Miniso has opened its 100th store in the United States and fosters big U.S. growth ambitions as it pursues nationwide expansion that establishes itself as a major lifestyle brand across a range of categories, including housewares and home décor.
Right now, the China-based retail company has more of a profile as a plush toy and novelty item seller. However, it offers more than that, including storage, décor, hydration and tabletop items consistent with its intention of capturing younger consumers and satisfying occasion-based and everyday lifestyle needs.
Miniso builds stores around eight core product categories, such as Home ‘N Kitchen and others that incorporate home goods, including Fitness ‘N Lifestyle. Miniso’s ambition is not to be just a brand for kids but also to become a touchstone retailer that consumers can revisit as they mature and reconnect with as they have their own families, themselves and gifts.
Store assortments change constantly to establish the treasure hunt sensibility, always emphasizing providing a fun shopping experience as part of what the company calls its “Joy Philosophy.” Key to Miniso’s promotional strategy are licensed products, with lineups under the Barbie, Disney and Sanrio brands, Hello Kitty being a prominent Sanrio property.
Blind boxes are another promotional vehicle. With mystery contents, blind boxes are popular for self-purchase and gifts. For the holidays, a Miniso Blind Box Car delivered the mystery packages across New York City. The event featured dancing Santas hauling sacks full of blind boxes. Miniso gave out 3,000 with merchandise containing a variety of products, including licensed items. The New York City promotion was part of Miniso’s international Blind Box Carnival.
In May, Miniso advanced its store network and profile by opening a flagship location in New York’s Times Square and touting its goal of operating at least 100 U.S. stores by the end of 2023. Miniso achieved that goal in early December last year when it introduced its 100th U.S. store, a 2,080-square-foot location in Orlando’s Florida Mall. The store debuted in time for the year-end holidays with a specially devised festive pink shopping theme.
Miniso characterizes the U.S. as a directly operated market, which means the company is opening new company-owned stores, although it does offer franchises. While the company is prioritizing the United States, the proportion of stores operated in the U.S. is small when considered part of Miniso’s global footprint. As of September 30, 2023, Miniso operated 6,115 stores worldwide, including 2,313 outside China.
Tyrone Li, U.S. General Manager, Miniso
Tyrone Li, Miniso’s U.S. general manager, described the importance of the 100th store in an interview with HomePage News during the recent holidays.
HomePage News: What is the significance of Miniso’s 100th store opening to the company and the growth plans in the United States?
Li: The opening of Miniso’s 100th store in the U.S. signifies another milestone in our brand’s global journey. It not only serves as a strong testament to our expansion efforts and thriving development in the U.S. market, but it also stands as validation of our global expansion strategy. Our focus is to make Miniso’s products easily accessible to consumers across the U.S.
This achievement is also the most compelling evidence of our progress since entering the U.S. market in 2017, where we’ve experienced rapid growth. Despite having only 100 stores in the U.S., constituting just 4% of our non-mainland China stores, the U.S. has become one of Miniso’s primary direct markets globally in terms of revenue contribution.
HPN: Has the company developed a set plan for the next phase of expansion? Has a timetable been set for U.S. store openings?
Li: Currently, Miniso has established a presence in over 20 states in the U.S., with over 40 stores in California alone. The majority of our stores are on the East and West Coasts, and we have plans to further expand into a total of 35 states. Next year, we aim to accelerate our expansion with great ambition. In the latter half of this year, we have expedited our store opening pace, with nearly ten new stores opened in November alone.
Moving forward, we plan to enter more high-potential commercial districts, such as Fifth Avenue in New York City.
HPN: Will Miniso continue to focus on specific geographies going forward or will it continue to open stores broadly across the U.S.?
Li: Our goal is to establish a widespread presence across the U.S., particularly in the core business districts and malls of major cities in each state. We aim to open high-traffic stores in prime locations like the ones in Times Square, Soho, Tangram [mall in Queens, NY], and recently opened ones in malls such as Florida Mall and Fashion Show. Currently, our stores are primarily situated along the coastal areas of economically active states, and we’re continuously entering more areas. Next, we plan to expand our footprint into more cities in the central U.S.
HPN: What has Miniso learned about the U.S. market since the company entered it that the company has put into practice?
Li: About 70% to 80% of Miniso’s products in global stores are similar, while 20% to 30% are tailored based on local market preferences and trends. To better meet the U.S. consumers’ needs, our global product team develops localized products guided by insights into local consumer behavior. Given higher overall income levels and stronger purchasing power, U.S. consumers are more inclined to pay for niche products and value brand image. We’re also gradually establishing our brand image globally, particularly in the U.S., by offering high-quality products. Our goal is to position Miniso as a trendy lifestyle brand, the go-to choice when consumers would like to purchase daily lifestyle products.
The United States is the world’s largest market for IP-driven consumer trends, and Miniso stands out for leading interest-driven consumption through IP designs. We’ve partnered with over 80 IP licensors. The sales of co-branded products have made a more significant contribution to the total sales in the U.S. market.
Our toys and snacks are very popular in the U.S., with plush toys and blind boxes witnessing significant market growth. We’re prioritizing the development of the toy category and plan to collaborate with more local IP partners in the future to create toys that resonate even more with local consumers.
Miniso Pink Christmas Village in Orlando, Florida
HPN: Has the company seen its shopper base expand in the U.S. as it has expanded? Has the demographic mix changed?
Li: Our global consumers are mainly the younger generation, especially Gen Z. As Miniso continues to grow in the U.S., we’re not only expanding our reach geographically but also connecting with a more diverse range of consumers.
We’re putting a lot of effort into categories that appeal to young consumers, like IP collaborations and blind boxes. In our U.S. stores, blind boxes make up around 10% of our SKUs, showing our dedication to providing trendy lifestyle products for a broader audience of young people.
HPN: Has the product mix changed over the course of the expansion or is the idea to establish Miniso’s presence based on the initial product assortment at least through its next phase of expansion?
Li: Miniso has consistently focused on lifestyle products, and as we grow in the United States, we’re sticking to that foundation. Although we’ve recently been putting more emphasis on strategic categories like IP collaborations, blind boxes, and plush toys, our main focus in brand development remains firmly rooted in lifestyle products. We aim to bring consumers more fun, affordable and well-designed products, with the ultimate goal of becoming a globally recognized lifestyle super brand. This commitment will remain in the future.
HPN: How does the franchise model apply in the U.S.?
Li: The United States is our directly operated market, and currently, about 90% of our stores are running profitably. In 2023, even more stores opened in the U.S. Our stores managed to outperform 2022 by an impressive growth, which is a strong surge for us. Looking ahead to 2024, we expect an even greater increase in the number of stores compared to 2023.
HPN: Is Miniso looking at e-commerce operations in the future, and is it expecting the stores it has opened to set the stage for a digital business undertaking in the U.S.?
Li: Building on Miniso’s brand positioning, our goal is to convey our Joy Philosophy to consumers through a seamless blend of store ambiance and product offerings. We also aim to accentuate the appealing and playful attributes of our products. In this phase, our focus is on allocating resources to enhance the overall quality of our in-store experience. However, we will also carefully expand our presence in various online channels to provide consumers with added convenience.
HPN: How important was the New York Times Square store in terms of boosting Miniso’s recognition in the U.S. market? What is the significance of the Orlando store and what does the company think it will bring to the company’s growth?
Li: As a globally renowned landmark with a massive footfall, Times Square provides Miniso with a prime opportunity for exposure. Opening a store here means increased visibility, with pedestrians and tourists likely to notice and step into our store, thereby boosting brand recognition among potential consumers. Times Square’s unique location and vibrant atmosphere also help reinforce Miniso’s image as a brand that’s not just trendy, fun and affordable but also resonates with the brand’s Joy Philosophy.
As the first Chinese consumer brand to establish a presence in Times Square, it represents our confidence and strength. Times Square ranks among the most expensive locations worldwide. The rents and operating costs of a store are high, and gaining recognition from local landlords and consumers is also crucial for establishing a presence here.
The Times Square flagship store saw a remarkable achievement on its opening day, with daily sales reaching nearly $80,000, an all-time sales record for Miniso globally. Since its launch in May, the store has consistently maintained an impressive monthly sales performance.
As mentioned earlier, our new store in Orlando’s Florida Mall, Miniso’s 100th store in the U.S., marks a significant milestone in Miniso’s six years of development in the country. It represents a stage of success and acknowledgment in the market.
The Orlando store, sporting a pink-themed design, is just the beginning. We plan to introduce more creatively themed stores in the U.S. market, enhancing our store atmosphere to connect better with consumers.