THE JAPANESE chain Uniqlo that, thanks to its HeatTech underwear, is market leader in thermal innerwear wherever it operates, announced that it would enter the Belgian market in the autumn of 2015. It plans to open its first store there in Antwerp, making the country its fifth market in Europe, after the UK, France, Spain and Germany. Earlier, the chain had launched a major promotion campaign in Paris to support the sales growth of HeatTech underwear in the French capital. Starting on November 13 and until November 23, Uniqlo is distributing 10’000 free vouchers to consumers shopping in the largest Paris street markets. The vouchers are valid until 30 November for exchange in the local Uniqlo store for a free- HeatTech T-shirt worth EUR 14,90.
The Paris give-away promotion highlights the faith of Uniqlo in the effectiveness of its thermal underwear. It is betting that word of mouth recommendations by wearers of the free garments will generate more sales than the same investment made in traditional advertising. In fact, the risk is minimal: a comparable promotion in London some years ago was highly successful at establishing HeatTech as market leader in the UK.