Staff Reporters
Jun 17, 2021

Asia-Pacific Power List 2021: Hikaru Adachi, FamilyMart

Adachi is widely credited with polishing the golden arches of McDonald's in Japan. Now he is taking on a new challenge with massive convenience chain FamilyMart.

Asia-Pacific Power List 2021: Hikaru Adachi, FamilyMart
Asia-Pacific’s 50 most influential and purposeful marketers

Hikaru Adachi

Executive director and CMO
New member

Hikaru Ray Adachi, best known for turning around the fortunes of McDonald's in Japan when he was CMO there from 2015 through 2018, is just getting started at convenience chain FamilyMart, which he joined as its first-ever CMO in October 2020.

Adachi is an active blogger, a book author, and the organiser of a regular 'business salon', where he hosts discussions on marketing topics and culture. His pedigree starts with an eight-year stint at P&G. Then, after a lateral move into consulting firms for a few years, he joined the German chemical company Henkel, which makes both industrial and consumer products in the home, laundry and beauty segments. Adachi spent nearly a decade with the company in Japan, rising to global VP.

But it was at McDonald's where Adachi achieved guru status. Joining at a time when the brand was suffering from quality issues and poor in-store experience, Adachi is widely credited with engineering a V-shaped recovery in his relatively brief time with the brand. 

Part of the formula for success was fun. For example, McDonald's Japan was among the first brands anywhere to collaborate with Pokemon Go, right when it was first becoming a phenomenon. In another example, a contest asked the country to come up with a better name for a burger that the brand had tentatively titled "juicy beef burger with hot potatoes grown in Hokkaido, cheddar cheese and specially made onion sauce flavored with burnt soy sauce”. A pork-based burger called the "Yakki" was introduced with a Star Trek spoof movie shown in a 4D theater

However, Adachi told Nikkei that he paid as much attention to the brand experience, explaining that while fun marketing can make a person think of going to a place, nothing really changes if the stores aren't clean and customers leave with a negative impression. 

Adachi told another interviewer that he sees the marketer's role as threefold: An inciter who can move people's hearts, a producer who animates the company to do whatever it takes to improve the business, and finally a manager who creates a mechanism for continued success, because nothing will improve without continuity of effort.

Following McDonald's, Adachi took on the role of senior product marketing for APAC at Niantic, the developer of Pokemon Go and other games. However, he left the company after just two years, telling an interviewer that because the pandemic postponed a big project he was meant to work on, he felt he would not be able to make a contribution commensurate with his salary.

Adachi has commented that he has no intention of resting on his laurels, and that part of the appeal of joining FamilyMart was that it represents a new challenge. "I believe that if you don't constantly update yourself and gain new knowledge and experience, your achievements will soon become obsolete," he said.

He has joked that his tenure might be a disaster because he has no experience within such a large company (FamilyMart has around 25,000 stores in eight markets across Asia). To avoid that fate, one of his first moves was to request in-store training. By understanding how the brand operates on the ground he would get a feel for what kinds of actions would or would not work. 

*Quotes and paraphrases above are translations from Japanese-language material.

Asia-Pacific’s 50 most influential and purposeful marketers


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