Why UNIQLO failed to dominate US market?
As a dominated fast retailing brand in Asia, UNIQLO has performed excellently in most Asian countries. However, the mediocre sales revenue and small market share in United States has became a serious problem for further expansion.
Why UNIQLO US can not be as successful as its asian fellows? There could be many reasons.
One thing for sure, it’s hard for an asian brand to carter different customer need and preference in western countries, especially a brand who has distinctive “Asian style”. Minimalism is always a recognized part of UNIQLO. The design is pretty much simple, and even in the stores, there is no flash decoration. Minimalism is kind of a popular culture in Japan, but it actually makes UNIQLO be overshadowed by other fast-fashion brands like Zara and H&M in US.
Another problem is that UNIQLO is not willing to change its clothes size for north American market. American normally have a bigger body structure than Asian, then it’s usually hard for overweighted or taller people to find a fit apparel in UNIQLO.
Besides the clothes design, there are also some other reasons hindering UNIQLO. For instance,there are only 44 stores in United States, and most of them are opened in big cities. However, the affordable price and the simplest design somehow exactly meet demand of people in second to third county, and it probably could grow more sales in those area if it changes the store-opening strategy and expands on e-commerce.
Some researchers also mentioned that global warming and extreme weather have significant influence on the UNIQLO, including US market. According to Bloomberg, warm weather worldwide hurts sales of winter clothes for UNIQLO, resulting in 14.2 % profit drop internationally.
All after all, the greatest challenge is brand awareness. According to my personal interviews, even in New York City where UNIQLO has 9 stores, most of people still have no ideal what the brand is. Besides the existing OOH commercial, it’s better for UNIQLO to become more active on social media to attract young audience (Its recent cooperation with Nintendo is very good example).