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Uniqlo: The Strategy Behind The Global Japanese Fast Fashion Retail Brand Mention the brand Uniqlo 10 years ago to anyone outside of Japan and you would get a confused look. Mention Uniqlo to any global citizen today and the associations of quality, affordability and fashionable come to mind immediately. The Uniqlo brand story In 1972, Tadashi Yanai inherited his father’s chain of 22 men’s tailoring stores, Ogori Shoji in Ube, Yamaguchi. Shortly after becoming company president in 1984, he opened a new store – Unique Clothing Warehouse, which was later shortened to Uniqlo However, one of the main challenges faced was consumer perception of the brand – it was perceived to be a discount retailer selling cheap and low-quality apparel to the suburbs. This perception completely changed when the brand opened a 3-storey store in iconic Harajuku in central Tokyo in 1998 – people started noticing Uniqlo for its high-quality fleece jackets. The brand perception instantly shifted from being cheap and low-quality, to being affordable but high-quality. Today, Uniqlo is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Fast Retailing Company Limited and it is known for providing high-quality private-label casual-wear at low prices. As of September 2019, the brand has grown to more than 2,196 stores in 21 countries across Asia, Europe and US in just a matter of 21 years. It is the biggest apparel chain in Asia with over 800 retail stores in Japan alone. According to global management magazine Forbes, Uniqlo has a brand value of USD 8.6 billion and is 84th on the list of the World’s Most Valuable Brands. Much of it is credited to its founder’s strategy of innovation and its very customer-centric culture . Uniqlo aims to be the world’s largest clothing retailer by 2020 with a sales target of USD 27.6 billion, based largely on expansion in US, China and online. If Uniqlo achieves this ambitious target, it will dethrone Inditex ( Zara ’s parent company) as the leader in global apparel. The Uniqlo Brand Strategy Uniqlo’s brand message encapsulates a clear vision: “Uniqlo is a modern Japanese company that inspires the world to dress casual”. The corporate strategy that has worked for Uniqlo so far is to “totally ignore fashion” instead of chasing fast-fashion trends like its other competitors. The brand philosophy “Made for All” positions its clothing to transcend age, gender, ethnicity and all other ways to define people. Contrary to its name “Uniqlo”, its clothes are simple, essential yet universal, enabling the wearers to blend them with their individualistic style. This design driven clothing brand offers unique functional performance owing to in-house fabric and design innovation. The company distinguishes itself from its price driven competitors by branding its signature innovations with names like HeatTech, LifeWear and AIRism. Uniqlo provides a superlative physical shopping experience by impeccably managing its stores, inculcating a positive employee culture and through in-store technology like video tutorials that describe product attributes.

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