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On Wednesday, February 14th, the Master of Science students from the Barcelona School of Management had the privilege of learning from Joaquim de Toca Andreu, CEO of MUJI in Spain and Portugal. As an insider and top executive in the company, he explained truths about how a “no brand” brand like MUJI has been successful in over 25 countries worldwide. The lessons he gave were relevant and valuable ones which you can apply in your business:

1 The first lesson is: take the risk of being different.

MUJI started in the 1980´s in Japan when the country was in economic boom and western luxury brands were invading the market. At this time, MUJI decided to bet for products that would be opposite as the ones already available; products that people would buy for a reasonable price because of their functionality, quality and design, and not because of their brand. This is the main concept of MUJI, an abbreviation of “MujirushiRyohin”, which means “no brand quality goods” in Japanese.

A glimpse of MUJI´s history and corporate information.

 

2. Second, get real customer insights.

Design is an important principle of MUJI´s philosophy, it is based in creating simple and practical goods, with no frills and fancies. To get real insights about which designs might be appealing to customers, MUJI has the practice of visiting people’s homes to personally evidence their lifestyles, tensions, problems and/or necessities. This way, MUJI gets real insights about what to design to provide value to customers. This practice is an essential part of MUJI´s design process.

One of MUJI´s most awarded designs which is now displayed at the New York Museum of Modern Art, a wall-mounted CD player.

 

3. Third, expand and study opportunities worldwide.

For a business like MUJI to be successful, it is important to scale and grow. One way that MUJI does this is by recognizing which cities around the world might appreciate their brand and therefore have more sales potential.

One type of city may be the one that is becoming more crowded, busy and with smaller apartments, like the ones in Japan from which MUJI originally based it´s designs.

Another type is the one with high tourist shopping. According to Joaquim, people who travel may spend more money shopping during the trip than in the actual hotel.

MUJI then focuses on these cities and calls them “MUJI cities” which include but are not limited to London, Paris, New York, Barcelona and more.

 

4. Finally, provide physical brand experiences.

A big challenge in consumer behavior is growth in online sales, therefore also declines in shopping center sales. One of MUJI´s strategies to survive in both environments is creating physical brand experiences. Some ways MUJI does this is through:

 

  • Flagship stores (A big part of their success is including food so that people can come back and visit the store frequently)
  • Workshops (May include origami, Japanese calligraphy, furoshiki, and more)
  • Tasting (May include opportunities to taste food, skincare, aromas and more)
  • MUJI hotels (MUJI stocks a hotel with their products and then makes an agreement with a company who know how to manage the hotel business)
  • Staff motivation (MUJI trains and motivates their staff to have friendly interactions with customers at the store)

Joaquim sharing MUJI gifts and insights with some of our Msc students and professors.

 

Certainly, Joaquim presented valuable lessons about the interesting MUJI success strategy. Hopefully, you will be able to put these lessons in practice in your real-life business situations. If you want to continue learning from professionals like Joaquim, stay tuned to our social media platforms and get details about next events.

 

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