Uniqlo thrives on digital marketing

Tessa Thorniley

For more than a decade, Uniqlo has been exporting its brand of Japanese low-cost, quality casualwear around the world. Tessa Thorniley describes how the retailer has become an apparel empire by appealing to a multicultural set of consumers without losing its ‘Japaneseness’

As Tadashi Yanai, the chain's founder and one of Japan's most dynamic businessmen, said in a recent interview: ‘We really have to transform this company to be successful and compete. Before, we manufactured in China and sold in Japan. Now we need to manufacture in the world and sell to the world.’

The transition to international brand partly reflects the need to compete with larger rivals Inditex of Spain (owner of Zara) and Sweden's Hennes & Mauritz (H&M). It is also required to offset slowing sales in its domestic market. The shift has prompted a significant change in Uniqlo culture from within the company and externally in its marketing to the outside world.