Using Direct Mail to Develop Sales Outlets for the Cub F-Type / 1952

Using Direct Mail to Develop Sales Outlets for the Cub F-Type / 1952

The Cub F-Type, as the latest auxiliary bicycle engine was known, was that product. Known as "the red engine with the white tank," its fresh-looking design fitted perfectly with Fujisawa’s dream of a mass-market product. The Cub F-Type was a small, lightweight, 50 cc 2-stroke engine made with as many die-cast components as possible. Its smart but cute appearance made everyone feel that they would be happy using it.

According to Kawashima, "I don’t know when Mr. Fujisawa hit upon his extraordinary new sales strategy, but the manufacturing trials were completed in March 1952 and I think he probably worked it out carefully in the time between then and the launch in June."

Fujisawa realized there was a completely undeveloped distribution network that everyone else had ignored. He was the only one in the company who was able to understand its potential. Fujisawa was thinking of the bicycle shops that one could find all over Japan. The management team were amazed by his fresh thinking and insight.

Kawashima recalls: "And so it was that we carried out our plan to contact the country’s 50,000 bicycle shops by direct mail. Mr. Fujisawa wrote the DM brochure and it was a masterpiece, very carefully prepared and skillfully composed. Both stages of his campaign showed just how thoroughly he had understood his potential customers’ way of thinking. ‘After the Russo-Japanese War (1904-05), your ancestors took the courageous decision to launch the imported bicycles in Japan and they are still the basis of your business today. But now customers want bicycles with engines. We at Honda have made such an engine. Please reply if you are interested.’ That was Mr. Fujisawa’s first message and he received 30,000 enthusiastic replies. He immediately embarked on the second stage of his campaign. ‘I am delighted to learn of your interest and we shall be distributing one machine per shop, on a first come first served basis. The retail price will be 25,000 yen and the wholesale price will be 19,000 yen. Payment can be made by postal transfer or through the Kyobashi branch of Mitsubishi Bank.’"

"In a further effort to secure orders," Kawashima continued, "Mr. Fujisawa got the Kyobashi branch of Mitsubishi Bank to help by sending out a letter signed by the manager requesting customers to send their remittances to Honda through the Mitsubishi Bank’s Kyobashi branch. Excited and apprehensive, we all waited to see what would happen."

Forty-seven years ago there were no automated means of sending out 50,000 letters. Every single address had to be written out by hand. This work was put out to freelance clerks but even so there was not enough time and all the staff had to join in as well, helped by employees of the Mitsubishi Bank’s Kyobashi branch.

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