Tuesday, September 25, 2007


Anyone who has been to Japan (and many who haven’t) will know the name Muji. The name actually means 'no brand' and is the ‘brand’ of one of Japan’s smartest retailers.

To walk into a Muji store is to be enveloped by calm – the perfect environment for making intelligent choices. Everything in every Muji store is a Muji product. Apart from a small price sticker, which peels off, there is nothing on any Muji product to indicate where you purchased it from. I just kitted out my home office in Grasmere with Muji’s transparent gizmos.

Of course the ‘no brand’ brand is a very clever piece of branding in itself and this smart insight makes Muji a Lovemark for millions of people. The products are incredible; a mixture of Japanese cool and consumer desire. Notebooks to die for, pens, furnishings and clothing that are both understated and, in true Japanese fashion, stylish. Put that together with a determination to create a sustainable stock and you have a model for 21st century stores. People who are passionate about Muji products can pick them out of a line-up with their eyes closed, well half-open anyway. It’s not surprising then that Muji is planning to open two stores in New York. A Muji SoHo store will open mid-November and, sometime next year, they will add a flag-ship store in Manhattan.

The Muji brand is style, confidence and an intimate knowledge of what makes their customers feel good about themselves. With Muji, the call of the brand is a whisper rather than a shout. Perfect pitch for a Lovemark in a world that demands you attract people by presenting them with the things they love.


Susan Plunkett said...

So, the classic contradiction that winds up meaning what it set out to challenge. :) Or, the Clatton's brand..the brand you have when you don't have a brand.

Never been to Japan and never heard of Muji. When you say "Muji product" do you mean made exclusively by Muji? Every single item?

I've become so aware recently that these claims are often not the case - however saying that here is no reflection on Muji since I simply do not know.

Would I buy from them simply because they have tantalised with something vaguely ethereal? No, but I'd look. I wouldn't pay more because I had been seduced by the ethereal or to say "I have Muji". (Mainly because no-one I know would connect with it anyway :)

If I was given something Muji I might throw the phrase out there and see what I got for my troubles. Heh.

Nomad in Milan said...

Muji is a great place for paper lovers (and writers)... the quality of their products harmonizes perfectly with the design of the shops and the gentleness of the stewards... products are practical, well made and for what I know, event sustainable... (fortunately in Milan we have two of them!)

Susan Plunkett said...

I remain fascinated by occurrences here of people talking 'quality' products and yet not speaking to what that terms means to/for them. Too frequently we're seeing designer label or brand being spoken of as equating 'quality'; no ifs, no doubts - if it's exclusive or similar it will represent quality. I'd like to see a bit more substance placed on the bones of this because this doesn't cut it for me and it's coming close to vacuous superficial acceptance in my book. I'm NOT suggesting any of these brands aren't quality by the way but the product speak is spiel and of itself isn't persuasive unless one attaches importance to recommendations alone that sound lucid and persuasive. If Muji represents "quality" to someone, in what way or, haven't they thought about it and are just being generous with the term? Do marketeers seek the substance or just the elements that sound persuasive?

Susan Plunkett said...


I'd ask you to look at the following site as your time permits. The Vanderbuilt criterion set describing 'quality'. I feel it useful:


When you talk about "and an intimate knowledge of what makes their customers feel good about themselves", I can't disagree one iota with the premise. However, this attends to staff2client and sales-environs2client whilst not speaking to the actual value of the goods themselves.

You are in the transcedent upper level of Vanderbilt :) but the other criteria aren't being discussed.

I would also pose that if one's connection with the shopping experience is as fine as you so often seem to experience it Kevin, that it's a glorious process unto itself. So, with this in mind, why did you buy X and not J (ok, maybe CEO's can't opine quite so specifically but you know what I mean). I mean, if you really love the shopping experience and selection so much, is the product actually of less value when all is said and done. It becomes an acquisitive process because the shopping is one of the next best things to...

Piotr Jakubowski said...

“I have made this letter longer than usual, only because I have not had the time to make it shorter.”

I love the idea of simplicity, and the Muji brand is just that. Why complicate our daily articles when we can make it simple and practical? I think the Japanese have it in the bag when it comes to simplicity, practicality and quality.

I can think of another brand that exhibits this, Uniqlo. In fact, Uniqlo has opened a SoHo store (that is simply awesome) that people should take the time to look into if they are travelling to New York City. My shopping experience there was pleasurable and more!

Speaking of stationary, the Muji stationary line reminds me of another Lovemark, the Moleskine.