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  • Subject area(s): Marketing
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  • Published on: 14th September 2019
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Uniqlo is an internationally well-renowned clothing apparel company, which first opened its doors in June 1984. It is owned by the parent company, Fast Retailing Co. Ltd. Uniqlo has been (and continues to be) known for their high-quality wear at significantly affordable prices for men, women, and kids. Uniqlo provides a very wide range of clothing ranging from denim products, T-Shirts, pants, and other specialty products unique to Uniqlo (Fast Retailing, 2017). As of February 28, 2018, Uniqlo currently has the second highest market capitalization amongst other worldwide fast-fashion companies (Fast Retailing, 2018). Uniqlo has also expanded its business internationally, it is reported to have 1920 Uniqlo stores operating worldwide; having 47 outlets located across Malaysia. Uniqlo employs the “SPA” manufacturer model which involves Uniqlo controlling the entire process of the creating their clothes from the production and planning of the products to the marketing of the product. The focus of this group assignment is to understand Uniqlo's marketing strategy and observe how marketing concepts and theories are put into practice. Not to mention, this group assignment will critically evaluate Uniqlo's marketing strategy at the product level where we will be assessing what marketing concepts have they applied to their products.

We will first be discussing about Uniqlo's target market. Target market is a group of consumers which the company would want to sell its products and services to. Target market can be segmented to different segments such as geographic, demographic, psychographic and behavioral. This process of segmenting the market is called market segmentation. Firstly, geographic segmentation is the process of dividing the market based on different geographical units such as regions, nations, states, municipalities, cities or neighborhoods. Next, demographic segmentation involves dividing the market into groups based on variables such as gender, age, family size. Thirdly, psychographic segmentation is the segmentation that is based on psychological/personality traits, lifestyle or values. Lastly, behavioral segmentation divides the buyers into groups based on their knowledge of the product, attitude towards it and the way they respond to the product.

     Uniqlo follows strongly to their philosophy “Made for all” where they plan to make clothes which are of high-quality and affordable to everyone (Fast Retailing, 2017). Although they did not specify their target segments they are targeting at, we still can identify their target markets. Figure 1 shows 3 main segments for which Uniqlo target's its products to. For the first segment, Uniqlo markets its products to teenagers or even adults who are interested in fashion by collaborating with well known fashion designers. For example, Uniqlo has collaborated with well-renowned British fashion label JW Anderson during fall of 2017. They worked on a capsule collection which included contemporary, basic, comfortable garments which fits Uniqlo's clothing style. This collaboration has been proven successful as Uniqlo enjoyed good responses across the world (Conti, 2017). Hence, Uniqlo has collaborated with many other fashion designers which includes many different type of themes. To give an example, Uniqlo has collaborated with KAWS where they produced clothing that fit the current growing streetwear fashion trend.

The second segment shows that Uniqlo caters for consumers of different climates. Uniqlo is also very famous for their functional clothing products known as HEATTECH, AIRism and Blocktech. These products are known for their high-quality, functional yet affordable characteristics. HEATTECH is Uniqlo's own innovation in clothing where HEATTECH has the capabilities of keeping one warm from the cold climate but still be very light and thin. AIRism and Blocktech are also new technological innovations created by Uniqlo where AIRism clothes have the functions of soaking up sweat and keeping cool whereas Blocktech clothes has the abilities to block out rain and wind. These products are offered to everyone of all ages and sizes.

Lastly, the third segment illustrates the core business model of Uniqlo. Uniqlo has explicitly explained that it wants to be a “borderless” apparel brand. As Tadashi Yanai elaborated to Today Online, founder and president of Fast Retailing which owns Uniqlo said, “The same clothes can be worn by fashion-forward people or office ladies or housewives. They can be worn by someone in Paris or in Tokyo”. This statement  illustrates that Uniqlo has a vision of making clothes that anyone of any income can afford to wear. Uniqlo has a wide range of products for which accommodate consumers of all kinds. From clothes for babies to clothes for plus size men and women, Uniqlo offers diversity in their products.

The perceptual map is mainly based on four attributes, the most important being price: cheap or expensive. Fashion companies are also based on two other attributes based on their focus on whether to be minimalistic or follow new trends. Ten competitor companies are seen on the map, showing how widespread the fashion industry is.

The three biggest rivals for Uniqlo are H&M, Old Navy and Gap (Uniqlo Competitors) . Uniqlo does well in an area which no other company decided to venture in. It keeps a low price while offering quality minimalistic clothes. While other brands are also competitors as they are in the fashion industry, they are not direct competitors as they have a different market of consumers. Versace and Gucci are an example of a niche consumer market, that is expensive and highly trendy. While Jil Sander has minimalism as a business strategy like Uniqlo but they are far too expensive to be Uniqlo's direct competitor. Calvin Klein has managed to be minimalistic while also being a fashion icon among youngsters with higher price tags. Zara which is the leading fast-fashion company compared to Uniqlo often has a much different strategy, which is producing a limited number of current trend clothes which is also used by H&M and Old Navy (Larke, 2015) . As for Brands Outlet and FOS, they are minimalistic brands that offer the cheapest price while compromising the quality of their products. Gap is the biggest competitor and an influencer to Uniqlo, as they offer the same minimalistic designs but for a slightly higher price due to the exceptional quality of their products.

Uniqlo is a brand that is made for all, it has done what other companies couldn't do. It is right in the area where other companies neglected that is offering cheap minimalistic fashion by mass producing basics. Simplicity is the key to their business. Uniqlo doesn't hop into the latest trends like other fast fashion brands as they believe in keeping it simple for their consumers by offering a variety of colours for basic clothes. The brands has an image of being technologically innovative company rather than fast fashion. All these offerings have made them stand out and differentiate themselves from other fast fashion brands.

 First attribute that sets them apart from others is their variety of basics. UNIQLO offers all types of basics, but still keeps it trendy by offering variety of colours (Fast Retailing, 2017). This key element is seen throughout their store as they segregate clothes by colour. This makes it easier for consumers to navigate through the store especially if they are looking for a specific colour. No other fast fashion brand has racked up their store based on colour of the clothes the way UNIQLO has.

  On top of keeping it simple, they offer products of great quality such as the SUPIMA Cotton which is the finest cotton in the world and no other fast-fashion brand has offered before (Larke, 2015). SUPIMA cotton is twice as finer as normal cotton while also being softer feeling. It also is able to absorb dye better than other kinds of cotton, meaning a higher variety and a longer usage life of products compared to others.

The third attribute UNIQLO offers is having innovative clothing. This includes their signature innovations such as AIRISM and HEATTECH series. Under the AIRISM line which caters to hot climates like the one in Malaysia, is made from an advanced fabric named CUPRO (Larke, 2015). This fabric allows absorption and release of moisture to keep the body cool and clothes dry. They only offer inner wear for the time being but are slowly expanding this innovation to other clothings. Their stretch pants for example are also using the same technology and has been quite popular. AIRISM series has received an 98.7% approval rating from it's consumers (Fast Retailing, 2017). Their most famous series is the HEATTECH which has given them a huge bump in sales while gaining them the right type of recognition. This line which spreads through multiple clothings, including inner wear, leggings, tights and jeans. Using curated hollow fibers and milk protein they manage to make their products absorb moisture while feeling soft to touch. This is suitable for cool climates as it is 100 times better at keeping a person warm compared to regular cotton (Fast Retailing, 2017). The offer this in 3 variations, named original , extra warm and ultra warm. This line has contributed a significant amount to their sales and that's the reason they heavily market it (Takada & Huang, 2017).

All these attributes have given UNIQLO an edge and bragging rights with their innovative clothing which is the reason they have grown so much in such a short time. These attributes has given UNIQLO their differentiation factor that every fashion brand is trying to achieve.

The marketing mix is about putting the right product in the right place at the right time, and at the right price. Therefore, it is often known as the ‘4P's' – product, price, place and promotion. These are the major factors that organisations focus on to maximise profits and attain success from their target market.

Product

Over the years, Uniqlo has decided to focus on their core products such as HEATTECH and Premium Down Ultra-Light jackets. They now offer a wide range of colours, sizes and designs so they are able to meet the needs of all types of consumers. Uniqlo has become so well known for their winter items that, in order to meet demands, they have prioritised the sale of HEATTECH by extending its product line from innerwear to tights and jeans.

Price

The foundation of Uniqlo's pricing strategy is based on the brand offering good quality at affordable prices. In order to keep prices affordable, Uniqlo produces by mass in factories across Asia. Uniqlo further enforces their products' affordability and appeal by lowering their prices even more at the end of each season, such as by selling two shirts for the price of one. Their prices, though affordable, are dependent on features of the product such as materials.

Place

Although Uniqlo originated in Japan, they have rapidly and greatly expanded into a global brand. By the end of August 2017, Uniqlo had 1,920 stores worldwide, including both Uniqlo Japan and Uniqlo International. Not only do they operate within malls across various cities such as Shanghai, Berlin, London and Tokyo, but in some cities, they have their own buildings; the largest Uniqlo store is in Ginza, Tokyo, consisting of 12 floors. In Malaysia itself, Uniqlo operates 48 stores. This makes their products easily accessible to their target market, thus maximising sales and promotion opportunities, and potentially increasing market share.

Promotion

Uniqlo aggressively markets their products to increase its brand awareness globally. They advertise in various forms of media, including newspapers, magazines, billboards and television. They have also acknowledged the strong influence of social media on consumers and taken advantage of this by sending emails to their regular customers regarding new deals and products in efforts to maintain customer loyalty, and have set up their own website, as well as their own Facebook, Instagram and Twitter accounts to garner brand visibility.

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