Muji Thinks So
by Idris Mootee
I am not a superfan of Muji but I am very impressed with their last three years of repositioning or finetuning of the brand and after spending 15 minutes in one of their stores in Tokyo I can see why they are doing well. The concept is exporting well to the US too. If you’re in Tokyo, check our their fashion line, you’ll know what I mean. What attracted me was Muji Lego, not sure how they get away with it. Why Muji Lego? Tempted to get one but I decided I have enough Lego.
What I like most is the Muji-to-Go concept stores. There is one in Narita Airport and one in JFK Airport too that I know of but there are more. It is a small footprint store focus on smaller items and travel accessories. I did find a few interesting things there while killing 30 mins in Tokyo’s Narita Airport. The sheer simplicity of design is not boring; it carries some novelty ideas and there is a sense of design in everything.
Not sure people know much about the history of this brand; it began as a generic brand old in Japan’s Seiyu department stores covering some snacks and household stuff, not very exciting then.
The last five years it came back as a cool movement with more than 8,000 SKUs. In 1989 it was incorporated as an independent company and since it sent through some ups and downs. Muji represents human ingenuity, efficiency and put our bottomless consumption on display 30,000 square feet at a time. That’s an interesting way to put it. They don’t’ see Muji as a brand. Muji’s philosophy is that they create products with a view toward global consumption of the future. This means that they do not create products that lure customers into believing that “this is the best” of “I must have this.” We would like our customers to think that they don’t need the best but this is “this is enough.” The “Best” becomes “enough”. I think teaching people “enough” is a very interesting idea. Credit card companies don’t like the idea for sure.
We have quite a few “Mujirers” in our offices and they are used to small space, highly practical but good taste for simplicity. Cheesan is a big fan I know. Not sure it is a sign of post-materialist shift or people simply like to make things simple. Or a bit of both. Here’s excerpt from Muji “Unless we adopt values informed by moderation and self-restraint, the world will find itself at an impasse. All people living today deep down are probably already beginning to consider greater self-restraint as a way of life.”
And by the way, Muji does not stand for low price. Spend more and get less is part of the idea too, but they don’t say it that way. Or call it smart consuming. Buy less and get more? Oh get the Muji iPad app, it is nice and free.
Idris Mootee is the CEO of idea couture, a strategic innovation and experience design firm. He is the author of four books, tens of published articles, and a frequent speaker at business conferences and executive retreats.