The Swedish brand, Hennes and Mauritz has expanded in recent times, currently having more than 2200 stores all over the world. The affordable, fast-fashion store was opened by a Swedish lady, Erling Persson in 1947. From selling only women’s clothes,the chain now has a men’s, kid’s and even a home department. From 2005 to 2010 the Company’s profit has increased by more than 100%. It has also successfully invaded a problematic market, the Japan clothing market. Now, we are going to have a look at what they have done.
The market in Europe has already been full and stagnating, so H&M had to look out for other possibilities. Thus, they turned towards Asia. First, they made their way into China, and then they have turned to Japan. The Company’s first store was opened in Tokyo, in 2008. Since then, 9 other shops had been opened. The competition in Japan includes the European Zara and the popular local chain Uniqlo. Japanese people are really fashion-sensitive, and represent a strong buying power since Japan’s economy is the third largest one in the Earth.
‘It has been H&M’s dream to open in Japan. I am very proud to say that we now have our very first store in Tokyo. Japan is a very strategic and exciting market with great fashion awareness. We hope that we can offer our Tokyo customers added value through fashion and quality at the best price. We’re not in a hurry in Japan but we see huge potential if we succeed. We’ll go step by step.”
– Rolf Eriksen, CEO of H&M
Culture in Japan
Japanese tends to fall in love with everything which has a label ‘made in Europe’. The individual appearance and the fast adaption of fashion changes are key properties of a Japanese fashionista. Although, the Japanese culture is traditionally collectivist, the individual outlook and style has a very important role.
Shoppers are well-informed about the latest European trends and spend most of their incomes in clothing items. Even, when H&M entered the market during an economic downturn in Japan, the Company still generated a shopping spree and post up a reasonable profit.
The integration of the local stuff was also a key point, since H&M emphasizes the importance of consumer satisfaction. The staffs’ trainings were held in groups ‘ to make collectivist Japanese rely on each other.
Before the first store was opened, the Company had started massive advertising campaign trough ladies’ magazines. Thus, consumers were waiting for the store to pop up, and on the first day of the opening more that 8000 people showed up.
The shops are always located in busy commercial areas, throughout the biggest cities of Japan.
Even though the crises were hitting on Japan, H&M took the chance and successfully entered the market, providing a ‘western brand’ for the consumers and using up Japanese buying power.
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