American Kawaii


Translating a retail fashion brand for any new market goes far beyond discerning attitudes and motivations. It requires a nuanced understanding of culture and identity.

When Gap, Inc. decided to take its Old Navy brand into Japan, the world's third-largest apparel market, there was no doubt that existing assumptions about a very different retail environment needed to be stress-tested. With Old Navy's "fun and casual American" positioning already deployed in 1,000+ US stores, this first international expansion would truly test the viability of the brand.

Greenberg's experience in Japan and other Asian markets provided a critical knowledge base for helping the Old Navy team tease out cultural patterns and align with the Japanese mindset. Our proprietary integration of ethnographic and quantitative methodologies supported Gap, Inc. in adjusting its thinking, retail design, and product configuration to Japanese expectations. 

From the pre-launch of the inaugural store in Tokyo, through to nationwide rollout, the results of our multi-wave research program provided essential insights for development and refinement at each stage of the program.

Ultimately, our work has provided a road map for the 50+ stores that will be open by the end of 2014, and for the broader Asian expansion ahead.

For more on how Gap, Inc. is shaping the future of clothing retail, click here.

Kawaii is the notion of cuteness that has become a hallmark of Japanese culture, cutting across generations, gender, commerce, and media. The success of Old Navy's fun, colorful attitude is, in part, due to its compelling take on this uniquely Japanese trait.