A Chinese retail company has apologized for designing itself like a Japanese store, saying it made “serious mistakes”.
Miniso, which sells household items and electronics, used a logo and branding that appeared similar to that of Japanese clothing firm Uniqlo. He has been criticized by Chinese consumers who believed he was not supporting his Chinese roots.
Miniso Group Holding is not known to have claimed to be a Japanese company. However, in a statement last week it apologized for its global brand strategy, launched in 2015 when it was led by a Japanese designer, which seemed to portray the firm as a “Japanese designer brand”. As of December 2021 there were more than 5,000 Miniso stores worldwide.
The marketing strategy was so successful that the news of the furore caused many to comment that they were surprised that the brand was Chinese.
The wave of criticism appears to have started in July, when Miniso’s Spanish branch posted photos on Instagram of Disney princess toys dressed in Chinese cheongsam, but mislabeled them as Japanese geisha dolls. The bug sparked thousands of negative social media interactions and editorials in the Chinese media saying such bugs were not allowed. The company’s share price fell more than 37%.
The controversy escalated when critics complained that the brand looked Japanese.
Chinese nationalism and anti-Japanese sentiment have been growing in China, particularly on social media, with criticism often focusing on perceived slights through pop culture.
Miniso’s apology was not enough for many, while others said they would continue to support the store as long as it “corrected the mistake”.
“The domestic brand has changed and the foreign brand should change faster,” said one.
“ME [hope] that with the wave of national rejuvenation, more companies will quickly examine themselves and be more aware of similar problems, and after upgrading and improving, they will become China’s business card to the world,” said another.
The company said it had been working to remove Japanese elements from its Chinese stores since 2019. Changes would also be made to overseas stores, it said, with control of social media posts centralized at its Chinese headquarters. Unnamed executives would be punished internally.
“Miniso is a Chinese company through and through and wants to be a full Chinese brand,” the statement said. “Thank you to the media and the public for your supervision and encouragement.”
Additional reporting by Xiaoqian Zhu