If you mentioned Uniqlo 10 years ago, few people would bat an eyelid. However, the fashion company has grown over the years and is now synonymous with quality, fashion, and affordability. This brand has become successful due to the implementation of effective marketing strategies. Although the company competes with top fashion agencies like Gap, Zara, and many more, it has grown astoundingly. In order to understand the secrets behind this Japanese Giant, it is vital to look at the Uniqlo marketing strategies. This article gives you a view of this brand’s history and its strategies to ensure business growth.
Uniqlo History – The Brand Story
Tadashi Yanai inherited twenty-two men tailoring stores from his father back in 1972. After becoming president of the stores, he decided to open a brand new store in Hiroshima called Unique Clothing Warehouse. They shortened their name to Uniqlo. The promotion for this new store is known to be the catalyst for the company’s expansion. Tadashi’s inspiration came from his travels to Europe and the US, discovering large casual apparel chains. This gave him a view into the potentials available in Japan’s casual wear market. Therefore, he set goals to enhance the family’s business strategy and switch from suiting to casual clothing. He also chose to evolve into providing fashion goods for customers at a low cost.
While researching, Tadashi Yanai discovered that they vertically integrated most fashion chains in the US and Europe. The companies took control of all the business processes, including design, production, and retail. By 1998, Tadashi Yanai already had over 300 stores spread across Japan. One main issue that this fashion brand faced was the people’s perception of the brand. Most people believed Uniqlo was just a discount retailer that sold low-quality clothing to the suburbs at a low price. Uniqlo changed this perception when it launched the Global Quality Declaration in 2004. The declaration was to stop producing low-priced and poor-quality garments.
Consumers’ perception changed from then, and today the company has over 2000 stores in 25 countries. However, it remains the biggest fashion chain in Asia, with just 800 stores available in Japan. The brand is also one of the top 100 most valuable brands in the world.
Uniqlo Marketing Strategies
Many categories go into making Uniqlo a successful brand today. This article briefly evaluates the different Uniqlo strategies and how they contribute to the brand’s growth; let’s take a look.
Uniqlo Marketing Strategies – Branding
This brand’s message clearly states the vision for the brand, inspiring the world to adopt casual dressing. Unlike other fast fashion brands continually trying to keep up, this brand usually ignores fashion. It’s a brand focused on providing outfits for all genders, ages, and ethnicities. Unlike the brand’s name, the clothing is simple and allows you to blend it into your everyday life. The best part about this Uniqlo brand is the signature materials it uses, which are known as HeatTech, LifeWear, and AIRism. In addition, they heighten customers’ shopping experience due to the positive employee culture the brand cultivates. There are varying factors that ensure the brand’s success, and we will explore them below.
Delivery System Supports the Brand Promise
A popular challenge that most businesses face is defining their brand promise. Unfortunately, those that can achieve this cannot seem to deliver on this promise most of the time. To be considered a successful brand, you should create a supportive company that helps to facilitate the implementation of set strategies. Uniqlo is successful in this venture as it clearly defines its brand promise, providing users with high-quality, universal, and well-performing casual wear and all at an affordable price. Uniqlo has also implemented a delivery system to ensure delivery on its brand promise.
The company ensures all product planning, distribution, designing, and manufacturing takes place in-house. It is one of the Uniqlo marketing strategies and has been very successful. This means that it can meet the customers’ needs based on the customer’s purchase. This allows them to prevent over-production of goods or overheads, and they can upgrade their stock within weeks or finish it up within days. Keeping it in-house also allows them to focus on core products.
Product Development and an Efficient Supply Chain
Tadashi reiterates that Uniqlo is more of a technological company than a fashion company. That’s because the brand’s approach to manufacturing is similar to that of the technology company in the fast fashion industry. Their top competitor Zara has the largest clothing business because of how fast they respond to fashion trends. This company gets items from the factory to stores in just a couple of days. The Uniqlo marketing strategies follow a completely different approach; the brand plans its production cycle a year in advance. They also focus on only a few styles rather than a large variety of trendy fashion.
Additionally, Uniqlo has a high and effective supply chain. By developing a comprehensive marketing strategy for the marketing department every season, merchandisers adjust their production by style to match demand. This fashion company holds concept meetings once a year before product launches. When production is complete, their staff members visit production centers to inspect and ensure the brand provides top quality. This company also ensures that the production centers address customer concerns. This way, the product team always has an idea of what the consumer thinks. In Uniqlo, the marketing team and production team work closely together.
Company Culture and Leadership
With a rank of number 54 among the best-performing CEOs in the world by Harvard Business Review, it’s clear that Uniqlo has visionary leadership. Since 2000, Tadashi has consistently provided over 700 percent shareholders return. He has also ensured the growth of Uniqlo’s market capitalization by 39 million dollars. He is known for his huge success and commended for the explosive growth of Uniqlo under his leadership. He owes his impressive success to his strong company culture and Uniqlo marketing strategies. It focuses on customer success and teamwork.
He shows his teamwork culture by ensuring his employees feel comfortable enough to provide suggestions. The company’s values are shown in its process and reflected in its employees. The company ensures accurate display of their financials daily in their stores. They also emphasize the retail store experience. They ensure a positive customer experience by ensuring that all staff attend three-month training. The managers watch all the activities of employees and analyze them to decide the best fit for each one. They have a Uniqlo University in Tokyo where they appropriately train all Uniqlo managers.
Dedication to Innovation
To grow, a company needs to handle its innovation and marketing effectively. Uniqlo is well aware of this and brings innovation into their products through the fabrics. Uniqlo uses Japanese textile experts to provide top-quality products for Uniqlo. They have three signature innovations which are HeatTech, AIRism, and LifeWear. The fabrics are all copyrighted and branded so that the competitors do not attempt to match the fabric. Tadashi once stated that his main competitor is Apple because it wants to be the most innovative company globally.
Uniqlo Marketing Strategies – their Communication Strategy
You can find one of the Uniqlo marketing strategies in their communication strategy. Although this company once relied completely on flyers and TV commercials, it has grown over the years. Today, Uniqlo uses different methods to communicate the brand’s ideal, and we’ll be exploring them below.
One of the communication methods featured in the Uniqlo marketing strategies is their store environment. Their aisle, lighting, and design create a welcoming aura and ensure a positive shopping experience. In addition, the brand communicates simplicity to its customers. They also limit the number of designs they create, but customers won’t note this easily as the company stacks clothing from floor to ceiling to create an illusion of abundance.
Another of their communication strategies is the use of global ambassadors. The brand uses celebrity endorsement to create a positive brand image. The brand presently uses six global ambassadors, and they’re all in the sports industry. For example, Ayumu Hirano is an international snowboarder. Roger Federer and Kei Nishikori are tennis medalists, Adam Scott is a pro-golfer, and Shingo Kunieda and Gordon Reid are wheelchair tennis champions. Their partnerships usually last for five years, and they task the ambassadors with promoting the brand worldwide.
Another communication strategy that is one of Uniqlo’s marketing strategies is its digital marketing. They launched their first digital marketing campaign in 2007 and were among the first brands to use this communication channel. The brand’s campaign won them many advertising awards and showed they could communicate with their customers effectively around the globe. They also ran another campaign in 2019 by partnering with TikTok. The campaign encouraged their customers around the globe to show off their Uniqlo outfits.
Another one of the Uniqlo marketing strategies that feature amongst their communication strategies is designer collaboration. The brand collaborates with global designers, giving them access to the global market. With international brand collaborations, they can build brand awareness in places like the European markets.
Uniqlo’s Sustainability Approach
Sustainability is a top discussion globally and continues to grow in popularity. It is fast becoming a top hygiene factor for companies looking to create a positive brand image with global customers. One of Tadashi’s top principles is to give back to society. It believes that the company’s value is dependent on the value it offers society. Tadashi believes that a company that focuses on profit alone cannot survive. The company provides new value through their products by only procuring raw materials concerned about animals’ welfare and the environment.
They also ensure that everyone respects human rights, and Uniqlo always ensures workers have a safe working environment. Additionally, the company’s dedication lies in eliminating waste through its action. Its commitment is to reduce water use by 15% by 2020. Also, the brand supports communities where they operate and where their factories lie. They continually donate items to countries and regions that provide shelter to displaced persons and refugees.
Uniqlo is a fashion company that embodies the Japanese philosophy of simplicity. This philosophy continues to reflect in the Uniqlo marketing strategies and their operations. This company grew from a men’s tailoring shop into an international casual wear company due to effective strategies implemented by Tadashi Yanai. His visionary leadership is helping the company fast become the world’s largest fast-fashion retailer. There are many secrets behind this Japanese giant, and this article explains them to help you understand better. Building and sustaining a relevant brand isn’t a walk in the bank, but Uniqlo holds up quite impressively.