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

"They never told us much about the subjects of their conversations so I can really only guess, but I think they were plotting, exchanging their innermost thoughts. And I suppose that’s how the two of them, although they were so different, were able to share so completely everything that lies at the heart of what we now call the ‘Honda philosophy’. For example Mr. Honda used to say that ‘the basis of a successful business is not capital but ideas’. Mr. Fujisawa could agree with that – both of them always worked hard at thinking. Well, as they hadn’t got any money, they had to have ideas!," said Kawashima, laughing. "It was their duel of wits that built the company. Anyone in our generation – and later generations – who knows them first hand would probably agree. They were ideal partners but they were also friendly rivals. ‘Leave me to get with my business!’ ‘Hey, look at what I’ve done!’ they would say as they tried to outdo one another. They were a fantastic team!" said Kawashima.

This independent and totally original sales network, dreamed up out of thin air, made the most of the Cub F-Type’s special qualities as a consumer product. Fujisawa, the salesman, responded to the wishes of Mr. Honda, the maker, and turned in a superb performance. Around this time Fujisawa also put in place a unique consumer hire purchase system of payment by monthly installments. Although the Cub F-Type was only 25,000 yen, that was still more than three months’ starting salary for the average white-collar worker. So Fujisawa thought up a revolutionary way of organizing loans. The way it worked was that if, for example, a customer wanted to pay in twelve installments, he or she would sign twelve promissory notes which were endorsed by the retailer and passed on to Honda. This was a good system both for the customers and for Honda. It meant that Honda could be sure of getting paid and if by any chance there was a problem it only applied to a single purchase, thereby minimizing the risk.

"There’s another very important thing I’d like to say about Mr. Fujisawa," Kawashima continued. "When the direct mail program was launched, the Kyobashi branch of Mitsubishi Bank gave Honda a personal reference. At that point Honda hadn’t received any finance from Mitsubishi, but from the moment Mr. Fujisawa started doing business with them he always treated them in the same way, offering them full disclosure of the company’s accounts and management plans in both good times and bad. Mr. Fujisawa used to teach us ‘When you deal with banks, never hide anything. If you give them a completely logical explanation of your present situation and future plans they will always understand.’"

So the Cub F-Type went into mass production. It was a fantastic success, shipping 6,000 units in October and 9,000 in December.

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