Panasonic is celebrating the 100th anniversary of its founding with a special week-long event in Tokyo called Cross-Value Innovation Forum 2018. Company President Kazuhiro Tsuga kicked off the milestone event--taking place through November 3rd and expected to be attended by 50,000 visitors--with a keynote speech that focused on the company's strategy of looking forward to its second century through "co-creation" with business partners, customers, and everyday consumers.

Introduces "Lifestyle Update" Business

Introducing a concept called "Lifestyle Update" business, Tsuga explained that while Panasonic has traditionally been in the business of "upgrading," or improving the lives of individuals through home appliances and consumer electronics meticulously developed to completion, the company is now shifting to a strategy of providing "lifestyle updates." These come from products and services that evolve with the individual end-user's personal preferences and way of life.

Lifestyle updates will come from the use of data on personal lifestyle and consumption habits that are gleaned and applied in real-time.

Aims to Redefine the Panasonic Identity

Such a transition will require a fresh look at the Panasonic brand, which over the decades has expanded its range of businesses far and wide. "When Panasonic was a consumer electronics manufacturer, the company was easy to understand," Tsuga said. "However, on the eve of our Centennial, when we stepped back and took a look at the many things we do now--as a major supplier of batteries for electric vehicles, a provider of solutions for the factory production lines of other companies, and as a key player in a growing number of industries--we realized we no longer knew how to define ourselves."

Tsuga acknowledged that although company performance was proving satisfactory, he realized that more was needed. "We must understand in what way Panasonic can serve society," he said. Tsuga also realized that, despite the broad array of businesses--whether in the home appliance, automotive, factory automation, or other sectors--each one has remained true to the company's original philosophy of enhancing quality of life," he explained.

Partnering with China's Biggest Hot-pot Chain

Tsuga noted that modern trends in mobility and diversifying lifestyles and personal tastes create profound opportunities for Panasonic on a global scale. He cited examples where the company has aligned with partners to produce results.

One of these business-to-business relationships is already at work, providing quicker service and more choice to customers of China's biggest hot-pot restaurant chain. "Hai Di Lao Hot Pot, which has more than 360 outlets worldwide and some 50,000 employees, is using our robot arms at one of its restaurants in Beijing to automate the food preparation process, and other automated systems are permitting customers to adjust the ingredients whenever they want," he said. Tsuga cited this is an example of a consumer "lifestyle update" that improves customer satisfaction, while also improving worker safety in an environment with boiling liquids.

China is a critical market for Panasonic, and the company holds a unique position in the minds of Chinese entrepreneurs who have turned to the writings of Panasonic founder Konosuke Matsushita for inspiration and the keys to business success. "Panasonic has the distinction of being the only Japanese company invited to join the China Entrepreneur Club," Tsuga said.

Membership has led to an alliance with construction software developer Glodon and Beijing Linkdata Technologies, a battery-focused energy management company, to apply Panasonic's high-performance vacuum insulated glass technology to temporary housing units for construction workers. The units, which can be constructed and put into place within two months, can easily be personalized (a "lifestyle update"), and transported. They are also ideal for places with high economic growth but housing shortages, such as Dubai, and for use in disaster zones.

Promotes "HomeX" as Extension of Inhabitant's Lifestyle

Panasonic's position as a maker of a wide variety of systems for the home including lifestyle-related products has led to the HomeX Project, which aims to create new value in daily living through user-experience and user-interface focused design ideally suited to different types of living spaces. "HomeX is always connected with the resident 24/7," Tsuga said. "It is a total information infrastructure that understands what the inhabitant wants by the season, or depending on weather conditions, and it can even call up the right music based on a person's mood."

Tsuga explained that a home should be a living thing, always adapting to change, as should all of the appliances in it. "The days of home appliances becoming obsolete will soon be over," he said. "They must fit with and evolve with the times."

Panel on Technology and Corporate Strategy

Following Tsuga's remark's, influential panelists joined the Panasonic executive on stage to discuss the impact of technology on corporate strategy. CEO of Alibaba in Japan Makoto Kouyama, Hitotsubashi University strategy professor Ken Kusunoki, and former newscaster and professor Nobutaka Murao talked about how companies are working to co-create the future. "Chinese consumers come to Japan to get what's not available in China, and use the Alipay payment platform for these purchases. We harvest that data and use it to figure out how to target these consumers in the future," said Kouyama.

Expresses Gratitude to Global Stakeholders

Cross-Value Innovation Forum 2018 marked the culmination of Panasonic's 100th Anniversary Global Exhibition Tour, held to express the company's gratitude to its customers, trading partners, employees, and the many others who have supported the company's development and growth over the decades.

Visitors to the event include individuals from the company's corporate customer base in Japan and around the world, government and public organizations, members of the media and financial sector, and current, retired and potential employees.