Chinese people are busy with preparations for the Mid-Autumn Festival, and merchants want to take advantage of the period. However, Japanese brand Muji has encountered troubles due to a statement on Weibo that caused strong dissatisfaction among some Chinese consumers.
Muji described the location of a planned event using the term "French Concession" in a 10 September post, which caused immediate dissatisfaction among some netizens.
As of today, the Weibo topic #无印良品道歉# has reached 380 million views, with 12,000 discussions.
Muji posted a comment on a page about the event on the Pear Video platform, saying that it had no intention to harm national emotions or disrespect Chinese culture and history. The brand also deleted the Weibo post and cancelled the event.
However, it has not yet made a public apology on its official Weibo channel. Many people have left comments under the first product advertisement on the official Weibo channel. "Does official blog have no apology?" asked one incredulous consumer. Another stated, "I won’t buy your products again".
The Weibo post instructed people coming to the event to "turn right at the French Concession red light” and said the event would involve "jogging among the sycamore trees in the French Concession".
A user called 桃花剑神邓太阿 said "The concession is accompanied by the aggressor. This is not a good word". Whle a user called 史前的伊蚊 said "This is a history, a history of shame".
However, others have observed that even locals sometimes use the historical term for that area of Shanghai.
Muji may be encountering more public pressure due an incident last year, when it sold goods that were marked with Taiwan as the country of origin. The brand was fined RMB200,000 (about US$28,000) by the Shanghai Municipal Administration for Industry and Commerce.
Muji is not alone among international brands being pressed to apologise for various mistakes in recent months.