Muji is an amazing retail concept and a fabulous example of a retailer who succeeds with a strong point of view. Roughly translated as “without adornment” from Japanese, Muji was founded in 1980 with a goal to create simple, low-cost, good quality products by viewing an item through three lenses: material selection, inspection process, and packaging simplification. Muji has become one of the most recognized Japanese brands overseas due to their minimalist and natural product design that is offered at a reasonable price. Muji products manage to be both simple and sophisticated at the same time.
If you happen to visit a Muji outside of Japan, you will likely encounter a smallish (5,000 square feet or so) store focused on core Muji categories like housewares and apparel. However, the newer Muji stores in Japan have expanded significantly into new merchandise categories and are pushing the boundaries into how far the brand can stretch. At 45,000 square feet, the latest store in Osaka is billed as the largest Muji in the world.
That said, Muji continues to shine by creating a transparent link between the consumer and the end product. A case in point is the focus on a single product (a sneaker) and showing the manufacturing process down to an impactful display of the end product:
DaVinci once said that “simplicity is the ultimate sophistication”. That notion describes Muji perfectly. It will be interesting to see if they can maintain that philosophy as they expand into disparate businesses from fresh foods to the newly launched Muji Hotels, which was recently featured in the latest edition of Retail Innovations, available here.