Tsuyoshi Matsushita, President, MTG
To reflate Japan and reform it, Shinzo Abe, prime minister since December 2012, proposed the three “arrows” of what has become known as Abenomics: monetary stimulus, fiscal “flexibility” and structural reform. The first arrow would mobilize Japan’s productive powers and the third would expand them, allowing the second arrow to hit an ambitious fiscal target. The prevailing view is that there have been too few structural reforms however in the health sector we have seen the introduction of “act to promote healthcare and medical strategy”, the revision of the “pharmaceutical affair law” as well as the “Sakigake Package strategy” all part of the japan revitalization plan.
Could you walk us through which have been the most relevant reforms in your opinion and comment on its success?
First of all, when the Abenomics was first introduced, people had extremely high expectations, and it created a very positive energy in the country. They were convinced that it was going to bring Japan to a better place – I think it had a big effect in that sense.
Among the three arrows, we are particularly interested in the medical aspect because we are involved in the manufacture of beauty, wellness and health care products. Japan’s population is decreasing meanwhile its life expectancy is increasing, so it is a strong interest for us to see how we can help people to stay healthy and live longer.
Since its establishment MTG has continuously been adapting, evolving and helping to provide high quality beauty and wellness products. Its more than 20 years of experience in the sector has proven its capability of fulfilling with customers’ expectations.
Could you walk us through MTG’s history and its major milestones, and tell us how it has evolved to brand blockbuster products such as MDNA SKIN or SIXPAD which have in fact been co – developed with top professionals such as Madonna or Cristiano Ronaldo?
There is something special about this company which I founded more than 20 years ago. We have successfully evolved to become a unique manufacturer of beauty and wellness devices as well as cosmetics. I am from Gotō Islands, a chain of small islands from the Nagasaki coast. When I go there, I get a hint of how Japan is going to look like in the future. In this little island, the elementary schools are closing, the parks are decreasing, and the aging population is increasing. Why did I come to Nagoya? Well, when I was a child I asked my teacher which was the biggest company in Japan, and he said TOYOTA, which is located in Nagoya. This is why I came to this city. I established this company when I was 23 and we started off with 3 employees – now we are about to reach the 1000 digit. Last year we achieved our highest sales record, which was almost 30 billion yen. We have 9 offices in Japan, 5 across Asia and we are just going to open one in America this year, in Los Angeles. Next, we are going to go to New York. In fact the opening of the American office was planned for next year, however, last December, I was invited by Madonna at her house for a meeting where we both decided to open it this year instead. All of a sudden, we are receiving more offers from other countries now.
For a venture company like ours, when the market changes, we see it as an opportunity and take advantage of it. If you take a look at our revenues they have never stopped growing even during the financial crisis in 2008. I believe that Japan is an island with plenty of treasures.
We are always coming up with all these new ideas and constantly hiring new developers. We are strong at creating and developing products that nobody else in the world would expect. Japanese companies are very strong at this, but they are not as good at marketing and branding. Nevertheless we are putting a lot of energy into these two fields because we feel that they are very important. In fact, our vision is a synthesis of the following 4 factors: creation, technology, branding and marketing .
We have succeeded to work with Madonna as a partner while more than 100 cosmetic companies were trying to contact her for their respective operations. She found the tiniest hidden diamond in our company. And we have Cristiano Ronaldo as a partner as well. In fact they are also very good friends of mine. They are not just moved by money – they believe in this company with genuine passion, meanwhile we are trying to overcome their expectations. I am, myself very focused on the design of our products. I check every item we create and personally give my employees instructions when necessary.
For instance, EMS – Electrical Muscle Stimulation – is the technology we have been working with. This is something we came up with Cristiano when we went to his house. It was about two and half years ago. Luckily enough the top professor for EMS development was in Kyoto university. It was Professor Moritani, who had been researching EMS for 40 years. His research, MTG’s technology, and Cristiano’s input were all brought together to create our product: SIXPAD, a technology that uses electrical signals to directly stimulate and exercise muscles.
We took his research and combined it with Cristiano’s training program and turned that into our product. We were able to create a world class product in a short period of time. We even had Cristiano come to Japan for marketing. This is our business model that has worked very well so far. We can take any product and produce the same kind of success.
MTG is also a part of The Japan Home-Health Apparatus Industrial Association. This association is responsible for the assurance of quality, safety and effectiveness of household medical and health equipment, and consists of over 70 top Japanese companies. As Vice Chairman of this association, it is our aim to ensure that both MTG and the industry are able to deliver safe and quality products.
For Madonna’s products, including SKIN REJUVENATOR or CHROME CRAY MASK products among others, we bring all the ingredients and components necessary from Montecatini, Italy. Madonna only uses this product, and she has been tremendously involved in the whole development process. When you work with someone like her they demand a lot and push you to your limits. What I am striving for is to exceed her expectations, to go beyond it. We are in the process of creating these brands in the beauty and wellness categories, and are actually creating a new concept in the industry called United Beauty which consists of combining cosmetics with beauty devices.
Which is MTG’s mid-term growth strategy and how are you planning to expand overseas?
By the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, we are looking forward to expanding to 50 countries. In May, we are going to make a debut in UK. The press is claiming that it has been years since a Japanese company came to the country and held this kind of event. The world used to perceive Japan as a leader in this field, nevertheless we have lost a lot of ground to other countries. I want to prove that Japan is still a strong nation. Actually, we have been the main sponsor for the Grammy Awards Official Backstage Gift Lounge.
Our sales are growing every year, and we are expecting to reach 80 billion yen by the Olympics. The profit ratio is increasing at an incredible pace as well. There are only 44 companies that have reached the 10-billion-yen profit in Aichi Prefecture.
We have maintained an average growth of 130% each year. I want to be a 1 trillion yen company by the time the handover of the company to the next generation takes place. The reason why we want to increase the sales is because we want to make our employees, partner companies, and our customers happy. We really want to revitalize the local areas and business sector. When I was a baby, my biological parents gave me away and another family welcomed me in their house and took care of me. My life was saved when I was a baby, so I believe it is my duty to go out and save other people.
Which is the legacy that you would like to leave to the next generation and what final message would you like to convey to our global audience?
We are viewed as a large-scale company, but we are actually still a very small one with a huge potential for growth. I still do not think that we have succeeded, and it will probably remain so until I die. I should have died when I was 5 months old, but I am alive fortunately enough, so I want to live looking to the future very positively. I want to look back and think of all that I have accomplished when the end of my life comes. As the company grows, I want my employees to think that we are providing something good to the world. We are all going to be gone in a few decades, and I want to know that I made the most of it when I die.
When we tried to work with Madonna and Cristiano Ronaldo, nobody believed that it was really going to happen. I want to take on challenges that people do not think that we could even consider. Everybody got a wrong idea, they think we grew because of the technology. Obviously, it is one of the reasons alongside the help of our partners. I could not have done it all alone.
Of course there is no way for everything to keep going so smoothly, but I am always going to fight the battle. As we succeed in these things, we are creating our personal success story. I talk to a lot of people from Japanese companies who are pulling their operations out from China, who just because they failed in that market are telling me to not even bother. Nevertheless, that is exactly the kind of situation we want to adventure ourselves in and prove the opposite. We want to jump into the things that other companies would not dare to.
MTG is just a small chicken coming out of an egg, it’s going to get stronger, and it’s going to fly. Watch us fly.