Asako Shimazaki, U.S. president of Muij explained that despite operating 760 stores worldwide, the retailer has a “human-centered” approach. Shimazaki said, “Muji has a clear message that’s simple, practical and affordable. There are no complicated user instructions. When we eliminate unnecessary functions, products become easy and functional to use.”
Shimazaki said Muji caters customer needs with “good products, good environments and good content.
“Muji means no-brand quality goods,” she said. In other words, the company believes that the materials and construction of a product should speak louder than the label.
Muji was launched 36 years ago, selling household goods, apparel and food. The company’s key tenets include “low prices, simple and minimal,” she said.
When Muji bowed in 1980 it offered only 40 products. Today, it sells 7,000 items, Shimazaki said. In addition to the categories such as skin care for men and women and all skin types, luggage, stationary, electronics, storage, furniture, Muji even sells houses, although not in the U.S.
Shimazaki extolled the virtues of the brand’s products, which are based on “universal design and multi-function design.
“With multifunction products, the customer decides how they want to use them,” Shimazaki said. An example of a multifunction product is a bed that can also be used as a sofa.
Another core philosophy of Muji is creating engaging retail environment. A profusion of green plants enhances Muji’s unit on Fifth Avenue in Manhattan. “We built a scale model of Tokyo using 1,000 Muji products for the store’s window,” Shimazaki said.
Customization adds to the appeal of a store.
“At the Fifth Avenue store, you can buy your own individual things there,” she said. “You can create your favorite aroma blends on site. There’s a station where customers can individualize and personalize many of our clothing items with embroidery. It allows the customer to take part in creating a product and is a way Muji distinguishes itself from other retailers.”
The stamp station is another a “unique opportunity to personalize a purchase,” Shimazaki said, adding that the station appeals to children and adults.
Bestsellers are the same around the world and include the Body Fit Cushion, rice cooker, which has a user-friendly shape, multifunctional boxes and fragrance diffusers.
Muji holds events to educated consumers on “the thought behind the design of every product,” Shimazaki said. Found Muji exhibitions are designed to help “customers learn where our products originate from, their city and their story.”
Muji opened its first store in a shopping center at Garden State Plaza in Paramus, N.J. “New Jersey is a really important market for us,” Shimazaki said, adding that there are advertisements for the store inside the mall.
Muji has a less is more attitude toward advertising. “We have a clear message that [Muji] is simple, practical and affordable,” Shimazaki said. “We don’t spend a large portion of our budget on advertising. We want the shopping experience and word of mouth to increase our customer base.”