Muji has been my favorite brand since childhood up to date. Also, it was my brand when I was in China, and it is also one of the hottest entry lux, not only in China but also all over the world. The success of this brand is, however, based on various vital strategies put forth by the company producing the product. The case stud, therefore, explores the reasons for the success of this product as well lesson that can be learned from the victory.
Mujirushi Ryohin, (translate as No Brand Quality Goods on Muji’s European website) was founded in December 1980 as a product brand of the supermarket chain, The Seiyu. It started with only 40 items (9 household items and 31 food products), but today, it is a full-blown home and lifestyle brand with over 7000 items ranging from clothing to furniture, and 700 stores worldwide. The sales in the 2010 fiscal year ranked at sixty-eight place in Japanese retailer market. The brand is doing great in the business industry.
What gives MUJI an edge
Owning and maintaining its ‘no brand’ brand’s philosophy
When MUJI was launched, the brand concept was supported by the phrase ‘Lower price for a reason. At that time, Muji sought comments from their consumers concerning the prices of commodities offered and inquired whether the prices were favorable to the consumers. Their productions are based on quality and affordable prices, just as its name suggests (Dawson and Masao 7). Their products may be found in art museum gift shops, but they are also sold in convenience stores in Japan. Rather than being on trend, they want their products to stand the test of time. The president of Muji USA, Asako Shimazaki, said they want to “fix problems that arise daily” whether it’s through bringing order to messy homes with storage equipment or by making socks knit at a 90-degree angle so that they do not slip off people’s feet.
MUJI’s philosophy never changed. In today’s market, people prefer purchasing practical items with proper money and high quality instead of flashy productions, (Anabel). MUJI products are what people want to use. Furthermore, the company owns its attitude, sticks to its value, and never go against its role as stipulated in the object clause of a memorandum of association.
Problems Faced by the Muji during Expansion to the International market
Muji was a relatively small retail shop at the time of its initial international venture but was successful in growing incrementally on a world scale. The rich experience in the world market helped the organization to expand its operations to fit a more significant global market to make more profit. For example, the first international store was located in the UK in 1991, an international joint venture. However, in the UK, Muji had a deft because it suffered a slow decision-making process in a joint venture with Liberty Plc. In the end, it was forced to dissolve the relation. Another problem experienced during expansion was MUJI’s traditional Japanese aesthetic was hard for non-Japanese to understand, especially in the European market. As a result, people could not enjoy MUJI’s productions because of it’s uncreative and changeless. However, the brand learned a lot from these failure elements.
MUJI started to cooperate with a Japanese firm Yohio, which was headed by a famous designer. The alliance assisted MUJI to refresh its partner-making method. MUJI also held a project ‘Wold Muji’ in 2013. Under this project, Muji created their productions with prestigious designers like Enzo Mari of Italy, Sam Hecht of UK, and Constantin of Germany. The designers provided MUJI with more acknowledge to create sophisticated products and also assisted the company with enhancing its brand recognition.
Ryohin Keikaku said that the company had no clear strategy or standards for expansion; therefore, they looked for urban shopping areas that appeared to be full of people who were likely to buy Muji products. The educated guesses proved fruitful, and advancement is paving the way for further growth in Europe several years later.’
MUJI is a unique retailer that was launched as a private label and has evolved into a corporate brand via a store brand. The Japanese retailer has built and maintained considerable brand awareness through their company, and its unique concept give it opportunities for making inroads into a broader market. Additionally, the current global market expands no longer by just replicating the homeland operations. Also, Muji’s international activities began as an adventure with no precise strategy. Currently, it has learned a lot from past failure and got rich experience to build a more stable global brand around the world. In spotting new opportunities and finding ways to grow while keeping to its brand values, Muji has shown that for a brand with ‘no-brand,’ they have a pretty strong one indeed.
Anabelle (2017). The Success of a ‘No Brand’ Brand: A Muji Case Study. https://medium.com/@BelleinBlackandWhite/the-success-of-a-no-brand-brand-a-muji-ca se-study-1ccff4020f72
Dawson, John, and Masao Mukoyama, eds. Global strategies in retailing: Asian and European experiences. Routledge, 2013. https://books.google.com/books?id=ofZEAQAAQBAJ&pg=PA161&lpg=PA 161&dq=muji+international&source=bl&ots=dY3Gqdpp1Q&sig=ACfU3U0I7mw20XIX cO4uxLTvohqlGzIheQ&hl=en&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwihoJKXtfHgAhV3HDQIHTYBD bo4ChDoATAFegQICRAB#v=onepage&q=muji%20international &f=false)