Japanese minimalist household and consumer goods retailer Muji will open its second planned hotel, in Japan’s Ginza shopping district, to open in the spring of 2019; a ground-breaking ceremony was held June 19, according to a company press release.
Muji is also developing its first hotel in China in Shenzhen to open this fall, according to news and culture website Spoon & Tamago.
Muji opened its first U.S. store in 2007, followed later by a U.S. e-commerce site, and it has since expanded.
In an era when retailers are attempting to figure out how to leverage stores and provide an enhanced customer experience to promote sales both online and off, this is a route with great potential: Muji's hotel guests will be able to buy furniture, decor and other goods they see and like based on first-hand interactions and experiences. Muji’s hotel in Japan will take up the 6th to 10th floors of the building, with retail on the other floors, according to a press release.
The move is a smart play off of shopper behaviors. According to the Retail Dive Consumer Survey, 62% of customers choose to visit stores in order to see, touch and feel products. The hotel might hold a special appeal for millennials as well, who prefer spending on experiences. By allowing customers to try out products in an environment that they might realistically use them in, Muji could satisfy both of those needs and lead to more foot traffic as a result.
Furniture retailer West Elm made a similar move into the hospitality space in September, with the announcement of branded hotels to open in late 2018 in Detroit, Minneapolis, Savannah, GA, Charlotte, NC and Indianapolis, with more sites planned for the future. The hotel rooms and common areas will incorporate design elements from their local communities to “reflect traditional décor, handicraft, cuisine and culture from the region,” West Elm said. Guests will also be able to purchase furnishings and artwork found in any room online.
Such boutique hotels, often smaller spaces with decor that reflects more idiosyncratic takes of their designers (frequently tied to local artists and tastes), are increasingly in demand. Boutique hotels have grown in number by 24% over the past six years, but still represent a small percentage — just 2% — of hotels, according to data from analytics company STR.