Japanese lifestyle brand MUJI recently opened its largest flagship store in Asia. Located in Shanghai, the new store is a three-story space that houses clothes, furniture, travel accessories, education-related products, a coffee shop and even a hotly anticipated MUJI bookstore. There is also an experience space called Open MUJI where consumers can read and brands can run workshops and seminars. The whole store is decorated in MUJI’s simplistic and wooden signature style. Overall, the MUJI store is a destination that encompasses an array of experiences including shopping, dining and reading alongside areas to socialise.

Experience matters

Nowadays Chinese consumers are craving more tangible experiences in the real world, rather than simply doing everything online. According to Mintel research, 67% of Chinese consumers agree that it is pleasant to spend as much time as possible wandering around shopping malls. The same report found that almost half visit shopping malls when they want to go for a day out, and 44% do so when they are looking for entertainment. MUJI’s new flagship store provides a perfect place for experience-seeking consumers to spend their weekends.

Experience is indeed a trendy element for retailers to integrate in their future store strategy. In China, we are seeing a rising number of retailers and brands transforming stores into places of entertainment and socializing. For example in Suzhou, Chengpin (Eslite) bookstore opened Chengpin Life which integrates books, entertainment and department stores. What’s more, Korean beauty brand Innisfree opened Asia’s largest flagship store in downtown Shanghai, which promotes selling more than just cosmetics.

In order to grow sustainably with the experiential concept, retailers should aim to develop out-of-the-box experiences whilst ensuring that activities are relevant to their key brand values.

Philix Liu is a Trends Analyst for the APAC region and is based in Shanghai. His area of focus includes innovation, creative marketing campaigns, new design and other trends related content. He also helps inspire brands and agencies on-site to innovate in the APAC region.