Image: Culture Trip
Some of us have experienced what is like to shop at Zara, the most trendy clothing store available; and some of us know about its business model, but few of us have really experienced how Zara works out of stores, specially with not very appealing designs. Most importantly, how did they educated customers?
A Little bit about Inditex
Group Inditex was founded by Amancio Ortega in Coruña (Spain), before opening the retail giant, he worked at Confeciones GOA, a small workshop focused on women dresses. This guided Mr. Amancio to open the first Zara store back in 1975, with a simple concept “bringing customers closer than ever to the products they want, all at an affordable price.” (-Inditex, 2021)
The business model is simple, manufacturing less than the estimated demand; this allows them to significantly reduce sales and keep inventory moving quickly all the time. This has two main outcomes: First, not all stores will be able to get all designs; second, customers started to realize that they (literally) needed to buy whatever they liked quickly or miss it, and will never come back.
At first, customers started to get angry… After all “the customer is always right”, correct? Well, Zara employees are trained to say no to customers! But they say it in a very polite way that makes you feel like a late adapter; for example “Oh so sorry! that was from last season, but we have the new season available for you”. Nobody wants to buy something from last season, they are basically telling you to catch up.
Whats so great about fast fashion?
Some of you might ask yourselves, whats so great about a store that forces you to buy what they want and not what you want? And the answer is quite simple, because Zara is telling you what to like, they don’t ask for trends, they are the trend. Many of you might not noticed that Zara does not have its logo on almost any article, this is due to brand perception. In other words, clothing is cool… but nobody wants to say it’s from Zara, the idea is for you to feel like you are wearing a luxury brand without actually having to pay for it.
That sounds great until you step in a world where brands actually matter, our fast fashion pioneer has lots of trouble due to brand perception. Its like the cheap version of premium clothing, and by “cheap” I don’t mean inexpensive, I mean cheap.
How does its model affect customer behaviour?
Customers around the world tend to think as Zara as a “never miss”; you know that you will find something to wear for any occasion, but sometimes price tags at Zara can get really close to designer’s originals (on premium collection). What really matters is: If I don’t buy it now, will I be able to get it later? If it’s an inexpensive shirt or jumper, most likely the customer will buy it, but a $500 coat? That’s when fast fashion simply does not make the cut; for a higher price, customers tend to look for better quality brands and confection. Here is a summary of the main Inditex brands:
Bershka – Youth oriented aging 15-25, mid income and casual wear.
Stradivarius – Youth oriented ages 15-25, mid-high range income with casual and imaginative style.
Pull & Bear – Youth oriented men and woman ages 15-30, mid-high range income youthful and fashionable.
Massimo Duty – Men and women ages 25-50, with business-casual interests with mid-high income and cultural interests.
Zara – Men and woman aging 18-40 years, mid-range income very fashion forward and conscious which live in urban areas.
Fast fashion downfall, QUALITY?
Zara is known to be trendy, up to date, accessible (for the most part), and fast moving. But anyone that buys for first time, starts to identify confection mistakes or issues, it is not uncommon for cloths to tear apart, unsew, decolor, the zippers to break and buttons to pop-out. This is known by customers and they treat clothes as such, even there is a popular phrase in Spanish “Zara is meant to be worn only twice”, and it is true.
Zara has serious trouble regarding quality, pollution and most recently, pricing. For Zara Home, they launched a natural Loofah priced in ~$20 CAD (MXN $299), when it actually costs ~$1 CAD (MXN $15). Obviously, consumers did not missed it and memes went wild.
Images: Zara Home / Facebook
Yes, they steal designs
You must not be surprised, lots of companies do. One of Zara’s main competitor in Mexico (one of its most important markets) is Liverpool, a retail store which each year, their buyers travel all around the world for “trends”, but literally just buy designer clothing and reproduce a cheaper version of it. As a former employee, it was one of the reasons why I quitted.
But Zara has a much more sophisticated method, they actually go to the fashion shows from many designers, take pictures of the catwalk, have minimum modifications to protect themselves from getting sued, and actually launch the collection before the original designer!
Trinny Woodall, a customer educator
The creator of “Closet Confessions” has a lot to say about clothes. A TV presenter, entrepreneur, fashion and makeover expert creates content for everyday women; this has really leveraged Zara’s perception with in-store tutorials into new collections and how to buy. Though her main social network communication is basically teach customers how to dress, it is truly amazing how she can turn a ugly peace of clothing into something fresh and modern. On her videos, she invites and promotes women from all shapes and sized to try new looks promoting creativity on their wardrobes.
Her videos go from how to choose clothing (most of the time she completely modifies everything to create amazing silhouettes), to accessories, makeup and shoes. The best part is that all of her videos have amazing topics like coats, nude colours, sequins, shades of grey, bubble gum pink suits, key pillars of successful wardrobe, and many more!
Images: Trinnity Woodall’s Facebook
Yours truly, Monsieur Marketing.
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