Miniso

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Miniso (simplified Chinese: ; traditional Chinese: ; pinyin: Míngchuàng Yōupǐn ), stylized as MINISO, [5] is a Chinese low-cost retailer and variety store chain that specializes in household and consumer goods including cosmetics, stationery, toys, and kitchenware. [6] Co-founded in 2011 by Japanese designer Junya Miyake and Chinese entrepreneur Ye Guofu, the company is headquartered in Guangzhou, China, [3] under the Chinese company Aiyaya. In 2016, the company's sales revenue reached $1.5 billion, [4] up from $769.9 million one year ago. [7]

Miniso has been criticized for sharing an aesthetic similarity to other Japanese variety stores, as well as for being a Chinese retailer that markets itself as Japanese. Even so, Miniso has expanded outside of the Chinese market and operates 1,800 stores in Asia, Europe, Australia, Africa, North America, and South America. [8] It plans to eventually open 6,000 stores worldwide. [9]

History

Miniso was founded in 2011 [9] by Japanese designer Junya Miyake (三宅順也), a graduate of the Bunka Fashion College in Shinjuku, Tokyo, and Chinese entrepreneur Ye Guo Fu (葉国富). [10] Initially claiming to be a famous Japanese brand, despite operating primarily in Mainland China under Chinese company Aiyaya, [11] Miniso has since expanded outside of China and established opened over a thousand stores worldwide. [8]

In January 2017, Miniso announced that they were seeking to enter the North Korean market, opening their first store in Pyongyang four months later. According to The Economist, the store was popular among the country's wealthy but only accepted foreign currency, including the U.S. Dollar, Chinese Yuan, and Euro as payment. [4] Soon after opening, the company's Japanese branch came under pressure for violating United Nations Security Council Resolution 2321 prohibiting trade with North Korea, distanced themselves from the move, and blamed the Chinese offices for the decision. [12] As a result of the controversy, Miniso promised not to ship anymore products to North Korea and the Pyongyang store was rebranded as "Evolution". [13]

Expansions and locations

Miniso first established a retail presence in China, and the majority of its stores still operate there. Even so, it has pursued an aggressive expansion plan in countries connected with China's One Belt One Road economic policy [14] and first began expanding in Asia, beginning with four retail locations in Japan before expanding to Taiwan, Hong Kong, Macau, India, Pakistan, Mongolia, South Korea, North Korea, Malaysia, Singapore, Vietnam, Sri Lanka, the Philippines and Bangladesh. [8] [4] Sales in one store in Vietnam on its opening day exceeded $10,000 in one hour. [15] Miniso's store in Pyongyang was notably the first and only foreign-branded retail store in North Korea. [4] It arrived in Australia in early 2017. [16]

In North America, Miniso currently operates several stores in Canada, the U.S., and Mexico. [17] [18] On August 6, 2016, Miniso signed a Comprehensive Strategic Cooperation Agreement with an American partner to expand its retail operations to the United States. [19] The first U.S. store opened in Pasadena in April 2017. [20]

In South America, Miniso opened its first retail store in Brazil in August 2017, and its second in Chile in December 2017, with plans to enter nearby Argentina soon. [21] In Africa, Miniso first entered South Africa in August 2017 [22] and Nigeria one month later. [23] As of January 2018, Miniso operates 2 stores in Cairo, Egypt. In Europe, Miniso operates retail outlets in Spain, United Kingdom, Germany, Italy, and Russia, among others. [8]

Marketing

Miniso's name is derived from the word "mini", after Japanese minimarts. Additionally, the color red was chosen as the brand's primary color because it is considered auspicious in Asian cultures. [10] However, there are no "minimarts" in Japan, where they're known as convenience stores. [24]

Miniso's marketing strategy has been compared to other Japanese retailers such as Muji, Daiso, and Uniqlo due to similarities in both store aesthetics, brand design, and inventory. [25] [26] [10] Because of its Japanese-influenced branding strategy, the company's products have been criticized as "made in China to look Japanese", [3] [27] particularly when many of the company's stores are located in China, where people trust Japanese brands more than domestic offerings. [6] It has also been criticized for affixing grammatically incorrect Japanese-language labels to many products, a consequence of using Baidu Translate to produce Japanese language copy, as admitted by Miniso management. [11] [6]

Nevertheless, because of Miniso's success in expanding its number of retail stores, AllianceBernstein, a global asset management company, called its market strategy a success by "filling a price-point niche left unaddressed by the Japanese formats it was imitating". [11]

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