Since Zara’s launch in 1975, it has become one of the most sought after high-street stores to date. Unlike similar brands such as H&M and Topshop, Zara focuses on the clothing designs and in-store experience as the principal appeal to consumers, spending only 0.3% of sales on advertising per year compared to its competitors, who on average will spend around 3.5%.
When you think of a Zara store, minimalism always springs to mind. The stores present an evident “visual language”, in which the elements include plain white walls, scenic lighting and visual merchandising featuring mannequins against neutral backdrops; all contributing to the consistency of the brand as a whole. Additionally, Intidex ensures the stores are always in prime locations, emphasizing their desire to be considered a more upmarket and exclusive brand.
The brand’s extremely impressive turnaround time, quick response policy and just-in-time manufacture aim to popularize fashion by taking the most recent trends off the runway and generating them into affordable items in their stores; Zara thrives off the idea that their clothing is affordable, yet appears to be the same quality as a luxury brand. Customer-orientation is a large part of the Zara concept, an extremely efficient logistics system enables store managers to quickly communicate with designers and request specific garments that are on high demand, and thus each store is tailored to its own customer base.
Zara brings the power of advertising into question. Their obvious lack of communication within the media proves that a brand is able to lead without drastically using advertisements to persuade consumers to buy their products; as opposed to Marc Jacobs and other fashion brands that rely on the media to continue their global success. Although Zara largely avoids promoting itself, the brand has gained enormous media coverage from online bloggers, celebrity fans, and online magazines, which all contribute to its widespread recognition and enable its products to remain highly desirable. For Zara to become fully established as a global brand, however, Zara may need to alter some of their promotional aspects so consumers are more exposed to their products and brand identity.
It appears that with the growth of social media, consumers are trusting advertising less and are more influenced by online word-of-mouth and customer recommendation. Due to this recent phenomenon, many companies are looking at other ways to promote their brand, for example in 2012 Topshop recruited Justin Cooke as their new Chief Marketing Officer to assist plans to turn itself into a global brand. Having previously been vice-president of public relations at Burberry for 7 years, this could suggest that Topshop may increase its use of public relations as a central promotional tool, instead of print and digital advertisements . Zara is therefore at the forefront of progression within the fashion industry, as they already disregard advertising as a key instrument of their brand strategy.
The success of Zara’s distribution strategy is also triggering other high-street brands, such as H&M and Gap, to follow in its “fast fashion” footsteps. Furthermore, luxury brands now have around 4-6 collections per year, suggesting the importance of rapid progression within a fashion brand to be credible within today’s society, an aspect of a brand strategy that Zara most certainly do not need to be concerned about.