Shinichi: “Co-branding is an innovative and unique key to success”
Shinichi Morikawa joined Total Lubricants Japan in Tokyo 15 years ago as OEM* key account manager. With over just a dozen employees, the company sells and distributes more than 3,000 tons of products every year, ranging from automotive and industrial lubricants to special fluids for commercial sector and racing sports.
While in charge of selling lubricants directly to automotive makers, Shinichi successfully developed an innovative concept for the Japanese oil industry: co-branding.
Building on Total and Elf brands
Key to success in Japan is based on long-term commitment and reciprocal trust between partners. “We have developed strong partnerships worldwide with companies like Peugeot-Citroen and Renault, which are Total’s historical partners,” Shinichi says. “I am glad that Total Lubricants Japan successfully accompanied them into the Japanese market. Our nationwide penetration ratio in their dealers’ networks is one of the best worldwide.”
While Total expanded its business, the Japanese team was however facing a challenging everyday environment, as Shinichi explains:
“The current Japanese car market is very mature, with major local companies historically dominating the Lubricants market. My challenge has always been to develop new and efficient marketing strategies to expand into new business fields. In this fierce environment, it was clear to me that we had to build with potential partners on our two greatest assets: our brands, TOTAL and ELF.”
Co-branding, an employee’s idea turned into a commercial success
Unlocking opportunities in a closed market is not an easy task, but Shinichi and the Total Lubricants team have come up with a milestone concept: “My greatest personal achievement is to have successfully done what no other competitors have done before in Japan: co-branding.”
Co-branding is a joint development of lubricants products between Total and car & motorcycles manufacturers. “We have developed a range of engine oils called Les Pleiades jointly with Subaru. Another range of lubricants, named Vent Vert, was launched in cooperation with Kawasaki. Through these collaborations, the final users benefit directly from products which are exclusively designed for their specific car and motorcycle engines.”
Bringing such concept from scratch into industrial production was a new and powerful experience for Shinichi. “Indeed Total has enough flexibility to accept such employees’ unique and innovative ideas. As a result, only our company is proposing this co-branding concept to Japanese OEMs. Thanks to our distinctive culture in marketing, we have secured a unique place in this highly competitive market. Personally, this ongoing success makes me proud to work for Total.”
Racing for inspiration
Since 2015, Shinichi has moved to Nagoya for a new challenge. He is now in charge of automotive aftermarket channel sales, through Total’s Japanese distributors.
“Car and motorcycles manufacturers, especially those involved in Moto GP and F1, remain a strong and positive inspiration in my everyday and future work. Racing enhances competition and innovation, and it motivates me to create new concepts for our products.
At our level, we are only lubricants providers, mainly engine oil for passenger cars. But I am convinced that with the right choice in lubricants, our customers benefit both from fuel economy and environmental friendly products. This is my own contribution towards a better energy future: unlocking the potential of our products for the sake of our customers.”
* OEM : Original Equipment Manufacturer
"Thanks to our distinctive culture in marketing, we have secured a unique place in this highly competitive market."
2015 - Present
Automotive Distributors Manager, Sales department, Total Lubricants Japan
2003 - 2014
OEM Business Account Manager (including TOTAL and FINA brand sales through distributors), Total Lubricants Japan
1996 - 2003
Project Manager , Consumer Service Department, Equant Japan (now Orange Business Services Japan)
Sales Representative, New Project Department, UK Oil Company
Graduated from Meiji University