The epidemic has not dissipated around the world, and the uncertainty about the future has made consumers in many parts of the world more cautious about fashion consumption, especially when purchasing clothing.
At the beginning of 2021, the Japanese media paid close attention to Tadashi Yanai, the head of fast fashion giant Uniqlo and its parent company Fast Retailing. Yanai) conducted an interview and conducted an in-depth discussion around keywords such as the consumer environment, consumer psychology, and digital transformation in 2021.
Masa Yanai said: With the trend of accelerating integration of online and offline, he hopes that the products provided by Uniqlo can be sold regardless of whether consumers are in the store or not. He emphasized that truly excellent products must contain an aesthetic. This applies not only to clothing, but to all products.
“The products we provide can be sold whether consumers come to the store or not”
Since the outbreak of the epidemic, many brands in the fashion industry have faced problems such as reduced demand, factory shutdowns, shortened store operating hours or even suspension of operations. Many fashion retailers have announced that they have filed for bankruptcy protection, including J.C. Penney, a well-established American department store, and American Fashion Group. J.Crew and Japanese apparel group Renown, among others.
Uniqlo is no exception. When the epidemic in China was at its worst, the brand closed 390 stores. However, its focus on daily practicality, high quality and low price has avoided large-scale inventory price cuts. Some spring clothing will also be postponed to autumn. Compared with most retailers in the world, UNIQLO has better withstood the adverse effects of the epidemic. .
In this interview, Yanai Tadashi emphasized: “The physical retail industry will not die. Even if consumers’ address, phone number and other information can be obtained online, it is still impossible to Know what he/she really looks like. The customer’s reaction in the store and their thoughts on the product are very important. These can only be asked on the spot. Internet companies want to obtain the business information of physical stores, so many are acquiring and operating physical stores. The retail business of the store.”
Masa Yanai took the American retail giant Wal-Mart as an example, “A key to Wal-Mart’s resurrection is to connect online and offline, that is, to realize the physical, Online is just as important. For consumers, it is best to be able to use both physical stores and virtual ones. Today’s consumers believe that there is no difference between shopping in physical stores and online. In the future, consumers They may browse clothes and communicate with store staff through the Internet. We hope that the products we provide can be sold whether consumers come to the store or not.”
“Operating physical clothing retail business , you must have aesthetic and professional knowledge of clothing. Talents who can quickly understand fashion trends and know how to match them are indispensable. Without professional knowledge, they will become ordinary consumables. A truly excellent product must contain an aesthetic . This applies not only to clothing, but also to all products. Apple mobile phones are best-selling around the world because of their aesthetics,” said Yanai Masaru.
From Uniqlo’s series of actions in 2020, we can see Yanai’s persistence in the physical retail industry. In the first half of 2020, Uniqlo opened three “amazing” heavyweight stores in Yokohama, Tokyo, Ginza and Harajuku, Japan. The combined retail area of the three stores is approximately 11,000 square meters.
As of December 31, 2020, UNIQLO has 2,306 stores around the world. The group hopes that by the fiscal year ending in August 2021, the total number of UNIQLO stores worldwide will reach 2,371. “The final form of future stores will probably be that customers can connect to the store digitally. For example, they can see the appearance of the store and sales staff through a tablet at home, and they can also confirm the appearance and product information of the goods through a mobile device. You can get it when you go to the store,” Masa Yanai revealed.
“Make the best daily attire, suitable for work and home”
The impact of the epidemic on income The impact has made consumers become more frugal, Yanai Masaru said: “As consumers become more frugal, the importance of brand and product quality has become increasingly prominent. Consumers will choose high-quality and reliable brands. At the same time, due to the demand for casual wear and the growth of remote work, the days of wearing formal attire are gone forever, and the era of everyday wear has officially arrived. We want to make the best everyday wear, so people will choose something that is suitable for both work and home, is durable and can be matched in a variety of ways Clothes. Clothes that are worn and thrown away after one year are no longer needed.”
In the latest joint series with German designer Jil Sander, the concept of “daily wear” is also emphasized. A scene. In the new +J series, Jil Sander uses minimalist lines to outline a flowing and three-dimensional engineering silhouette. It uses high-quality fabrics such as high-performance fabrics, high-grade cashmere, and worsted merino to design linings, pockets, zippers, and contrasting linings. Every detail has been cleverly processed, and the minimalist design is used to create a classic item for people’s daily wear.
“Uniqlo’s goal is to provide the ‘best daily wear’ regardless of age and gender. In 2020, the +J series, which will be released again after many years, has a good According to market feedback, many people said that the clothing is very complete. This includes the designer himself.For the efforts made by UNIQLO, the distribution, transportation and production links that UNIQLO is responsible for are also indispensable. The +J series is a typical case where we collect and organize information to produce, sell, and interact with customers to form a closed loop,” Tadashi Yanai said.
According to Tadashi Yanai, UNIQLO will independently collect and organize information , designs and produces goods, then distributes them to stores or sells them online, and collects customer information to produce goods based on this, forming a closed loop.
In the summer of 2020, “due to “Having received many requests from consumers,” Uniqlo used breathable and sweat-wicking underwear fabric AIRism to produce masks that are more suitable for summer temperatures. Since then, the company has also launched “loose home pants” specially designed to meet home needs.
“I deeply feel that the boundaries between various industries, including retail, manufacturing, logistics, etc., are disappearing. All industries have become information service industries, and routine business only needs to be handed over to AI and robots,” Tadashi Yanai lamented, “but the key part still requires people! “
More than 20 years ago, Yanai Masaru tried to change the way vegetables are sold, “but failed.” Starting from transportation alone cannot fundamentally change agriculture; we must go deep into the production link. I also learned my limits through this, and then I specialized in clothing. Cooperate with Chinese factory operators and work together to grow. At first, I often messed up the front and back of the fabric and the position of the pockets, which was a headache. With the support of our partners, we have thoroughly implemented Japanese technology, factory management methods, and the concept of high-quality products. “
“China and Southeast Asia markets will lead the recovery”
“China and Southeast Asia markets will lead the recovery Recovery drives consumer spending, but the epidemic infection situation varies across countries. For example, consumer spending in Asian countries with severe infections, such as Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines, has stagnated, but in places like Taiwan and Vietnam, where the virus has been brought under control, consumption is recovering. Unless the number of infections stops growing, consumption recovery will remain difficult. “
In countries where the epidemic has not yet been brought under control, the number of people who are unemployed, on vacation, and have to be quarantined at home continues to grow. Yanai Masaru pointed out: “People are anxious about the future, so we are also Start with their anxieties. Consumers today are very price sensitive, much more so than after the 2011 financial crisis. We cannot raise prices under such circumstances. If we raise the price of ordinary goods, they will not be sold at all. ”
“In Japan, the third wave of the epidemic has had a huge impact on sales, especially weekend sales, which will fall sharply because people will avoid going out during holidays. But people still shop near where they live. Uniqlo’s stores in big city centers are not performing well, but business is booming in suburbs,” added Tadashi Yanai.
“In 2021 and beyond, as expected, Asia will Be the center of the world. Formal attire originated in Europe. On the other hand, due to various factors, emerging markets in Asia have become more accepting of wearing casual attire every day. We want to be a global brand and the first and best apparel brand to start in Asia. ”