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UNIQLO is a clothing apparel company, which was originally founded in Yamaguchi, Japan in 1949 as a textiles manufacturer. Now it is a global brand with over 1000 stores around the world. Redefining clothing, with a focus on quality and textiles which has been unwavering since the company’s origins in 1949. Uniqlo has positioned itself as a desirable and stylish brand that offers innovative and trendy products while maintaining a perfect balance between price and quality. The clothing line is made from the simplest designs that are the ideal blend of Japanese values with quality and simplicity.

The name comes from the words ‘unique’ and ‘clothing’ – simple and clever, just like clothes, which are world-famous for being high-quality, innovative, functional and affordable. From one store in Hiroshima, Japan in 1984, the brand has grown to more than 1300 stores in 15 countries.

Its clothing is up-to-date and fashionable, but not trendy. Its fabric innovation and in-house design provide exceptional and unique functional performance. Uniqlo provides “made for all’ clothing that can be worn whenever and wherever.

 Their styles aren’t anything super unique but they’re comfortable, good quality and cheap, especially the basic pieces, winter pieces and when they have sales. Uniqlo is brand that was designed to provide shoppers with clothes that are durable with a simplistic style.

While other brands are competing to catch on with the latest fashion trends faster than ever, UNIQLO’s strategy has always been about investing in:

  1. product development
  2. leveraging technology
  3. Advanced materials – even if it takes long cycles of iteration.

The company sees its brand as all-inclusive, with a clear purpose that is to create new and innovative clothing that is accessible to everyone.

Their designs constantly evolve with time and they try to modernize them to meet the standards of the young demanding population. They also give back to society and strive for a sustainable business model. They established Grameen Uniqlo in Bangladesh in 2011 to help the local communities and bring about economic development in the region and improve people’s standard of living by providing them with employment opportunities. They make and sell clothes locally and the benefits go to the local business.

Uniqlo maintains a balance between quality and pricing to cater to a maximum number of people possible and also keeping in check with competition in the market. While Uniqlo constantly works towards fashionable clothes which can be for long-term use and not based on constantly changing trends, it focuses on the quality of the products, it is found that Uniqlo provides products that are reasonable at the rate and long-lasting as compared to other brands like Zara, hence Uniqlo has a constantly growing market presence.

Uniqlo hasn’t produced a failed design in the market since its establishment, all the products do well and are sold out.

UNIQLO Marketing mix strategy

Marketing mix is one the major concept of marketing. Market mix creates a structure through which companies can build their brand value and can keep a check whether they are on correct track and fully updated.

Marketing strategy helps companies achieve business goals & objectives, and marketing mix (4Ps) is the widely used framework to define the strategies. 

Now in the marketing mix (4ps), we have a product, pricing, place and promotion. Somewhere down the line people felt that four Ps were not enough for the marketing mix. It had to face a lot of criticism mainly on the grounds that it was extremely product-focused. This was not enough for the economy which is based a lot on services as well nowadays. The six Ps contain all the four Ps of marketing – product, price, place and promotion. In addition, it contains, two new Ps, namely People and Performance.

Now through marketing mix we will analyze UNIQLOs current status and performance and reputation.

UNIQLO PRODUCT STRATEGY

At first sight, the designs from this brand seem a bit too simple and even boring, but this is actually another marketing move. Uniqlo makes non-trendy clothes on purpose and they are proud of it. Unlike Zara, for example, that copies trendy clothes from the runway, the Japanese company promotes clothing “for everyone.”

The shelves in their stores are filled with exactly the same clothes, they don’t have prints of “cool” pictures on their T-shirts. But this strategy brings the Uniqlo Company a considerable profit: it attracts people who don’t understand anything about modern fashion tendencies and don’t like spending hours in stores.

  1. The brand is able to use the interests of the people who are too shy to look different from others. The Japanese clothes look identical on runways and in real life and in order to buy them, you don’t need an image consultant.
2.  They rely on cheaper products in order to make their customers feel as if they are saving money.

3. The brand decided to fight against the competitors with their low prices: 35% of the products at Uniqlo are sold for less than $10. By today’s standards that’s not just cheap — it’s almost free. When customers look at the shelves that are full of relatively cheap clothing, they really want to buy a lot more things. Separately, these clothes don’t cost a lot, so we keep putting more and more things in our shopping baskets. Customers feel like all the other products are cheaper in the store. But this is not true: tops, pants, and sweaters cost pretty much the same money as their competitors.

  1. Uniqlo almost never sells shoes and boots, they rely on underwear, socks, and knitwear. And it’s not because nobody will buy the shoes. It’s just that customers often need little things: like shirts, underwear, and clothes for home. And shoes are not something that is purchased very often.
  • The Japanese rely on the clothes that, according to their personal hygiene rules, have to be changed regularly (the alternative is to have a lot of them). However, there is a huge chance that if you go into the store to get something small, you will also end up buying something bigger.
  • Big retail stores try to push their customers to making the right choice: designers place the shoes, clothes, and bags all next to each other so that the customers have a picture of the entire image. But Uniqlo chose a different way: they don’t tell you what you should wear their pieces with. At first sight, it seems that there is no system for how their pants, shirts, and skirts are placed. But this is not true.

All of the brand’s clothes are designed in order to look great with each other. Their designers start developing new collections one year before they end up on the shelves.

UNIQLO stays true to its roots and niche of simplistic, cheap and long lasting clothes they create garments that are for daily use, people buy it multiple time, multipurpose and technologically advanced to cater to working class people.

UNIQLO PROMOTION STRATEGY

In order to sell clothes and other products, modern brands have to have something more than clothes that are affordable and a wide choice.

Uniqlo have a customer creation team which does analysis on the customer purchase data which helps in gauging the customer preference and design promotional content accordingly. The companies growing online sales provide the team with necessary big data on the customer purchases and preferences which they use in their analysis.

 Then following those feedbacks in-house designers create the collection and an advertisement and then Uniqlo chooses there ambassador keeping in mind the niche and analysis.

 Nowadays, a good image is extremely important. It should not be some well-placed advertisements that make you go to their stores, it should be a variety of well-thought-out marketing moves that earn the loyalty of the customers.

  • In 2017, Paralympic tennis champion Gordon Reid becomes Uniqlo’s Global Brand Ambassador. He helps Uniqlo promote the idea of “clothes for everyone.”
  • They use celebrities for photo-shoots. Like Charlize and Novak djokovich.
  • The company takes part in the program of recycling old clothes and helping people in need.
  • They promote their clothes on social media and on big internet websites. Uniqlo has a Reddit account that gives them 20% of all their online purchases every day.
  • In another Ad called “This way to Utopia” it shows youth engaged in creative dance moves which showcases the creative designs and flexibility of Uniqlo merchandise and Ads a sense of being innovative in their design and mindset.

The brand invests a lot of money into collaborations with stars, athletes, and informal communication with customers. Besides, the head of the brand, Yanai, made philanthropy trendy and attracted the attention of the public.

In 2003, UNIQLO introduced its flagship heat-generating clothing line we all know now as HEATTECH. How this ‘heat technology’ works is that “its fibers absorb moisture that the body emits, and the fabric itself generates heat.”

Twitter and Facebook are the main social media platforms that Uniqlo uses to engage its customers in the UK and US because market research has shown that these are the two platforms that their customers utilise the most.

In China, however, where Facebook and Twitter are banned, Uniqlo uses Renren, a social media platform that Chinese locals use.Social media managers at Uniqlo also personally engage with their customers, providing that light-hearted human touch to their interactions, making customers feel at ease with the brand.

Arielle Dyda, a Uniqlo ecommerce manager exploits the huge online audience of Reddit and makes posts on her own personal account to promote the brand.

Uniqlo plans and sets a target every year for promotions of its brands and then creatively works on building the advertisement around niche of the brand for examples including people from different ethnic group to make people feel that the product is custom made for them. Involvement with the local community in meaningful ways helps to build positive brand awareness. Customers are also made aware of the brand’s social-consciousness, and feel good about patronising the brand.

UNIQLO PRICING STRATEGY

Unlike other brands which push their customers towards a designed set of clothes so that customers don’t have to think much but they can purchase the set, however Uniqlo design every product as a whole and sells them individually, so customers can but any garment or product of the collection they will match with each other and customer doesn’t need creative help. Also buying individual clothes attracts more people than buying a whole set altogether.

Uniqlo is a mid-range product and prices range from $25 to $100. The pricing is competitive and they differentiate themselves from the competition through unique simple designs and bright colours.

 The quality of the products is very good and that appeals to the budget customers as well as informed shoppers. The main pricing strategy in its marketing mix is to compete with its competitors and build a strong presence. They sale selected products at promotional prices which are generally $5-$10 less compared to the retail prices. Uniqlo also provide free shipping on all orders.

Uniqlo focuses on type of customer profile often purchasing from them and then producing multiple sizes and colors of single design rather than investing money on multiple design that follow seasonal trends.

The company believes in expansion plans and as such has to face competition from several rival brands. In order to increase its sales figures, it has adopted a penetration pricing policy. It has kept its product prices at par with the prices of its rival brands. As it offers better quality goods, it has managed to capture the mass consumer market with its reasonable product prices.

In order to increase its footfall, the company offers its products at discounted rates. This has resulted in an increase in sales figures and has ultimately led to greater revenues and high-profit margins.

UNIQLO PLACING / DISTRIBUTION STRATEGY

Uniqlo sells through its specialty stores in almost all major cities throughout the world. Apart from that it sells online through its own website. The company currently operates 1920 stores throughout the world.

Some of the countries of operation are Australia, Canada, China, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Macau, Indonesia, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Philippines, Russia, Singapore, Spain, Taiwan, Thailand, UK etc. Business Model - UNIQLO

  • Uniqlo have an Inventory control team that monitors the store stocks on a weekly basis and maintains the optimum level of inventory. At the end of the season they have a meeting with the Marketing department and do any inventory clearance sales necessary with promotional pricing.
  • The company has chosen central and highly visible locations for its flagship outlets that are maintained by well-trained employees. Uniqlo has a highly developed R&D department that keeps an expert eye on all its products and units.
  • Uniqlo runs through 2 marketing channels. The first one is where it sells directly to its customers through its online website, second is its retailer store that are located all around the world. Since it has a substantial amount of online sales with frequent traffic on its website, it runs its online operation through numerous partnered delivery services in order to deliver the product on time.
  • Uniqlo has a network of supplier over 500 that provide it with raw material needed for production, creating a close relationship with the supplier to work with them on innovation and ideas. Uniqlo has the policy of rapid expansion and plans and establishes a no. of retailing units all over the world, and mends its design and sales ad campaigns according to the demographic results analysed by the Uniqlo team annually.

UNIQLO PEOPLE STRATEGY

The brand’s target audience is people between the age of 18 and 40 which are called millennials. These men and women buy new cell phones every year, they keep track of new technologies, but they prefer a simple style when it comes to clothing and their everyday lives.

  1. No other brand was producing affordable clothing specifically for millennials. Uniqlo is partially clothes for geeks: because even for the simplest clothing, they use innovative technologies. Instead of wasting money on an army of designers, the brand hires scientists that develop ultra-light, thin, or warm fabrics.
  2. The brand relies on intelligent customers and makes money thanks to the people who want to be different from the “trendy masses.” This is another well-thought-out marketing strategy and it’s different from any other strategy we’ve heard of before.
  3. The assortment of their stores is different depending on the preferences of the country’s inhabitants.

In Uniqlo, there are a team of experts that analyze the purchases of people from different countries and they build a geographical marketing strategy. For example, in Asia, where the brand is from, people prefer bright clothes. And in European countries, people prefer something more plain. The color variety in the stores depends on the tastes of the customers in whatever country the store is in.

Size also matters. For example, the people from China and Japan almost never need XL and bigger sizes. But they produce clothes in bigger sizes for people from other countries.

The company certainly puts a lot of importance on customer experience. If you’ve been to a UNIQLO store, you’ve probably heard the infamous “Welcome to UNIQLO!” greeting and noticed that the retail experience is somewhat consistent regardless of the city or country you are in.

This is not by chance. There’s a carefully designed process behind this. To ensure that the retail experience stays consistent, staff undergo training from how they interact with shoppers to how they should return the credit cards to customers with both hands and full eye contact, as well as greeting all customers “Welcome to UNIQLO” as they enter the store.

UNIQLO PROCESS STRATEGY

Uniqlo always keeps a close on the whole process a garment goes through from sourcing of fabric to manufacturing and then retailing. It provides amazing services to the people. As Uniqlo believes in providing a full customer experience hence it provide ease and assistance on all the level.

  1. Marketing sustainability in a fast-fashion world. For UNIQLO, Life Wear = Sustainability
  2. UNIQLO introduced the concept of Life Wear clothing, which according to the company is reasonably priced clothing, designed for the long term. Through this philosophy, UNIQLO has attracted customers who advocate the use of responsible materials and manufacturing processes.
  3. The Life Wear concept symbolizes the company’s commitment to “achieving a sustainable society”, which certainly helps foster this connection with the customer who cares for the same cause.
  4. Monitoring Strategy Quality Control: In order to manage quality, UNIQLO dispatches Japanese experts to countries in which it has factories to monitor operations and assist management.
  • Product Development: At R&D offices In New York and Tokyo, UNIQLO gathers the latest information on trends and lifestyles in the world and improves upon and creates new products.
  • Distribution Control: UNIQLO manages the level of inventory by strictly checking the exchange rate to reduce the risk of inventory. Customer Hotline: The customer service office gets over 70,000 requests and suggestions per year, which helps UNIQLO to develop its products and services.

UNIQLO QUALITY CONTROL

Short, medium and long- term objectives of total revenue, market share and total customer purchases will be met by adhering to strict product and service standards, remaining true to the globally instilled brand image of being a desirable, stylish retailer enhanced by its celebrity models that offers innovative and functional clothing at an affordable price.

The traditional Japanese service model utilized worldwide in UNIQLO stores will remain an in- store focal point, and UNIQLO will follow its model of finding exclusive, central locations. A wide variety of media, both one- way and two- way, will be utilized to communicate with consumers and build and maintain relationships. In short, UNIQLO will follow its tried and true model of success to penetrate the Australian market and further its bid to become the world’s largest clothing retailer.

It is suggested that

UNIQLO consider the following recommendations throughout its expansion in Australia: 1. be careful so as to not over- expand and experience a repeat of the oversaturation, and subsequent steep decline in perception of brand value, that occurred in Japan.

 2. Pursue steady and achievable revenue and market share while establishing brand awareness, recognition and adoption during first several years. Then, begin a more aggressive strategy.

 3. Continue collaborating with big name designers to create special collections, such as German designer Jil Sanders +J collection, to allure high- involvement consumers and increase competitiveness.

ANALYSIS

Segmentation targeting and positioning in the Marketing strategy Uniqlo:

Segmentation:

It targets people from broad spectrum of young to middle age and hence creates design catering to them. The fashion is most often gender fluid but basic categories are men women and children

Target:

The main target market Uniqlo is the male and female adults that are ranging from the age 18 to 40 and are looking for affordable and high-quality clothing that fits their lifestyles. It targets the people who are looking for trendy clothes which are casual and laidback. Uniqlo apparels are not only limited to higher income people. The good quality and affordability indicate the good value for consumers. This strategy has broadened the target market because all the consumers are looking for quality clothes which are yet affordable.

Positioning:

Uniqlo has positioned itself as a modern Japanese company and aims to inspire people to dress casually. The brand has a “made for all” positioning strategy and is a brand that sells apparels that are essential, simple and helps wearers find their individualistic styles. Basically, if people are looking to find, good quality, trendy and affordable clothes, the destination is Uniqlo.

Mission: “Unlocking the Power of Clothing”. With a focus on products, supply chain, employees, stores and communities, we will change the world for the better through our business.

Tagline: Simple made better

Sustainability in focus:

Uniqlo has taken an initiative called “All-Product Recycling initiative” where the customers are encouraged to recycle the clothes and use them for textile industry material.

The brand with initiatives like this is trying to make a difference. With the sustainability campaign that says” give your clothes a new life”, the brand is struggling to reduce the environmental effect of its operations. It also promised to eradicate the use of all the dangerous chemicals by 2019.

  • Minimalism: The brand focuses on minimalism and that is one of the strongest points for the Uniqlo and this is a point of differentiation as well or the brand.The customers nowadays look for something that is positive to wear and that is not fussy. Uniqlo focuses on helping people express through emotion and considers it to be an art.
  • Brand strategy: Uniqlo focuses on the unique functional performance of the brand with a focus on the design and innovation of the apparel.  Uniqlo differentiates itself from its competitors by with its signature innovations like Life wear, Heattech, AIRism, etc.

The brand also gives the shoppers a superior shopping experience by impressive store management and design with positive employee culture and use of technology in-store that gives video tutorials describing the product designs.

  1. Product development approach and efficient supply chain:Tadashi Yanai is fond of saying that “Uniqlo is not a fashion company, it’s a technology company.” And indeed, the brand’s approach to making apparel has more in common with the iterative approach to product development embraced by the technology industry than the cyclical, trend-driven rhythm of the fast fashion retail industry
  2. Brand equity of Uniqlo:The brand promise of Uniqlo is to provide performance-enhanced, high quality, basic casual wear and at affordable prices. It also has a strong delivery system to ensure the brand promise stays strong.

Uniqlo is all about simplicity and that is reflected through the brand’s marketing initiatives, operations, and communication. The brand has grown from a single men’s tailoring shop to a global casual wear brand and is now one of the most impressive brands from Asia today. With the help of Uniqlo, the parent brand aims to hit a sale of $28 billion in sales by 2020.

3. Competitive analysis of Uniqlo: Under fast fashion products, under the global ranking, Uniqlo comes third in ranking and it is just below Spain’s ZARA and Sweden’s H&M.

The quick growth of Uniqlo enabled it to overcome America’s Gap which was one of the dominant basic wear. Uniqlo still needs to focus on innovation, style, and quality ensure that it reaches its ambitious goal of being the world largest fast fashion retailer.

Outside Asia, brand awareness and the footprint is relatively low compared to other brands and thus needs to tackle this through global expansion programs, marketing, and advertising. Uniqlo is still behind Zara and H&M, however, in the recent quarter, the sales grew 31.4% in the same period compared to last year.

Customer analysis :

  • The basic strategy behind Uniqlo is mass appeal. The customer ranges from any economic background and demographic and across all the ages. The brand does not encourage customers to have one look, and the products are rarely patterned. The sizes are very inclusive, ranging from 3XL for men and XXL for women.
  • The clothes are straight forwards and also open for interpretation. The brand looks towards having emotional bonds with the customers. Uniqlo seeks to create a benchmark in the multi-cultural society and takes efforts to understand its customers.
  • Initially, the brand faced issues while expanding in Europe and the United States because the customer requirements and lifestyle are different. Uniqlo now is a choice of brand when people look for basics.

RECOMMENDATIONS IN UNIQLO MARKETING MIX

PRODUCT

  • To attract more long-term customer, Uniqlo might provide with warranties credits, delivery, after sales services. Should improves its products packaging such that it is more convenient to transport and use. Visually appealing.
  • Should make more products that are size fluid and working on its casual line of products making it actually all inclusive and not only ethnic based but also but type suitable.
  • Also work on products that are sustainable and promotes zero wastage and ecofriendly.
  • Can also monitor the disposal of the product after usage, can ask customer to return after use and gain some points of credits etc.

PRICES

  • Work on more products like HEATTECH at cheaper prices.
  • Should introduce discounts and allowances, where it lowers the prices for a short period of time in order to attract customers and gain market share.
  • Introduction of price penetration strategy where it offers an initial lower price than competitors to gain market share.

PLACES

  • Promotion of social media presence and taking affairs online, since in current situation where everything is majorly done on online interface more people are spending time on websites than in retail store hence creating an impression in their minds in a subtle way.
  • Work on efficient and fast delivery system, catering to customer’s satisfaction levels.
  • Continue the intense level of expansion of outlets, keeping mind the quality level.

PROMOTION

  • Might hire a social media expert / manager so as to keep track and active promotion through social media. Much more interaction with influencers.
  • Keep an updated social media platform and keep sharing the current sales and customer reviews to create a sense of familiarity.

PEOPLE

  • Providing and incentive to the sale force and customer services and purchasing people through commissions for the sales made.
  • Hire people with good customer values and dedication towards the company

CONCLUSION

UNIQLO understands that its product is one of the most powerful marketing tools for its brand. The company puts a lot of emphasis on delivering great customer experience and communicating on causes that their customers care about. The company is also embracing e-commerce to further boost awareness and purchases, and it is always looking for opportunities to reach more people through collaborations with key personalities and designers globally.

On top of the above marketing strategies UNIQLO is practicing, there’s one more winning formula that is hard to miss: the brand understands the power of digital marketing, which is reflected in how they use content and social media.

From the stories behind the products to the influencers the brands work with, all the way to localized social media content – this is a brand that has a clear brand story and makes sure that their content communicates exactly what their brand values and purpose, which ultimately helps them connect with the audience better.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

  1. Kyogoku Says Uniqlo Focused On Quality to Boost Sales [Video file]. Retrieved from: City of Melbourne. (2010). Student and Education Profile of Melbourne Local Government Area. Retrieved from: Dickie, M. (2010, October 20). Fast Retailing sees quality as a good fit for Uniqlo. The Financial Times, p16. Edmundson, D. (2010, July 5). UNIQLO s six Phrase In- store Strategy. Psfk. Retrieved from six- phrase- in- store- strategy.html Fast Retailing Co., Ltd. (2012). UNIQLO Business Model. Retrieved From Fast Retailing Co., Ltd. (2012) UNIQLO Business Strategy. Retrieved from: Golden Fleeces. (2012, March 24). Golden Fleeces: Zara s Japanese rival gears itself to conquer China. The Economist. Retrieved from: IBISWorld. (2011, March). Clothing Retailing in Australia (G5221). 
  2. https://www.uniqlo.com/in/
  3. https://brandequity.economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/business-of-brands/how-uniqlo-plans-to-approach-the-indian-market-as-it-readies-to-open-its-first-store/71169078
  4. Uniqlo%20Marketing%20Mix%20(4Ps)%20Strategy%20_%20MBA%20Skool-Study.Learn.Share.html.com
  5. https://www.indiaretailing.com/2019/11/29/fashion/decoding-uniqlos-strategy-for-the-indian-market/
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Uniqlo

About the Author

Harshit Prajapati
(@hahahahahaharshit, @prajarty),
Bachelor of Design,
National Institute of Fashion Technology

 

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