Photo: Eugene Hoshiko/AP Images
Uniqlo is going nuts with a global expansion right now, opening big stores in prime locations at the world’s most prominent shopping districts.What’s helping drive this?
Uniqlo is run as more of a tech company than a fashion house. It ignores big trends and focuses on innovating products.
So, naturally, some of its senior management team’s biggest influencers are tech people and their companies. CEO Tadashi Yanai referred to Steve Jobs as an important influence on how he runs things.
COO Yasunobu Kyogoku is one of the key figures at Uniqlo, and in a recent interview with Wired Business, he was asked about what the retailer has learned from Apple.
Here’s what Kyogoku had to say to Wired Business:
“The customer doesn’t necessarily know what they want. Sometimes you have to find the answer within yourself. So Steve Jobs said, ‘How do I revolutionise the customer experience with the phone? And he said get rid of all the buttons except for one on the bottom of the phone.’ We asked ourselves the same question: How do we revolutionise how people think about, for example, thermal underwear, which over time has generally become a phenomenon itself with Heattech. People didn’t say, ‘I need it.’ But we started to innovate and went through thousands of iterations in the fabric until we came up with what we have today.
Also, that you have to aim high. People will always say, ‘it can’t be done.’ Our company has grown double digits for the past 20 years through, not just slow growth, but deflation and a shrinking economy. There are more cats and dogs than there are children in Japan. How does a company continue to grow despite that? It’s by creating products the customer wants. It’s by being innovative.”
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