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优衣库成为全球品牌,全靠这四大秘技

Kieron Johnson 2017年10月25日

全球第三大服装连锁品牌认为,它终将成为第一。原因何在?

如果你在营销领域工作,你在接受采访时可能会禁不住诱惑,高谈阔论一套生搬硬套的推销言论。而采访东京上市公司迅销(Fast Retailing)的全球创意总裁约翰·杰伊却给人耳目一新的感觉。迅销是日本休闲服装零售连锁店优衣库(Uniqlo)的母公司。杰伊作为该公司的营销专家,在接受《采访》杂志采访时,坦率地谈论了优衣库的业绩、定位和在全球快消服装行业占据主导地位的计划,偶尔也会有一些批评的意见。

优衣库在1984年成立于日本广岛,目前在18个市场有超过1,900家门店(美国有47家)。全球每周就会新开一家优衣库门店。优衣库是亚洲最大和全球第三大服装连锁品牌,它的目标是成为全球第一。该品牌的全球增长正在给其母公司 带来回报: 在周四公布的业绩报告中,迅销集团宣布在截至8月份的财年,其营业利润达到创纪录的1,764亿日元(15.7亿美元),主要原因是优衣库的海外收入增长了95.4%。

优衣库连锁品牌来自其亿万富翁创始人兼CEO柳井正的创意。他曾获得2013年“时代百大最具影响力人物”提名,据《福布斯》报道,柳井正的个人财富为164亿美元,目前在日本排在第二位。

杰伊曾担任耐克(Nike)创意总监。他在采访中分享了公司建设全球时尚品牌的四个原则。

1. 确立经营理念

优衣库(原名“独特服装仓储式商店”(Unique Clothing Warehouse))销售时尚、实用和技术创新的服装(被称作服适人生),包括男装、女装、童装和婴儿服装。但杰伊认为,更重要的是,“优衣库创立的根本是‘民主’。

“‘造服于人’[优衣库的广告语]是我们的理念。我们的目标是将所有服装民主化,为所有人提供耐用、经济实惠的服装。”

民主超越了价位。优衣库创始人的商业理念,究其根由是“同工同酬”的信念。柳井正已经提出了统一薪酬制度,该制度规定全球所有门店经理将获得相同的薪酬(目前已经在优衣库高层中实行)。

2. 讲真话胜过讲道理

真话具有普世的吸引力 — 在伦敦可行的话在洛杉矶同样行得通。所以,在优衣库的全球品牌讲故事配方中,炒作和广告宣传所占的份额可以忽略不计。

例如,优衣库的广告语“造服于人”不只是一句象征性的话。公司为所有人提供休闲服饰的理念(不论任何年龄、性别、种族、残疾和其他定义特征),在优衣库业务的其他方面都有切实的体现,例如公司选择的模特、全球品牌大使等等。该时尚品牌赞助的运动员包括戈登·雷德,他是温布尔登具有统治地位的轮椅网球冠军,在2016年里约残奥会上夺得了冠军。

杰伊坚信品牌建设的关键是:“从真话开始。作为一个品牌,你要问自己:‘我们存在的意义是什么?别人为什么要关注你?我们如何为人类和社会做出好的贡献?’然后,你需要发挥创造力,有力量、有情感、清晰明了地讲述你的故事。”

3. 为善,行善

杰伊说道:“只有当你坚持成为一家伟大的产品制造商,并且你作为地区和全球公民的行动得到人们的信任和钦佩时,你才能得到品牌信任。”

柳井正也认同这样的观点。他在三十岁时就开始写下了后来的23条管理原则,他将这些原则形容为优衣库的“灵魂”。这些原则中最重要的都是一些基本的宗旨,例如客户至上和贡献社会等等。

尤其是在最近几年,柳井在不断践行贡献社会这条原则。今年8月,纽约市全球非盈利组织亚洲协会(Asia Society)公布了亚洲创变者获奖名单,优衣库创始人榜上有名。该组织表示,柳井正获奖的原因是通过“打造一个热衷于回馈本地社区的全球零售帝国”,“让慈善变成时尚”。例如: 自2007年以来,Uniqlo Recycle与联合国难民署(United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees,UNHCR)合作,为全世界的难民、疏散人员、灾民、孕妇和哺乳期妈妈以及有需要的人捐赠了2,030万件衣服。

4. 选好位置

杰伊表示,与房地产一样,一个品牌的全球价值取决于它的位置。遵循这个原则,优衣库希望其研发中心在战略上对应全球的时尚中心 — 纽约、伦敦、米兰、巴黎、东京等。

杰伊表示,3月份成立的Uniqlo City Tokyo全球创意中心,将作为公司目前和未来创意研发工作的中心。但他表示:“伦敦也有一支小型研发团队,服务于迅销的GU品牌。这里最终将发展成优衣库的创意研发实验室。”

优衣库的快速时尚未来

2016年,优衣库的品牌价值为70亿美元,在《福布斯》全球最具价值品牌排行榜中名列第91位。

杰伊承认:“优衣库排在第91位证明我们还有很长的路要走……作为一个全球品牌,我们才刚刚起步。”有零售分析师批评优衣库缺乏在线影响力并且没有针对非亚洲市场做出调整,对于这些批评的声音,杰伊坦然接受。他表示:“这是事实,[补救这些问题]是我们的数字战略的一部分。我们的目标是成为一家全球数字零售公司,Uniqlo City Tokyo是实现这个目标的第一步。”

优衣库是全球第三大服装零售商,仅次于瑞典跨国品牌H&M和Zara的母公司、西班牙跨国公司Inditex。有零售分析师预测,只要优衣库在全球增长发动机亚洲有大幅增长,它就有可能成为全球最大的时尚品牌,即使它不是美国的第一名。

但杰伊对优衣库的定位非常明确: “重要的不是我们如何取得第一的位置。如果不能赢得美国人民的心,我们会非常失望……休闲服装很大程度上来说是西方/美国人的发明,而作为一家诞生于日本文化和匠人精神的公司,我们希望能够续写这个传奇。

我们希望成为第一,根本原因不在于我们想要变得更大。我们希望成为第一是因为我们想要变得更好。”(财富中文网)

译者:刘进龙/汪皓

When you work in marketing, it’s hard to fight the temptation to regurgitate promotional spiel in an interview. So it was refreshing to connect with John Jay, president of global creative at Tokyo-listed Fast Retailing, the parent company of Japanese casual wear retail chain, Uniqlo. In an interview with Fortune, Jay, who is essentially the company’s marketing guru, was candid and occasionally critical about Uniqlo’s performance, positioning and plans for world domination in the fast-fashion clothing and apparel industry.

Founded in Hiroshima, Japan, in 1984, Uniqlo today counts more than 1,900 stores (47 in the U.S.) across 18 markets. Every week, there’s a Uniqlo store opening somewhere in the world. It’s the largest clothing chain in Asia, and the third-largest globally, with an eye on becoming number one. The brand’s global growth is paying off for its parent company: In an earnings report on Thursday, Fast Retailing announced that its operating profit hit a record high of 176.4 billion yen ($1.57 billion) for the year that ended in August, thanks in large part to a 95.4% increase in Uniqlo’s overseas earnings.

The Uniqlo chain is the brainchild of billionaire founder and CEO, Tadashi Yanai – a Time 100 nominee in 2013, and currently Japan’s second-richest person, with a net worth of $16.4 billion, according to Forbes.

Jay, a former creative director for Nike, shared the company’s four principles for building a global fashion brand.

1. Establish your “why”

Uniqlo (formerly the “Unique Clothing Warehouse”) sells fashionable, functional and technologically innovative clothes – called LifeWear – for men, women, children and babies. But more importantly, according to Jay, “Uniqlo was founded on being ‘democratic.’

“‘Made for all’ [Uniqlo’s slogan] is our philosophy. Our goal is to democratize all clothing by making it durable, accessible and affordable for everyone.”

Democracy extends beyond price point. Its founder’s business philosophy is underpinned by the belief that “an equal amount of work deserves an equal wage.” Yanai has proposed a universal pay system in which shop managers worldwide would receive the same salary (this is already in place for high-ranking Uniqlo executives).

2. Truth-telling trumps storytelling

The truth has universal appeal – what works in London will work in Los Angeles. So, hype and advertising “puff” play little or no part in Uniqlo’s global brand storytelling formula.

For instance, Uniqlo’s slogan, “Made for all,” isn’t just a token statement. The company’s philosophy of providing casual clothes that are made for all people (irrespective of age, gender, ethnicity, disability and other defining traits) is genuinely reflected in other parts of Uniqlo’s business, such as its selection of models, global brand ambassadors and so forth. The fashion brand’s sponsored athletes include Gordon Reid – the reigning Wimbledon wheelchair tennis champion and a Rio 2016 Paralympic Games gold medallist.

When it comes to brand-building, “Start with the truth,” Jay insists. “As a brand, ask, ‘Why do we exist? Why should anyone care? How do we contribute to the good of people and society?’ Then, you need creativity to tell your story with power, emotion and clarity.”

3. Be good, do good

“Brand trust can only come if you are consistent as a great product-maker and if your actions as a local and global citizen are trusted and admired,” Jay says.

Yanai subscribes to the same school of thought. While in his thirties, Yanai started writing what would eventually become 23 management principles, which he collectively terms the “soul” of Uniqlo. Foremost among these principles are fundamental tenets such as putting customers first and contributing to society.

Yanai has honed in on this latter principle, particularly in recent years. In August, the Asia Society – a New York City-based global non-profit – publicized the list of recipients of the Asia Game Changers award, which features the Uniqlo founder. According to the group, Yanai was made an awardee for “making philanthropy fashionable” by “building a global retail empire that gives back to local communities.” One example: In partnership with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), Uniqlo Recycle has delivered 20.3 million clothing items to refugees, evacuees, victims of disaster, expectant and nursing mothers and others in need around the world since 2007.

4. Plan your location, location, location

Like property, Jay says, a brand’s global value is determined by the mantra “location, location, location.” With this principle in mind, Uniqlo wants its research and development (R&D) centers to strategically mirror the fashion capitals of the world – New York, London, Milan, Paris, Tokyo and the like.

Uniqlo City Tokyo: Global Innovation Center, which opened in March, serves as the central location for the company’s current and future creative R&D efforts, Jay says. But he notes that, “London has opened with a small team of researchers for Fast Retailing’s GU brand. This will eventually grow into a creative R&D lab for Uniqlo.”

Uniqlo’s fast-fashion future

In 2016, with a brand value of $7bn, Uniqlo ranked 91st on the Forbes list of the world’s most valuable brands.

“The fact that Uniqlo ranked 91 is evidence of how far we have to go…we have only just begun as a global brand,” Jay acknowledges. When reminded of the criticisms retail analysts level at Uniqlo – that it lacks online presence and has failed to adjust to non-Asian markets – Jay takes them on the chin. “This is absolutely true and [remedying these problems] is part of our digital strategy,” Jay says. “Our goal is to be a global digital retail company, and the launch of Uniqlo City Tokyo is the first step towards that objective.”

Uniqlo is the third-largest fashion retailer in the world – behind Swedish multinational H&M, and Zara’s parent company, Inditex, a Spanish multinational. Some retail analysts forecast that, if Uniqlo wins big in Asia – the world’s growth driver – it could become the number one fashion brand, even without becoming number one in the U.S.

But Jay is unequivocal about Uniqlo’s position: “That is not how we would like to achieve the number one position. We would be disappointed if we could not win the hearts and minds of the American people…Casual apparel is largely a Western/American invention, so we want to add to that legacy as a company born from Japanese culture and craftsmanship.

“Ultimately, we want to become number one not simply because we are bigger. We want to become number one because we are better.”

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