#PRAwards highlight: How UNIQLO charged into the Vietnam market

UNIQLO is a well-known brand in Southeast Asia, but it wasn't always the case in Vietnam. Together with its appointed PR agency Galaxy Communications, the fashion brand launched an extensive campaign to mark its entrance into the Vietnam market in 2019. The campaign won UNIQLO and Galaxy Communications the bronze award for "Best PR-led Integrated Communications" in Marketing's and A+M's PR Awards 2020. Here's a look at how the fashion brand made a bold charge into the Vietnam market, and managed to gain awareness and social buzz.

Challenge

UNIQLO had planned to enter the Vietnam market in the end of 2019 with the first store located in Ho Chi Minh City. However, there is much pressure for a successful launch of UNIQLO in Vietnam for both the client and agency teams, not only in terms of financial indexes, but also a must-win battle for brand share of voice, social buzz and public awareness, given the aggressive competition from other well-established clothing brands such as ZARA or H&M which already have a presence.

In terms of PR and communications, it is critical that UNIQLO to become a brand that resonates with the people in Vietnam and, in the long-term future, becomes meaningful in the everyday life of the customers across the country. It is particularly important for UNIQLO to show clearly how its unique concept, LifeWear, can sit naturally within Vietnamese style and culture to become a complementary and essential part of any wardrobe. However, the apparel retailing market in Vietnam has been mostly influenced by the young millennials who are always in the search for trendy fashion. They are fascinated by stylish design, latest global trend and celebrities’ glamourous endorsement.

Strategy

UNIQLO then tapped on Galaxy Communicatios to devise a strategic communications plan that can bring the LifeWear concept to customers in the most effective and newsworthy way, while educating and redirecting the market attention to this whole new concept in clothing. It was critical for UNIQLO to step out from the perception of fast fashion and to establish a solid understanding about the brand with simplicity, quality and longevity in Vietnam market.

Creating noise and arousing excitement among media and public audience in order to drive traffic to UNIQLO’s new store opening is also a challenging task for communications team to accomplish.

In the seven-month campaign, UNIQLO and Galaxy Communications ran the campaign on three key channels: PR/media relations, social engagement with influencers, and event management.

The core objectives for the campaign were to:

  1. Establish first concrete foundation of media relation for UNIQLO in Vietnam, create and maintain strong relationships with key journalists, influencers and key opinion leaders across various segments, brief them about the brand and its representative values.
  2. Build understanding of UNIQLO as an apparel brand with a totally new concept, known as LifeWear to Vietnamese media and customers.
  3. Make UNIQLO first store arrival in Vietnam the talk of town by leveraging and maximising the power of digital and social media.

Observing the current fashion shopping habits and dressing styles of Vietnamese people, which does not place importance on clothes’ comfort and its functional values of quality and longevity, UNIQLO and Galaxy Communications decided to approach the market with a single-minded direction: to elevate Vietnamese dressing style with a mind-changing perspective to practical fashion with LifeWear from UNIQLO, which is its brand of essential clothing woven from innovative technology in fabric, best fit with simple yet elegance design and made to be accessible to all.

To deliver this message to public audience and target customers, the brand and agency mapped all relevant communications channels to find out the most effective touch-points to communicate and influence them, in which media relations and Influencer engagement on social media would be the key strikes. The campaign started in May and led up to the store opening day of UNIQLO in the first week of December 2019.

In terms of media relations, UNIQLO and Galaxy Communications started its first outreach activities with targeted journalists and reporters seven months prior to the launch with small selected and elite groups, while continuing to widen and strengthen its network with more local media until the opening day.

In terms of Influencer engagement, aligning with UNIQLO’s ambassador strategy, UNIQLO and Galaxy Communications created and developed a concrete plan to identify, collaborate and leverage suitable influencers on social media who share the same values with UNIQLO and the LifeWear philosophy, in order to collectively contribute to raising and maintaining brand visibility among a wide-ranging audience starting in pre-opening and through to post-opening phases.

Additionally, with the aim to create newsworthy materials and assets for the campaign, offline events in different formats such as exhibition, press conference, cocktail party were put into the integrated plan as the key hooks and milestones to mark UNIQLO’s journey to enter Vietnam.

Execution

  1. Media tour to UNIQLO headquarters in May

The brand and agency created initial engagement with two top-notch media in Vietnam, both print and online media, by impressing them with the company’s head quarter. The tour succeeded in enriching media understanding about UNIQLO’s brand stories and generate in-depth content from their own interest toward the brand.

  1. LifeWear day in London in September

Four fashion editors from top key media were invited to one of the biggest annual global events of UNIQLO, where the collections of LifeWear were brought onto the runway.  They were impressed by the philosophy of LifeWear which had resulted in seven editorials about UNIQLO and LifeWear.

  1. An introduction to LifeWear in Vietnam in November

Organised by Galaxy Communications, a special exhibition was set up as the first official media outreach activity of UNIQLO with local media in Vietnam. Through presentations from senior UNIQLO representatives and a series of engaging installations across themed zones, the brand successfully demonstrated how LifeWear is its constant pursuit of innovation, quality, value and sustainability for UNIQLO customers. This expo attracted over 65 local media and more than 90 influencers to come and spreading out the LifeWear spirit on their own channels.

  1. Mapping photo contest in November

The first engaging activity from UNIQLO with target audience on social media was an online contest where fans were encouraged to post and share their photos, experience with UNIQLO and together mapping a mosaic of Vietnam. The activity was kicked off from a group of more than 30 influencers and had spread out to more than 300 participants from the social fans.

  1. Product sampling with influencers in November

In order to gradually blend the LifeWear dressing style to Vietnamese audience daily life, UNIQLO had more than 30 Influencers helped to showcase how they can mix and match the perfect outfit with UNIQLO, which in total generated thousands of interactions and comments, sharing their love for LifeWear philosophy and their anticipation toward UNIQLO’s store opening day.

  1. Pre-opening press conference on 6 December

The press conference was the official introduction of the very first UNIQLO’ store in Vietnam. It saw the participation of Tadashi Yanai, UNIQLO founder, with more than 90 local reporters, 20 international media, over 100 celebrities and influencers joining the event, which resulted in massive media coverage on diversified content angles, from fashion to business.

  1. Store opening Day on 7 December

The ending note of the campaign was marked by the grand opening event at UNIQLO’s Dong Khoi Store in HCMC, which saw a huge amount of people queuing up in front of the store in just the first day. The stunning news was massively covered and shared on 60 plus local media, including national broadcasting channels, print and online media.

uniqlo opening 2

Results

The launch of UNIQLO in Vietnam became the talk of the town when it was able to generate massive media coverage, endless social discussions from not only Influencers but also from the customers, attract people coming to the store in the first one day.

Through the campaign, UNIQLO managed to get 435 news, which exceeded its set KPIs by 310%, and 177 editorials, which exceeded its set KPIs by 221%. It also managed to engage over a hundred influencers.

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