A decade in the game, MINISO aims to transform into a lifestyle super brand
China-based MINISO has over 5,400 stores, of which more than 2,000 are in global markets, and it’s still growing.
Lifestyle retailer MINISO has reached a milestone as it celebrates its 10th anniversary this year. This is thanks to the brand’s adaptability in coming up with new products aligned with the prevailing consumer trends, and its continued global expansion.
The company’s growth does not stop here as it now plans to transform into a lifestyle super brand “that brings joy to consumers around the world.”
“The competition among lifestyle retailers is getting fiercer, especially in Southeast Asian markets where we saw many newcomers and emerging lifestyle brands. As a result, MINISO has to keep upgrading and innovating to stay ahead of the competition,” Vincent Huang, Vice President of MINISO’s Overseas Operations, told Retail Asia.
To achieve this goal, MINISO will put focus on design and innovation, and come up with products that will appeal to the emotions of its customers.
Huang also shared how the company performed in the past decade and what’s in store for the company this year.
Can you share with us your story and the lessons you learned in the past decade?
There are three lessons I’d like to share with you. First of all, globalisation is the right way to go and MINISO has shown a proven record of success by having over 5,400 stores globally. More than 2,000 stores are in the overseas markets. 2022 was a successful year for MINISO. We’ve recorded total revenue of over US$1.4b and hit a couple of milestones. Last February 2022, MINISO opened its first New York City store in SoHo Manhattan. In August, MINISO India celebrated 200 local stores. In September 2022, we celebrated the opening of its 2,000th overseas store in Lyon, France. MINISO has come a long way since its founding. In the past 10 years, MINISO reaped a billion consumers around the world. In 2020, MINISO was listed on the New York Stock Exchange and in 2022, publicly listed on Hong Kong Stock Exchange.
Secondly, consumers only pay for the brand’s professionalism. MINISO is responsive to new consumer trends and adaptive to consumers’ new preferences. We act fast and launch new and innovative products frequently to keep consumers excited.
Last but not least, reliable partnerships are key to success. At MINISO, we not only work with capable suppliers but also with retail partners, franchisees, distributors and intellectual property licensors. Some of our partnerships are already decade-long and we thank all of our partners who have grown with MINISO and will continue to do so in the coming years.
How was MINISO able to overcome past mistakes in operations? In retrospect, is there anything you would have done differently?
Over the past few years, we examined the top-performing stores in different markets and we found that a rich and diverse product portfolio and highly frequent launching of new products are the key to the success of MINISO stores. Only by doing so, customers will always find something new when they visit our store and come back to check out our latest offerings.
If our local partners want to achieve this, they must have a very professional and experienced commodity team. In the past, we only trained their commodity team for one or two months because at that time we were developing very fast. But if you ask me what I would have done differently, I think I would have them take our commodity training programme for at least six months.
What are the emerging trends and challenges you expect to emerge in the lifestyle industry this year?
We realize that the global toy market demonstrates strong momentum. The rise of “kidult” has proven that toys are not only for kids but for everyone, with collectibles being one of the most sought-out categories for kidults. This trend led to an over 100% increase in the sales record of MINISO blind box collectibles last year.
The other trend I’ve observed is that the accessories, skincare, and makeup products bounce back. In 2023, as people get back to activities and embrace the outdoor experience, spending on accessories and cosmetic products experiences a rise, too. To answer this trend, we opened a brand-new accessories warehouse in China, spanning over 7,500 square meters, and set up dedicated zones in the store for accessories, beauty and personal care products.
What strategies will you employ to be a lifestyle super brand?
First is to transform from a retail channel to a product brand which has its own channels. To do so, we have placed a high value on design and innovation. At present, we’ve partnered with international IP (intellectual property) owners including Disney, Smiley, Sanrio, and We Bare Bears, amongst others. We have also developed new products including scented products and pet accessories to meet younger consumers’ lifestyles and new demands.
We will establish our “Global Product Innovation Center” in China, the US, Japan, and South Korea which will serve as our innovation engine, providing more fun and professional design to global markets.
We will evolve from a retailer to an interest-driven content company. We aim to produce products with compelling stories that appeal to customers emotionally and generate social media sharing. Our IP-related products are the most representative item. We plan to bring in even more exciting IP collaborations, such as Peanuts, Hello Kitty, Barbie, and Mario Bros.
In addition to IP collaborations, we are working on enhancing our creativity and advancing in-house IP incubation, such as our MINI Family characters, Dundun the Chicken. We aim to bridge customers and MINISO and build a fun and joyful wonderland for global youngsters.
Lastly, we will transform consumption into a passion; and transform customers into users. Today, consumption is now a bilateral interaction between customers and brands. For MINISO, this is reflected in our “Joy Philosophy.” There is a winking smiley face in our logo. We’ll use it as a new super symbol that magnifies the fun and joy that we would like to bring to consumers.
How has consumer behaviour changed today compared to when MINISO just started?
When MINISO first started, affordability was the most important part when consumers made purchase decisions, and MINISO has made a name for the cost-effectiveness of our product offerings. Ten years later, consumers’ purchase decisions are driven by a lot more factors. Particularly, the younger generations are not only looking for functional values but also cultural and emotional values associated with the product. This change helped us realize that only by having appealing, fun and useful products can help MINISO transform into a lifestyle super brand.
Our licensed collections with big brands in pop culture such as Disney, Marvel, Sanrio, and Minions are examples of products that will meet their demands not only for function but also for emotional parts. Licensed products have proven to be very successful for us, and MINISO has partnered with over 80 world-famous IP licensors around the world.
The lifestyle industry is changing fast. Consumer demands and preferences shift very quickly. For a brand like MINISO, we have to stay alert and responsive because new demands lead to new products and categories, and new growth opportunities. Over the past 10 years, we saw the rise of scented products, like scented candles, diffusers, perfumes and fragrances, so MINISO launched Master’s Aroma Lab which focuses on creating unique scents. Another major behavioural change is the adoption of e-commerce and more recently social commerce which drove MINISO to transform into an omnichannel retailer.
What role will your brick-and-mortar stores play as MINISO now makes an omnichannel presence?
Offline stores remain the most important channel for MINISO and the most critical revenue source. To improve the in-store shopping experience, we are in the process of upgrading our offline stores. We will be dividing a MINISO store into dedicated zones so that consumers can easily navigate while browsing and setting up interactive areas, or play areas where they get to touch and feel our products before buying.
E-commerce is also important to MINISO. We not only operate our very own e-commerce sites but also cooperate with local e-commerce platforms such as Shopee and Lazada in Southeast Asia, and Amazon and Flipkart in India. We believe that offering additional channels of consumer experience will be a very good part for us, and will enhance our brand awareness and consumer loyalty, which increases in-store traffic and in-store purchases.
What's next for MINISO?
For MINISO, we are taking action in different aspects to ensure growth in the coming years. In terms of expansion, we will be opening new and more stores in critical markets as well as looking into entering new markets. For example, this month, we’ll have two new stores at Delhi International Airport in India as well as a flagship store in Guangzhou, China.
We are launching 3.0 stores which are bigger, brighter and more interactive. For example, in February this year, MINISO opened its first flagship in Chengdu. The three-storey store featured a brand-new Fragrance Museum, dedicated to MINISO fragrances and perfumes. Guangzhou also welcomed a same store this month.
In terms of product offerings, MINISO will focus on strategic categories, especially blind boxes, plush toys, and perfumes. We will also continue to work with world-renowned IP licensors. In the meantime, developing our original IP is also key. So far, we already had MINI Family and Dundun the Chicken, all of which are adored by customers.