the Fukuoka Marathon. He is the first person to complete the 42.195 kilometers in less than two hours ten minutes.

A healthy mind and a healthy body

After celebrating further Olympic successes, in 1977, the companies Onitsuka Tiger and GTO Sports Nets & Sportswear join forces to become the ASICS Corporation. The acronym ASICS stands for "Anima Sana In Corpore Sano" (A Sound Mind in a Sound Body).

During this time, ASICS is preparing to develop running shoes especially for women. To this day, many world-class female athletes wear ASICS shoes.

ASICS develops the GEL-shock absorber

In the 80s, ASICS develops the GEL-shock absorber (see above). ASICS still uses a wide range of GEL-shock absorbers in all its footwear products.

In 2007, ASICS releases the GEL-KINSEI. In the athletics industry, this is considered the most advanced running shoe ever developed. Shortly after the release, the company's founder Onitsuka passes away.

Strategy of ASICS

Unlike the global players Adidas, Nike or Puma, ASICS has hit the big time in the world of athletics. For centuries, the Japanese company continued to grow. First they specialized (running shoes), then they expanded, growing not only in size but also in product range.

Especially the variety of sports clothing on offer (jackets, trousers, shirts ...) increased. ASICS' motto "A Sound Mind in a Sound Body" seems to be popular with consumers.

An increasing number of customers are choosing running shoes by brands such as ASICS or Saucony over mainstream brands such as Adidas or Nike, despite the fact that many find their products more aesthetically appealing than ASICS. The ASICS philosophy – sensation beats appearance – seems to speak to consumers.

The company places great emphasis on founder Onitsuka's legacy: "We develop shoes that match the athletes' requirements in terms of performance and comfort, at the same time minimizing the risk of injury."

Key figures of ASICS

Facts and figures relating to the ASICS Corporation (annual report 2014):

  • Company founders: Kihachiro Onitsuka
  • CEO: Motoi Oyama
  • Turnover: EUR 2, 6454 billion (exchange rate Yen-Euro on 23 October 2015 -->1 yen = 0.0075 Euro)
  • Corporate profit: +166.29 million euros in 2014
  • 7484 employees
  • TheGroup structure: ASICS Corporation headquarters are situated in Kobe, Japan; including 51 branches and subsidiaries (11 of which are in Japan)