EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW with MINISO’s CMO
MINISO is a lifestyle product retailer, offering household goods, cosmetics, and food at affordable prices. Since its first store opened in Guangzhou in 2013, MINISO has opened more than 4,330 stores in over 80 countries and regions in 7 years. With a focus on sleek design and fun trends, its mission is to assure through its products that a better life has nothing to do with the price.
Retail in Asia had the pleasure to interview MINISO’s CMO, Robin Liu, about e-commerce, consumer insights post-pandemic, and brand upgrade in Mainland China.
Xiaobin Liu (Robin Liu) joined MINISO in 2019 and is currently the Chief Marketing Officer and Head of E-Commerce Business at MINISO. He is responsible for the business of MINISO and its related brands, product marketing, public relations, user operations and global e-commerce. Before joining MINISO, Robin gained 14 years of rich marketing and communication experience on both the in-house and agency sides. Robin holds professional experience in Brand Management, Product Marketing & Operations; maintained solid media and partner relations, and also possesses extensive knowledge and a deep understanding of the TMT & FMCG industries.
RiA: What is the concept/story behind the brand?
Robin: Founder and CEO Ye Guofu gained inspiration for MINISO while on vacation with his family in Japan in 2013. He came across a number of specialty stores in Japan which stocked good quality, well designed, and inexpensive products that were mostly manufactured in China. Leveraging his knowledge and experience in product development, supply chain, and channel resources gained from running fashion chain brands, Ye launched MINISO with its headquarters in Guangzhou, China, a brand which caters to young people around the world.
RiA: How has the brand evolved over the years?
Robin: Since 2013, MINISO’s business model has not changed fundamentally.
In 2020, MINISO launched brand upgrading strategy, after 7 years of fast growth and expansion globally. MINISO will make more efforts on improving operation efficiency and customer experience, instead of a single-minded pursuit of growth. At brand level, MINISO positioned itself as “low budget with high quality” brand and keep sailing on its expanding journey.
In 2021, MINISO has launched its “X strategy”, committed to diversifying its business and becoming a world-leading new retail platform capable of incubating more sub-brands, such as TOPTOY.
RiA: What is the customer profile? How has it changed before and after Covid-19?
Robin: With its cute trinkets, handy gadgets in adorable packaging, colors, and a decent price tag, MINISO‘s target audience ranges from the age of 18 to 35 due to its simplicity, trend-setting agendas, and qualitative features while keeping up with consumer needs. But we offer products that suit everyone. The prices cater to all socio-economic groups. In addition to our convincing, stylistic and cost-efficient products, given the color-theming of MINISO products and stores, it is safe to say that the primary audience is female.
RiA: What customer / retail trends do you see for the lifestyle industry?
Robin: MINISO finds that ‘Ultra low-budget’ brand will be more popular among consumers. Consumers will pay more for the value of the products, especially under the background of epidemic and economic depression. Judging from past experience, the rise of Uniqlo in Japan’s “depressed decade” and the birth of the largest discount retail T.J.MAXX in US oil crisis have fully confirmed the standpoint. But we cannot simply put it that consumers are in pursuit of cheap products. What they really pursue is the beauty of life without burden, so they still have demands for design, beauty, and quality.
On the other hand, physical offline retail still has great value, and offline shopping experience is irreplaceable. MINISO will continue to broaden the online channel as a supplement at the same time as adhering to the offline main channel.
RiA: What is MINISO’s digital strategy?
Robin: MINISO believes that the industry needs to embrace digitalization, as it expands its e-commerce business.
In 2021, the company will continue to expand its online presence in China and overseas, and launch new brands starting from online channels. In the mainland Chinese market, MINISO will be expanding its reach to e-commerce platforms it had not previously been involved with, such as Gome and Suning. To date, MINISO has 39 million members and over 3 million community users.
As an experienced offline retailer, MINISO will keep leveraging its advantages in offline retail channel network, consumer insights, and capabilities in developing new products. Moreover, MINISO will develop its WeChat e-commerce ecosystem based on its mini-program and WeChat store.
COVID-19 is a catalyst that has accelerated our digital transformation and embrace of online channels, MINISO will keep broadening its online sales channels. Starting 2019, MINISO has partnered with third parties, such as DiDi, Meituan and JD.com, embarking on OTO (Online-To-Offline) services.
Stay tuned to a second interview with MINISO on its global expansion.