Joyce Lam
Joyce is a Senior Trends Analyst at Mintel, focusing on capturing consumer behaviour for the Asia Pacific market, as well as supporting the global Mintel Trends team to identify new consumer trends.

Japanese fashion brand Uniqlo and the China Soong Ching Ling Foundation are jointly launching the Miao embroidery programme.


Uniqlo’s Miao embroidery programme will provide training, skill support and over 400 job opportunities for women from the Miao ethnic group in western Hunan province. The move will enable the fashion label to incorporate local designs into its products while promoting the culture of the Miao people. Finely embroidered textiles featuring vivid cultural characteristics like waves, flowers, fish, and ox, are a specialty of the Miao people.

The Japanese fashion label is tapping into the growing importance of people’s cultural identity; the Miao embroidery programme is not only building a socially-responsible brand image for Uniqlo, but also enabling consumers to express a part of their cultural heritage through their outfits. This all aligns with Mintel Trend ‘Patriot Games’ which highlights how feelings of nationalism, patriotism, and pride are changing in response to cultural and demographic shifts.

The Miao embroidery programme is also a move that resonates well among Chinese consumers as Mintel’s latest report on Chinese consumer attitudes towards corporate social responsibility (CSR) reveals that over two in five urban Chinese consumers say that brands and companies that support under-developed areas in China make a good impression.

The importance of localisation

In recent years, foreign fast fashion brands have been struggling in the Chinese market. Apart from strong competition from local brands in China, Chinese consumers have become increasingly sophisticated and are after higher quality clothing at an affordable price point. This consumer behaviour has fuelled Uniqlo’s success in China as the brand targets consumers who are willing to pay for quality rather than quantity.

Beyond the fashion industry, foreign brands in other sectors are also embracing the Chinese culture and incorporating local elements in their product offerings. KFC, for instance, has extended its menu with local Chinese street snacks such as skewers and lou wei in 10 major cities across China, including Shanghai, Chengdu, and Harbin. Meanwhile, Nescafé restructured a traditional courtyard home to open the Sense Café in Beijing, a pop-up café that fuses coffee and the city’s local elements into a sensorial experience. Oreo also launched six new imperial-inspired flavours that were created in collaboration with Beijing’s Palace Museum.

What we think

Young Chinese consumers are putting more emphasis on their individuality than any generation before. Their cultural identity, which gives them a sense of belonging and is defined by their ancestry, heritage, values, traditions, language, and more, is something they love to express through their lifestyles and product purchases. Brands and companies, especially international ones, could consider looking at classic flavours, folk aesthetics, and time-honoured craftsmanship to bring out traditional and cultural Chinese elements with a modern twist.


Interested to learn more about the rising importance of celebrating one’s own cultural heritage in China? Join us at our upcoming Top Trends in China Webinar, where our team of expert analysts will discuss how brands can tap into China’s rich heritage to engage consumers through three key aspects: flavour, aesthetic, and craftsmanship.

Date: Tuesday, 22 October 2019
Time: 3-4pm CST

Click here to sign up.
*Conducted in Mandarin