Monday, February 4, 2013

Kensuke Suwa

Ensuke SuwaChief Marketing Officer- US & Europe

Japanese clothing retailer Uniqlo, known for unique, high-quality, well-made clothing at reasonable prices, has made headlines for its dramatic global expansion.  CMO Kensuke Suwa would argue, though, that the hallmarks of the brand are the customer benefits, as well as the shopping experience—whether in store or online.   Uniqlo recently launched its e-commerce site to support its expansion, and Suwa-san admits that replicating the feel of the store and the hands-on nature of shopping was a challenge. (Although the “Have Some Fun” Apps certainly echo the brand’s personality.)

 He is also an advocate of delivering the Uniqlo message appropriately to the local market, rather than emphasizing the company’s Japanese roots.  Its 2012 New York effort included the “People” campaign, highlighting distinguished New Yorkers in both brand advertising and as an online destination.  Suwa-san has repeatedly said, "We want to be a neighbor, a New Yorker."  Other elements of the New York launch emphasized Uniqlo’s philosophy “Made for All,” then followed with variations like “Greener for All” and “Warmer for All.”  (Uniqlo states that it is inclusive of all ages, rather than targeting sought-out fashion demographics and younger age groups.) The retailer also introduced pop-up stores and “Uniqlo Cubes,” featuring a key product category at trendy summer events and festivals. 

 Kensuke Suwa joined the company in 2001 and has led global marketing since 2007. Uniqlo, founded in 1984, now operates over one-thousand stores in a dozen countries with flagship operations in Japan, China, France, the UK and the US.  Fast Retailing, Uniqlo's parent company, is targeting nearly $60 billion in sales by 2020, which means opening 20-30 stores per year.  So we expect to keep up with Suwa-san for many years to come.

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