Japanese specialty-store retailer of private-label apparel, Uniqlo, has outlets around the globe, but their expansion in the U.S. market has seemingly stalled. Since 2005 the retailer has had a presence in the United States, first with several mall locations before it switched to using flagship stores as a market entry strategy. As such, flagships now dot fashion-forward areas, including in New York’s SoHo district, San Francisco’s Union Square, and Chicago’s Michigan Avenue; the chain also opened an 89,000-square-foot global flagship along Manhattan’s famed Fifth Avenue. Despite growth that saw locations increase from one U.S. store in 2011 to several dozen stores by 2017, Fast Retailing, Uniqlo’s parent company, has been struggling to turn a profit in the United States, which resulted in the closure of some suburban stores.
This case study implores students to think about why Uniqlo might have a strong base of support in urban areas but has trouble moving into more suburban locations. Further, it asks students to devise promotional strategies that might allow Uniqlo to introduce itself into smaller markets.