Retail notes from Singapore: [Company Profile] The Daiso empire

Ever so slightly off topic (since Daiso’s not a Singaporean company) but what the heck, it’s my blog and I can write whatever I like!
So now you’ll be hearing about one of my favourite Asian retail chains ever: Japanese household goods discounter chain Daiso. I discovered Daiso during my first trip to Japan (well, my first trip to Japan as an adult) and immediately became a fan.

Daiso sells products from almost every product category (except fashion): kitchenware, health and beauty, bathroom stuff, outdoor and gardening tools, storage and cleaning supplies, stationery, confectionery, accessories, snacks and drinks, toys and pet care. As well as a thousand other things. Check out their online site: Daiso Japan Online Store.

In the Japanese Daiso stores every product costs just 100 (daiso) Yen. The prices in local currency differ, of course; at the Singaporean Daiso stores, for example, products are priced at 2 SGD, in Thailand they are 60 THB and so on.

 Only in Asia

One reason why I like Daiso so much is that they retail many gadgets which are designed to maximise space and storage possibilities (also, they are cute and colourful and stylish!). After all, Japan is a very overcrowded country and living space is at a premium, especially in the urban areas. Most Japanese flats are tiny compared to European housing so the Japanese tend to be skilled at making the most of small spaces and keeping things tidy.

At Daiso you’ll find things like ingenious multipurpose hooks or foldable storage units. Or single-use paper coffee filters. Collapsible laundry hampers or colanders. Cable tidys. Or a huge range of travel sized plastic containers for creams and lotions (I’m a BIG fan of these!!). Many of the products I’ve picked up at different Daisos over the years I’ve never seen in Europe.

A force to be reckoned with

Daiso has over 2500 stores in Japan, ranging from small outlets in train stations over big stores in shopping malls to gigantic stand-alone megastores. Some of the Daiso Japan outlets have retail spaces of 5000-6000 sqm (!). In Japan there are several 100-yen store chains but Daiso is by far the biggest retailer.

Over the last ten years the company has been expanding like crazy across the Asia Pacific region. Their first international store was opened in Taiwan in 2000 and since then Daiso has entered Indonesia, Singapore, Malaysia, Hong Kong, the Philippines, Vietnam, Macau, Thailand and Korea. There are also stores in New Zealand and New Caledonia, in the US and Mexico, the Middle East and even in Romania.

Go west?

I think it is just a matter of time before they hit Western Europe. The Daiso product line-up would be a pretty big seller in Germany and probably the other countries in the region as well. And of course the Japanese/Asian heritage is an added bonus, translating into instant popularity (Germans love Japanese food and culture!).

Although Germany has several indigenous 1-Euro-Store chains – one of the biggest retailers is McGeiz – these are usually distinctly depressing discounter stores (how is that for alliteration!), selling cheap-looking, ugly products. Very unlike the colourful and ‘kawaiiiii’ Daiso stores!

If Daiso sticks with its traditional retail strategy in Europe, items would be priced at around 1 Euro or 1,50 Euro. And I think German customers would be more than happy to pay this for cool kitchen gadgets, Japanese porcelain bowls or green tea.

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Filed under Brand Profiles, Retail, Travel, Trends

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