UNIQUE CLOTHING for all: Here’s how this brand is dominating the fast fashion industry! [Tuesdays: Return Driven Strategy]
Miles Everson’s Business Builder Daily speaks to the heart of what great marketers, business leaders, and other professionals need to succeed in advertising, communications, managing their investments, career strategy, and more.
A Note from Miles Everson:
Return Driven Strategy (RDS).
Explained in the book, “Driven,” this pyramid-shaped framework has 11 tenets and 3 foundations. These principles help businesses to effectively implement their branding and marketing strategies.
You might want to read about RDS during your spare time too. This framework offers lots of insights that will guide you towards success.
Today, let’s focus on a case study relevant to RDS’ Tenet 5 (Innovate Offerings) and 6 (Brand offerings).
Keep reading to know how this company was able to capture its share in the fast fashion industry through its vertical integration technique and technological advancements.
CEO, MBO Partners
Chairman of the Advisory Board, The I Institute
Return Driven Strategy
Have you ever been to a Uniqlo store? If so, what did you first notice about the place?
In recent years, Uniqlo has been capturing its share in people’s wardrobes along with other fast fashion industry giants like Zara, H&M, GAP, and more. One of the reasons for this is the company provides high-quality, private-label casual wear at affordable prices.
Photo from WWD
Uniqlo’s journey began when its president, Tadashi Yanai, inherited his father’s chain of 22 men’s tailoring stores in 1972. Inspired by American and European casual wear brands like GAP and Benetton, Yanai identified the potential to build a similar market in Japan.
In 1984, he opened his first store—the Unique Clothing Warehouse in Hiroshima, which was later renamed as Uniqlo.
Today, the company is known for its simplicity and quality, and has over 3,000 stores worldwide. The brand has always delivered on its promise of timeless and affordable clothing for ALL in an industry dominated by constantly changing trends.
So, how did Uniqlo find its niche in the fast fashion world?
In this article, we’ll explain 3 things that make the brand stand out from its competitors:
- Vertical Integration Strategy
Have you ever wondered how Uniqlo is able to offer such affordable prices while maintaining the quality of their products?
The secret lies in its vertical integration strategy.
According to financial media website Investopedia, vertical integration strategy refers to when a company owns or controls its suppliers, distributors, or retail locations to manage its entire supply chain. This benefits businesses by allowing them to control processes, reduce costs, and improve efficiencies.
By owning and operating its own factories, Uniqlo has complete control over its production process and is able to quickly respond to changing fashion trends.
As a result, the brand is able to gain a competitive edge and become set apart from other fashion retailers.
- Technological Advancements
According to Yanai:
“Uniqlo is not a fashion company, it is a technology company.”
… and that resonates with every product launch. Uniqlo’s unique selling proposition (USP) lies in leveraging technology at all levels.
In fact, the company has implemented radio frequency identification (RFID) technology in its stores, allowing for more efficient inventory management and faster checkout.
There’s also an online app where customers can purchase products and have them delivered to their homes.Through this digital effort, Uniqlo aims to capture a larger market and bring more traffic to its website.
Each Uniqlo store is designed with a digital customer-first approach. Every store is an experiential zone, inviting consumers to explore and learn about the technology behind the fabrics.
The huge LED screens, inviting interiors, bright lighting, and friendly store managers also create a holistic and immersive experience to ensure customers come back to make repeat purchases.
- Constant Innovation
Uniqlo’s success story doesn’t stop with the points mentioned above. Another reason for its success is constant innovation. The company has been experimenting with new materials such as heat-retaining, moisture-wicking, and UV-protecting fabrics, making clothes not only fashionable but also functional.
- HeatTech fabrics that keep people warm
- AIRism clothing that is breathable and soft
- UV Protection clothing that blocks UV rays from penetrating the skin
LifeWear is also on the path to redefine comfort clothing and casual wear. Branding these innovations gives the fashion retailer a unique edge against its competitors.
Additionally, Uniqlo has invested in sustainable practices, such as using recycled materials in its fabrics and reducing water and energy consumption in its manufacturing processes. This not only helps protect the environment but also appeals to customers who are becoming increasingly conscious of the impact of their purchasing decisions.
Uniqlo’s Business Strategies As Seen in Return Driven Strategy’s (RDS) Tenet 5 and 6
RDS’ fifth tenet is about innovating offerings and the sixth tenet is about branding offerings. Professor Joel Litman and Dr. Mark L. Frigo discuss these principles in detail in the book, “Driven.”
How do these tenets apply to Uniqlo’s case?
Tenet 5: Innovate Offerings – By understanding its target market’s needs for comfortable and quality clothing at all times, Uniqlo is able to constantly innovate its product lines. Unlike other fashion brands that sell trend-based products, Uniqlo specializes in selling season-proof basics.
Because of this, the brand is able to stabilize the buying cycle of its customers and deliver on its promise of sustainable clothing.
Tenet 6: Brand Offerings – According to Professor Litman and Dr. Frigo, branding can only occur in the minds of consumers. This means anything that impacts customers’ views on an offering is branding that offering.
Let’s use that in the context of Uniqlo: What first comes to your mind when you see, hear, or think about the company?
Pastels and neutrals?
Comfortable work wear?
Uniqlo’s branding is heavily focused on simplicity and functionality. The company positions itself as a “LifeWear” brand, with the goal of creating clothing that is comfortable, durable, easy to mix and match, and versatile enough to be worn in any occasion.
This branding creates a sense of excitement around the company name, appealing to customers with different tastes and styles.
We hope you learned lots of return-driven insights from today’s topic!
Uniqlo’s approach to the fast fashion industry is TRULY IMPRESSIVE!
By controlling its business processes, leveraging technology to improve operations and customer experiences, and investing in sustainable practices and materials, the company is able to offer high-quality, affordable, and sustainable products that appeal to customers.
… and that’s a winning formula that you or any other retailer, business owner, leader, and marketer should take note of.
If you’re looking to gain a better understanding of branding and Return Driven Strategy, we highly recommend checking out “Driven” by Professor Litman and Dr. Frigo.
Click here to get your copy and learn how proper branding can build an indelible connection in the minds of customers between their explicitly understood need and the offering that uniquely fulfills that need.
(This article is from The Business Builder Daily, a newsletter by The I Institute in collaboration with MBO Partners.)
About The Dynamic Marketing Communiqué’s
“Tuesdays: Return Driven Strategy”
In the book, “Driven,” authors Professor Joel Litman and Dr. Mark L. Frigo said that the goal of every long-term successful business strategy should incorporate the combined necessity of “making the world a better place” and “getting wealthy.”
That is why they created Return Driven Strategy and Career Driven Strategy―frameworks that were built to help leaders and professionals plan and evaluate businesses so they can also help others achieve their organizational goals and career goals.
The frameworks describe the plans and actions that drive returns for anyone in an organization such as independent contractors, marketers, brand managers, communicators, and other people in any field. These actions lead to the creation of wealth and value for customers, employees, shareholders, and the society.
Every Tuesday, we’ll highlight case studies, business strategies, tips, and insights related to Return Driven Strategy and Career Driven Strategy.
In planning, building, or managing brands and businesses, these strategies, case studies, and guidelines will help you choose what specific actions to take and when to take them.
Hope you found this week’s insights interesting and helpful.
Stay tuned for next Tuesday’s “Return Driven Strategy!”
Head of Marketing
Valens Dynamic Marketing Capabilities
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