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For Uniqlo, the product is the hero and its performance is the core

Japanese fashion apparel retailer's Marketing Head Shantanu reveals the brand's growth plans for India as it gears up for the launch of its third store in Delhi-NCR


Ensuring that it offers the best through its brand philosophy and product offerings, Shantanu, Marketing Head at Uniqlo, said business is on track at its two stores in Delhi.

Japanese fashion apparel retailer Uniqlo, which entered the Indian market with two stores this October, will soon open the third in Delhi.

As the brand focuses on expanding its brick and mortar retail footprints in India, it is temporarily staying away from India’s rapidly growing e-commerce industry.

Uniqlo’s Shantanu told BestMediaInfo.com that the company wants to expand both offline and online. However, he said, there’s a need to control customer experience as the consumer should first experience authentic brand philosophy.

“And that is the reason why primarily we are not available in anybody else's store or site,” he said.

Shantanu, however, it is temporary and in the long run, the brand will be available on e-commerce platforms also.  “That eventually will happen,” he added.

The brand is further working aggressively on ensuring a great customer experience at the store. Treating the concept of store as the part of its own community, he said the brand runs ‘The good neighbourhood guide’, highlighting the hidden gems of local neighbourhoods that have the same values of high-quality customer empathy, to get broader visibility for customers.

He said the brand is open to all the marketing channels as long as it reaches the masses and they are educated about its offering.

“We had previously leveraged video assets, radio spots, outdoor and print legs to push out our campaigns and announcements, to engage with people from different walks of life and communities,” he said. 

With future plans to expand beyond New Delhi, the brand right now is focusing on Delhi-NCR—learning consumers’ thought processes, viewpoints and choices.

Just ahead of the launch of its Cyber Hub Gurgaon store, it had launched a new campaign ‘Uniqlo In My Hub’, a people’s campaign highlighting 15 professional catalysts who either stay or work in Gurgaon and who have been able to shape a unique voice for this community.

Most other apparel brands have celebrities or influencers endorsements but for Uniqlo, the product is the hero and its performance is the core.

“Any association, if we do, will not be for the sake of getting a known face or its popularity; that association has to bring out the product feature. If we are able to do that without ‘a face’, great, if we need a face to enhance and highlight the product features, we are open to it. As of now, our focus is real people, real influencers, in short our consumers,” he added.

In Japan, he said, seven out of every 10 people use the brand, and the same vision is being carried forward for the Indian market.

Discussing why exactly the brand chose to enter the market this late, he said, “It is a no brainer that India is a huge market for any category. In the vision to be the number one, globally, the biggest building block is that India and the country has very strategic role and importance. And to ensure that we have all the ingredients to make Uniqlo a big factor in India, it took us some time. We first ensured that we have all the learning and understanding of the consumer, with the right people in the organisation prior to mark the beginning. As we stand for minimalist but high-quality clothes, we wanted to make sure the consumer has evolved to accept the brand wholeheartedly. Along with this, the macro environment, regulatory framework, government policy, everything was right for us to make that entry.”

It had been reported that high import duties in India impacted the brand’s pricing in the country, and in the first two days of opening up of its first store, the brand had sales of Rs 2.2 crore. 

Shantanu said, “While we cannot comment on financial terms, we are thrilled with the initial response from Indian customers, and will prioritise ourselves to ensure that we offer the best through our brand philosophy and product offerings. Currently, business is on track, thanks to the warm welcome from the customers here.”

The brand had run some inaugural offers during the opening and festive period.

Talking about the apparel category in India, he said there is a huge opportunity in India for different genres of brands to co-exist. Customers have to be exposed to minimalist design and high quality and that evolution will happen in the fashion category soon, he said.

It doesn’t own a manufacturing plant in the country but it handholds the contract manufacturer in every bit of the process to ensure high-quality apparels.


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