ZARA: MARKETING STRATEGY BEHIND THE CURTAIN

Without any doubt ZARA is a global fashion giant. Its success has been described in many books about business strategy.  If you google ZARA marketing or advertising strategy, you’ll find a lot of articles stating that ZARA does not spend money on advertising and “it hardly even has a marketing department” (The New York Times Magazine).

In fact, ZARA does have a very well-designed marketing strategy. ZARA knows who are its target auditorium, what its customers are willing to pay and expect to get. The only question is that this marketing strategy is very much “behind the curtain”. Let’s analyze ZARA’s main principles of marketing strategy:

1. Don’t hesitate to copy the best ideas

ZARA does not have time to develop new original models. Why invent a bicycle if there are so many top luxury fashion houses that invest in best designers and create new models? ZARA’s copying activity does not come unnoticed. Just in July 2016 ZARA was accused by Indie artist Tuesday Bassen for copying his designs.

Anyway ZARA’s marketing strategy is concentrated on making luxury design affordable to masses. Do you want Madonna’s outfit? Nothing is easy. Go to ZARA. They have already copied and produced it for you.

2. Create cheap copies

In simple words it can be expressed as “get a nice design implemented in 100% acrylic or polyester”. In my opinion, cheap fabrics spoil all the impression.

However, inexpensive raw materials and less attention to quality issues are the very necessity for ZARA if you want to be competitive in this particular niche and it seems that teenagers do not mind it, because they get an expensive-looking wardrobe without spending a ton. So sell cheap, but in large volumes is all about ZARA.

3. Be the fastest

ZARA want their customers to buy new clothes and change their wardrobes frequently. Therefore, they work like a giant fashion conveyer. ZARA copies design, sends it to the production factories located mainly in Morocco and Spain and within a week or so new collection is done.

In fact, ZARA is not a fashion house, it is a logistics company. Zara delivers new items twice each week to more than 1,600 stores throughout the world. Impressive, isn’t it?

4. Keep your enemies close

ZARA strictly follows this famous and very useful advice of Niccolo Machiavelli. May be their garments are inexpensive, but their large stores are always located in the very center of big cities next to top luxury brands, such as Gucci, Prada, Armani, etc.

5. Have many faces, i.e. localize your brand

If you happen to read about ZARA in business books and articles, you probably noticed that typically authors claim that ZARA has similar garments and positioning of the brand for all countries. This is not 100% truth.

I visited ZARA’s stores in various countries/ regions (France, Italy, Spain, Eastern Europe, India, Indonesia, the UAE) and came to the conclusion that ZARA adapts to local conditions and local mentality.

ZARA in Western Europe and ZARA in Eastern Europe is very different. Western Europe brand represents a casual look with more affordable assortment. While collections sold in Eastern Europe are more fashionable with higher prices. In Asia ZARA is working to integrate its main designs with local traditions and tastes.

As we can see all these principles combined represent a very smart marketing strategy – “Be luxurious and inexpensive, be global and local at the same time”  – and this is what makes ZARA different.

References:

  1. How Zara Grew Into World’s Largest Fashion Retailer. The New York Times Magazine: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/11/11/magazine/how-zara-grew-into-the-worlds-largest-fashion-retailer.html?pagewanted=1).
  2. Integrating country-specific culture in the branding strategy for building global success (empirical study). Alexandra IOANID, Petruta MIHAI, Romania Gheorghe MILITARU. University Politehnica of Bucharest, Romania. http://sea.bxb.ro/Article/SEA_5_49.pdf
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