MUJI

No brand quality goods

Monday 3 June 2013, by Diana

3 inspired

Why this company?

Keep it simple. Muji is a retail company that provides a variety of reasonably priced products made out of quality and durable materials designed to make life easier. Instead of giving priority to brand or additional marketing elements, they focus in purpose and performance of the products. They do not offer things that they don’t believe that add value for the client, such as: fancy packing. Muji is an outstanding company that decided to defy how things where “supposed” to be done. What usually happens to the packaging after the product is extracted it is thrown away. Thus, by simplifying the package and using, when possible, recycling materials, they are contributing to the environment.

A. The main facts about the activities of the company.

Mujirushi (no-brand) Ryōhin (quality goods).

Understanding the trend to look for simplicity in daily life, Muji appeared with an alternative of useful and simple products. They started in 1980 offering, through a supermarket chain (“The Seiyu, Ltd), 9 household products and more than 30 foods. The concept being: “selection of materials”, “streamlining processes” and “simplification of packaging”. In 1983 they opened their own store, and by 1991 they were opening a store in United Kingdom. By December of 2012, they were present in a variety of European and Asian countries and in the United States.

On the core of their design is ‘Kanketzu’- “ concept of simplicity” aiming to “bring a quiet sense of calm into strenuous everyday lives”. Furthermore, they are environmentally oriented. By reducing packaging and simplyfing their production process, they are able to reduce wastes. Their strategy can be stated as: offering high quality products that are basic and necessary at lower than usual prices.

B. The Ethical challenges this company is addressing.

The retail industry faces ethical challenges in:
a) source and quality of the materials used,
b) in the manufacturing process
c)in the pricing of the final goods.
d) Waste reduction
e) Energy efficiency

Muji has to face competition that has access to materials, of different quality, but at potentially lower prices The manufacturing process involves the decision of in-home production or outsourcing. In both cases it raises the concerns of employees’ satisfaction and quality conditions of the work environment. Finally the product can be marketed and sell at different prices. A common practice in the retail industry is the use of fancy packaging that complemented with sounded marketing result in a product priced higher than could have been.

C. What makes you believe this company is really ethical and why you trust it?

"Sustainability through simplicity"

It is not about creating a need in the customer, rather solved a previously existing concern. The company’s purpose is to offer quality products that are made from appropriated materials, recycled when possible. The manufacturing process is performed with an streamline process, thus reducing unnecessary processes. The packaging is as simple as possible, since they are selling the product, not the package. The design of the product is such that no additional prices are to be paid by the client, others than the functionality of the product itself.

Regarding product development the company focuses on: a)problem solving through design, b)Examination of materials and c)simplification of packaging. Even more, for the manufacturing the company follows 3 principles:a) quality standards, b)code of conduct for business partners, c)materials to be eliminated.

Keeping in mind their objective of creating a pleasant life: "harmony with our neighbours and our planet", the company is concerned with facing global challenges and has develop a 41-points plan. Among the initiatives are waste reduction, examination of materials and processes and simplification of packaging which are in the core of their business. The rest of the initiatives are comprehensive of different categories:conservation of natural resources, safety and security, respect and harmony and global warming

D.The possible challenges facing the company in the future and how you think this company may improve.

The increasing shift in consumers’ behavior might lead competitors to imitate their strategy. However, Muji’s strategy is integrally planned involving every part of the process to offer a final quality and well-valued product. If the competitors really manage to imitate the process, they will have been responsible for improving the product offer, and probably will represent that the customer base will also have grown. One of the clue abilities of Muji has been innovation to address complicated everyday life issues to the offer of product that will help to make them easier. If the company continues to offer a conscious an integrated process with innovative design, they will find new markets to explore.

The manufacturing is performed in China, Indonesia and Vietnam. Alhtough the company has a code of conduct for the business partners, these countries have controversial business practices. A challenge for Muji is to mantain a strong vigilance of the working conditions they want to guarantee in the development of their products.

Furthermore, the company has a strong focus on quality materials, and is using recycled materials when possible, but are making use of plastic and polyester which are unsustainable materials. A salient challenge for the company is to find alternative materials to use for their products.

Their plan to "create a pleasant life" is comprehensive and challenging. To pursue their innitiatives the company will have to remain commited to its goal. As new innitiatives they are planning to introduce additional energy saving measures to their headquarters.

Bibliography

http://www.triplepundit.com/2011/12/muji-makes-brand-sexy-consumers/
http://www.muji.eu
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Muji
http://ecosalon.com/behind-the-label-muji/
http://ryohin-keikaku.jp/eng/csr/list40.html

Location: Japan

Sector: Manufacturing

Official website: http://www.muji.com/

Key figures:

Number of locations 181 (2008)
Products
Household goods
Kitchen utensil
Fashion
Stationery
Electronics
Home appliances
Cosmetics
Food
Furniture

Nbr. visits: 5121

Nbr. inspires: 3