Retail in Asia


MINISO receives criticism for labeling Chinese cheongsam toys as Japanese geishas

A branch of MINISO in Spain has apologized for misinterpreting the Chinese cheongsam toy as a Japanese geisha toy. A statement on MINISO Spain’s Instagram account takes accountability for the brand’s mistake regarding the launch of the Disney Princess blind box products on 25 July.

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“After receiving the users’ feedback, we removed the post instantly. We sincerely apologise for this misunderstanding and we will reflect on the damage this has caused to our Chinese friends and all MINISO fans,” said the company in its statement.

The statement also recognises the origin of cheongsam in Chinese culture. According to the company, the brand admires the long history of China and its splendid cultural achievements. “In the future, MINISO Spain will strengthen and educate our team to ensure that we deliver the right cultural value to the public, and bring better products and consumption experience to our consumers,” the company announced in an official statement.

Social media channels have been flooded with mentions of the incident. There were a total of 35% negative mentions on keywords related to “miniso”, “geisha”, and “qipao” that were monitored by social monitoring company CARMA.

Source: Miniso Spain

Netizens have however shifted their focus beyond MINISO mistaking Chinese qipao dolls for Japanese geisha as a result of the incident. “Many disagreed with the brand’s approach to package itself as a Japanese brand in order to increase sales opportunities,” commented Charles Cheung, General Manager at CARMA. In addition, Cheung said the most engaged comment on MINISO’s official Weibo post generated 9900 engagements.

The Chinese media organization published a commentary on 10 August saying: “MINISO, this kind of mistake can’t be made”. Several questions remain unanswered. For instance, the commentary questioned why MINISO responded to the translation with a smile emoji rather than correcting it immediately following controversies.

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The brand has been subjected to controversies in the recent past. Earlier this month, MINISO had to defend its position after Blue Orca Capital published an allegation that MINISO lied about its core business model. As stated in MINISO’s public announcement, the retailer believes that the report contains misleading conclusions and interpretations regarding the company. The company also announced that its directors and audit committee will review the allegations and determine how to proceed.