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Inside MINISO’s ‘Joyful’ Omnichannel Expansion Plan

MINISO has a big but simple goal: “We hope to make MINISO a popular lifestyle brand among young people by bringing joy to the world,” said Robin Liu, CMO and Head of Ecommerce for the fast-growing brand.

And just how will they manage to do that? By “breathing life” into their motto: “Life is for fun!”

More specifically, MINISO has spent the last year-plus bolstering its brick-and-mortar footprint in North America to amplify its proprietary $10 N’ Under concept, which has become beloved among Gen Z consumers. At the end of February 2022, the company made a significant mark on the Big Apple, opening a 7,974-square-foot flagship in SoHo. The expansive location features more than 3,000 products, most of which are part of the $10 N’ Under model.

“Our target consumers are primarily female consumers between the ages of 18 and 28,” Liu said in an interview with Retail TouchPoints. “They seek well-designed, practical and enjoyable products, and do not sacrifice quality or design for price. MINISO is taking their preferences into account and offering products in more diverse forms and categories to cater to their needs.”

As MINISO sets its sights on omnichannel growth, the company is leaning into other key differentiators: a strong supply chain, original designs, and licensing partnerships with some of the world’s most renowned brands, including Disney, Universal and the NBA. The company is even working on its original character set, such as the MINI Family, which includes a penguin character called MINI Pen.

Liu oversees the MINISO business, including product marketing, PR, user operations and global ecommerce, so he shared some exclusive insights into the company’s expansion plans and priorities.

Retail TouchPoints (RTP): What do you believe makes MINISO stand out against key competitors, especially among your target Gen Z consumers?

Robin Liu: Our core competitiveness lies mainly in our strong supply chain and original designs.

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Most of our supply chain is in China. Not only do they offer a very large product portfolio, but they are able to respond quickly to our needs. As a result, MINISO can launch new products frequently and ensure that they are visually pleasing, easy to use and fun to play with.

MINISO controls the entire value chain, from product design to marketing and sales. We are thus able to eliminate intermediaries and transfer the benefits to consumers.

A particular strength of ours is our robust design capability. In 2018, MINISO established the MINISO DESIGN ACADEMY (MDA), our international and diverse design team. By the end of 2021, the team had grown to encompass 124 designers, with 37 external design partners that include the China Academy of Art, Guangzhou Academy of Fine Arts, design studios in Korea and more.

Thanks to our supply chain and design advantages, MINISO can successfully implement our “7-1-1 philosophy”. Every seven days, MINISO launches approximately 100 new SKUs that are carefully selected from a library of more than 10,000 product ideas. This is to ensure that our products can keep up with the new trends.

Moreover, MINISO puts an enormous emphasis on localization. Approximately 70% to 80% of the products sold at MINISO stores across the world are similar, while 20% to 30% are unique products that have been chosen according to local market trends and local consumer demands. For example, in Europe, MINISO initially provided towels that were designed with an Asian aesthetic. We discovered that European consumers prefer large bath towels in plain colors and tend to buy in bulk, so we adjusted our product strategy accordingly.

RTP: You have expanded your store footprint significantly over the past year. How would you summarize your brick-and-mortar growth strategy and objectives?

Liu: When expanding, MINISO takes two major things into consideration. The first is the local retail environment, the maturity of nearby businesses and the threshold of entry. The second is the local market opportunities and our analysis of whether our own supply chain, capacity and resources can enable growth in the local market.

In the past two years, the pandemic has resulted in restrictions and affected the speed of our overseas expansion. However, the cost of a new store lease also has dropped by about 20%. That’s why it’s actually a good time for us to expand.

RTP: What are MINISO’s brick-and-mortar goals for 2022? Are there any established projections for growth?

Liu: In 2022, MINISO will continue to expand our footprint in North America. Currently, we already have over 100 stores in North America, including a new flagship store in New York City.

Our expansion in Europe will also continue, in countries like Spain, France, Italy and more. We have plans to enter some new markets as well. In the long run, our expansion will be determined by multiple factors such as the global pandemic and negotiations with local partners.

RTP: The $10 N’ Under concept is integral to the MINISO experience. How do you stay true to this model in stores while also creating an immersive and elevated experience?

Liu: We launched the $10 N’ Under concept because we noticed that Gen Z consumers in the U.S. are looking for trendy, well-designed products of high quality. Nonetheless, they are also price sensitive. The $10 N’ Under concept was born to meet this demand. We elevate this shopping experience in three ways:

  • We experiment with a lot of new products. For example, we developed consumer goods such as snacks and toys that are more specific to the needs of North American consumers.
  • In terms of décor and in-store design, our visual identity tends to align with youthful aesthetics, presenting the trendy and energetic side of MINISO. The height of our shelves and the placement of our products (such as toys and candy placed on the lower sections) are also fully considered and designed according to the requirements of specific customers, such as children.
  • To enhance the in-store shopping experience, we make special arrangements. For example, in our New York flagship store, we set up some zones that are dedicated to activities beyond shopping. Gen Z consumers can experience the joy that MINISO brings them while having fun and spreading the joy on social media through photos and videos taken in the store.

RTP: What role does digital currently play in your business? What investments have proven valuable for MINISO’s expansion?

Liu: MINISO’s online business is significant: As of September 30, 2021, the revenue from our online channels accounted for 10% of our total revenue. We localize our ecommerce strategy according to different markets. For instance, in the U.S., we have MINISOusaonline.com.

We also have launched on several well-established third-party ecommerce platforms, like Shopee and Lazada in Southeast Asia. In China, we have online stores on almost every ecommerce platform, covering Tmall and JD.com as well as livestream ecommerce platforms like Douyin and Kuaishou. We also leverage the unique WeChat ecosystem to reach consumers via our WeChat mini-program. We remain open to investing in new ecommerce channels across different markets; the only difference will be timelines and the level of investment.

RTP: What have been some key learnings for MINISO in 2021, and how will these takeaways guide or influence your 2022 strategy?

Liu: 2021 was marked by the accelerated development of ecommerce. We will continue to invest in online channels while expanding to other channels at the same time. With the global rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine and the pandemic increasingly under control, we believe that the offline retail business will rebound. We will experiment with different offline retail formats accordingly.

Consumer behaviors and attitudes have also changed in the past year. Economic uncertainty and instability have made consumers less secure about personal finance and shopping. They are more price-sensitive but remain unwilling to give up on quality and experience. To respond to that, we debuted the $10 N’ Under concept in the U.S. We want $10 N’ Under to be the first store that is below ten and beyond trend for young people.

In 2022, we will continue to power forward on a path of strategic growth and launch new products that are a visual delight as well as fun to play with. We will continue to work with licensors of global renown, and we will invest more in toys, blind boxes, fragrance and scented products, as they have proven to be incredibly popular with consumers.

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