The market trajectory is attributed to the varying dynamics, altered structural aspects and fluctuating needs of the consumers. Zara SA is an apparel retailing firm headquartered in Arteixo in Galicia. It specializes in a wide array of domains incorporating accessories, beauty products, clothing, perfumes, swimwear apparels and shoes. It is a subsidiary firm of the Inditex group in Spain. It was established in the year 1975 and currently operates around 2692 stores across the globe. It has robustly established itself in around 62 countries (Angkie, 2019).
Since its inauguration, Zara has the objective to provide premium luxury products. It has hence maintained its operations in the niche market. It has the objective to democratize luxury products. Zara’s clothing branch is loved and appreciated by the consumers in the fact that it brings unique and fresh designs in the market with premium quality and durability (Aftab, Yuanjian, Kabir & Barua, 2018). It is often regarded to as an alternative to the fashion industry. Its clothing apparels are its mainstream format for penetrating in the market.
In 2005, the company was also recognized as one of the world’s most valuable brands. Its value chain of the clothing apparels is vertically integrated. Its clothing products have managed to sustain a virtuous position in the market (Aftab, Yuanjian, Kabir & Barua, 2018). Also, its clothing products are close to market demands. Consumer behaviour is an analysis of the behaviour of the consumers towards a particular firm and product. Zara’s clothing products are appreciated and liked by the consumers.
Since the core value of Zara incorporates functionality and sustainability, consumers possess a positive approach towards the clothing products of Zara. Factors that influence the consumer behaviour regarding the Zara clothing apparels incorporate choosing between the competitors, defining different problems, attitude and persuasion, memory and knowledge, motivation and persuasion. This assessment envisages analysing the brand’s market segments and the marketing practices, it will also elaborate on the marketing management implications.
The target market of Zara’s clothing products is basically intended at capturing young people. Since Zara's products are premium in nature, its target market is highly sensitive to the latest trends in the fashion industry. Zara has an advantage over other traditional retailers that it does not specifically endorse the clothing apparels for a particular lifestyle (Anwar, 2017). The target market is defined in three categories depending upon the customers. The categories of the products are defined on the basis of the customers. It is represented in the table below as follows:
60 per cent
25 per cent
Fast-growing children's department
15 per cent
Table 1: Product breakdown on the basis of customers
Source: Self-made, information adapted from Anwar (2017)
The target market of Zara is composed of both men and women; however, the female category products dominate the other categories. On the basis of age, since Zara targets the younger generation more specifically, the demographic factor of age is used to tap the younger market. The women falling under the age group of 18 to 40 years are explicitly targeted (Liu & Sun, 2016). The income levels are also considered as the Zara offers luxury products; hence the customers with mid-income and high-income are besieged. The psychological factor is taken into account by the brand while marketing its products; this is the sensitivity of the individuals about fashion and the latest trends in the industry (Bui & Muñoz Martinez, 2019). This is so because; every year it launches more than 12000 new designs (Bui & Muñoz Martinez, 2019).
Analysis of the consumer behaviour theories
Appraisal Theory is among one of the prominent consumer behaviour theories that suggest that an individual's emotional response is controlled by the perception about the event (Manthiou, Kang & Hyun, 2017). As per the opinions presented by the authors Manthiou, Kang & Hyun (2017), consumption circumstance can be emotionally boosted. The theory suggests that consumer behaviour is substantially influenced by emotional reactions. The factors that impact the consumers’ decision-making processes are appraisals of goal relevance, coping potential and goal congruence. They also stimulate consumption emotions such as satisfaction, anger or sadness. These emotions are known to stimulate the actions of consumers regarding purchasing decisions. Satisfaction is also related to the repeated purchasing intention of the customers (Wang, Wong, Ng, Hong & Lim, 2019).
Goal relevance is a key component that is responsible for stimulating emotions. It determines the extent to which an individual relates a particular event with personal goals. This theory suggests that the post-consumption behaviour of the consumers is indicated by the stimulation of emotions such as the satisfaction of or dissatisfaction (So, Kuang & Cho, 2016). It is contingent from this theory that a consumer who is dissatisfied or angry with the product or service is likely to negatively influence the product and brand’s image via word-of-mouth. Similarly, a satisfied consumer will positively motivate other consumers as well regarding the purchase of the product (Chan & Goh, 2019). The cognitive appraisal theory is closely associated with the post-purchasing behaviour of the consumers. The satisfaction of the consumers is related to brand loyalty and repeated purchasing behaviour (So, Kuang & Cho, 2016).
Perception of the customers is another integral aspect that impacts the buying behaviour of the consumers. It is the ultimate objective of every business to ensure that the perception regarding the product being offered is enhanced. Consumer perception theory is a notion grounded on the analysis of the behaviour and perception of the consumers (So, Kuang & Cho, 2016). The key procedure that is encompassed in the perception that an individual builds about a product is relied on exposure, interpretation and attention. ‘Memory’ is an integral part of the consumer perception theory that encompasses purchasing experiences (Kim, Hantula & Di Benedetto, 2016).
Authors Kim, Hantula & Di Benedetto (2016) have stated that this theory has suggested that with the increasing competition in the market, it is crucial for the businesses to ensure that the product offerings are effectually differentiated from other products in the market. Since the customers today are becoming more sensitive to price and quality, the perception theory brings forwards a picture of the interaction of acuity of the consumers and marketing and offerings of the consumers. The consumers today look for high discounts as well as the places where the highest quality products are offered. Consumers look for products that are compatible with the needs as well as are luxurious. All these factors result in the complicated formation of the segregate a product. This theory has motivated the organizations to look for ways that can improve the perception of the consumers.
Equity theory states that the motivation of the consumers regarding purchasing behaviour usually arises as a result of the motivation of the consumers arising due to being treated fairly. This theory is grounded on the idea of being treated with fairness and equity Wang, F., Wong, (Wang, Wong, Ng, Hong & Lim, 2019). Authors Wang, Wong, Ng, Hong & Lim (2019) have stated that the customers feel strong ties with the product when they feel that the organization treats its customers in an equal custom. The feeling of fair treatments is cultivated among the consumers as a result of the fact that they feel that genuine products are being offered, a virtuous deal is being made and authenticity of the transaction is being guaranteed.
Consumers mostly prefer the brands that offer mutual benefit for both the brands and the consumers. This results in the cultivation of the value of equity amid the consumers. It is a reason that the consumers feel the need to buy the products. It is relied on social psychology that the consumers prefer the products that are based on the value of equity. Angkie (2019) has stated that by examining the nature of the supplier-customer relationship, it can be revealed that consumers expect the best deals a wish to get value for money. Brand equity is a broad term that encapsulates the influence of the marketing practices on consumers. This theory suggests that equity is a key reason for the motivation of the consumers to buy a particular product (San Martín, Herrero & García de los Salmones, 2019)
Value-driven attitude is another key theory that stresses on the fact that consumer behaviour is an amalgamation of the various needs. Values play an integral role in determining the drift in the materialistic concerns (Wongpitch, Minakan, Powpaka & Laohavichien, 2016). There are wide arrays of components that are incorporated under this theory that encapsulate personal lifestyle, personal purchasing and consumer behaviour, personal goals and values and value orientation as consumers. This theory also takes into account the comparison of the customers in adhering to the degree of materialism and non-materialism.
The affective attitude components that impact the behaviour of the consumers incorporate the result of cognition and the overall behaviour. It incorporates the consumer feeling differently about a particular product at different times. Consumers have a motive to purchase a specific product (Wongpitch, Minakan, Powpaka & Laohavichien, 2016). This motive is driven by numerous factors. It is related to the instinct or the strong urge to buy a particular product. The psychological process is that a customer undergoes while performing the buying process that has assisted any marketers in analysing the behaviour of the consumers in the buying procedure.
Application of this in Zara's marketing strategy
Zara is a well-known brand name in the market in different market sections. The clothing branch of the firm has a distinct customer-base in the market. The framework of the loyal customers of clothing apparels of Zara is already well-built and is continually inflating. Zara employs a well-integrated and differentiated marketing technique for targeting its defined market segments. It has cultivated an advantage over its competitors by ensuring the adoption of the 4Es approach. This approach encapsulates stressing on evangelism, experience and exchange (Bui & Muñoz Martinez, 2019).
Zara incorporates the equity theory in its marketing tactics by ensuring that the authentic deals are provided to the customers. The apparel retailing giant makes sure that the consumers are communicated about the latest designs introduced. It makes use of platforms such as social media platforms and online websites to communicate about the designs. It also makes sure that the customers are regularly updated about the discounts and offers that it is introduced. Most of the offers introduced by the firm can be availed by all the users (Bui & Muñoz Martinez, 2019). In the fast-fashion industry, Zara competes with many other brands in terms of clothing such as H&M.
Zara ensures that it offers its customers a reason to choose it over other competitors in terms of fairness in treating its employees and offering a fair quality-check of the products. This is ensured by the fact that it constantly communicates in marketing that its products are manufactured in an appropriate environmental and social conditions (Ge, Sun & Li, 2018). Since it has a strong brand name, it becomes easier for it to incorporate the equity conjecture and persuade the consumer regarding buying the products. Zara associates the products’ quality with safety.
Nowadays consumers are becoming more concerned about corporate social responsibility and their buying behaviour is also being impacted as a result of the same. Though the organization is facing challenges in making the products sustainable, but it markets to the customers that it is putting efforts to make the products adhere to the environmental friendliness. It is working on making the products ethically compliant (Bui & Muñoz Martinez, 2019). Through its website, it communicates to the customers that it is laying prominence on the selection of the raw materials and enhancing its processes of manufacturing the clothing apparels.
Zara employs the cognitive appraisal theory and ensures that the emotional stimuli of the consumers are tapped. Consumers associate their emotions with the product either in terms of consistency of the product with their goals (So, Kuang & Cho, 2016). Since Zara hand-tailors its designs for targeting the customers who are highly sensitive towards the latest trends in the fashion industry, it aims to recognize their goals. Zara has a total of eight endorsed brands. The key factors that distinguish Zara from its competitors that also bring new designs in the market such as H&M are the advertisements laying prominence on the most fashionable designs that are fresh and innovative and the speed of introducing the new fresh designs.
It does not trail the aggressive marketing like other clothing retailing brands. It rather lays prominence on the intrinsic dimension and follows an impressive approach. For stimulating the fashion-bugs, the firm makes sure that the post-purchasing behaviour of the customers is valued. After purchasing, Zara communicates the customers via notifications to check the latest trends and also has a discussion forum on social media pages such as its Facebook page, which facilitates the customers in expressing their opinions regarding their latest purchases (Ge, Sun & Li, 2018). The Facebook pages of the brand are updated on a regular basis to ensure that the latest designs are communicated to the customers. It also collaborates with celebrities to endorse its products.
The perception theory of consumer behaviour plays an integral role in shaping the purchasing behaviour of the customers.
Zara makes use of two critical factors to influence the perception of the consumers which involve price dimension and intrinsic dimension. The viewpoints of the customers iterate around the fact that if the pricing structure is premium then the product offered is of virtuous quality. Zara uses this thinking to market its products by amalgamating its quality and high-quality products (Ge, Sun & Li, 2018). Zara has a good brand and its name comes to the minds of the customers whenever the high-street fashion brand is talked about. It is the power of the brand that it is able to advertise its products in an effectual custom. It also markets the fashionable designs in the medium pricing structure for the people who cannot afford the high-end products.
Zara is a strong brand globally and the key reason that the consumers have affirmative perception regarding the brand is because of the fact that the delivery of the latest designs tailored which are over 11000; really fast up to the stores (Aftab, Yuanjian, Kabir & Barua, 2018). It ensures to keep the employees engaged via this method. The brand also emphasises the significance of acknowledging the attitudes of the consumers in influencing the buying behaviour of the consumers. Zara is intended to create a customer-focused strategy for advertising its products. It follows a premium pricing stratagem that is aimed at delivering high-quality products. It usually makes uses of the store displays to market its designs (Aftab, Yuanjian, Kabir & Barua, 2018).
It does not follow the media marketing like television but still engages in social media marketing. Its communication about sustainability is also a key factor that influences the attitudes the customers. The firm also launched its tranche of websites for European markets for endorsing the products. Attitudes of the consumers are heavily influenced by the environmental sustainability of the organization. In the year 2015, the organization made progress towards the circular economy model (Saraswat, 2018). It is intended at ensuring that environmental and social sustainability is collaborated. This was safeguarded by running a pilot run in 37 Zara stores in five countries. Zara also markets clothes that are gender-neutral which is a new and fresh idea in the gender-based categorized clothing market (Chung, 2017).
Figure 1: Sustainability in Zara
Source: Adapted from the annual report of Zara (2018)
Benefits of incorporation of the consumer behaviour theories
The cognitive appraisal theory will further assist the firm in analysing how the emotions of the consumers determine their purchasing behaviour. Though each individual has a different way of reacting to the instances, still Zara uses this theory to anticipate how the consumers will respond to the introduction of new designs. By analysing the designs and the concepts of clothing, the prompt the buying behaviour can be enhanced and hence, Zara can further inflate its profitability. Zara can stress on this domain and ensure that the purchasing behaviour of the customers is continually inflated (Ge, Sun & Li, 2018). It can be beneficial for the organization in future operations as well. The organization can trail the equity theory to make sure that an equal platform is provided to all the customers to access the products. This will further strengthen brand equity.
Fashion is continuously evolving and is changing the outlook of people towards fashion and clothing. It is not merely being looked upon as simply as an attire but is also associated with the personality and traits (Rabine, 2017). For a very long time, the fashion industry has been operating behind the curtain but now customers have increasingly become interested in the not just the final product but in the processes as well. The customers today are acknowledging the prominence of environmental degradation that is being caused by the industries involving the textile and clothing industry. At this stage, the customers are seeking products that are ethically compliant and also made from the recyclable materials.
This trend is influencing Zara to adopt sustainable practices in its clothing section. Across all the units in the supply chain, Zara is trying to make use of organic products. The organization has committed to becoming a completely sustainable brand by the year 2025 (Ge, Sun & Li, 2018). It will be beneficial in further motivating the buying behaviour of the customers. In the clothing industry, resale is increasingly gaining attention. 95 per cent of the garments that are binned are completely fit for reuse. Due to the increment in waste accumulation, the customers are becoming more aware of the environment-friendly nature of the employees. In the UK alone, 300000 tonnes of clothing waste is produced per year (Bhatt, Silverman & Dickson, 2019).
Zara can take this opportunity to recycle the products and make sure that the waste is reduced. This will create a positive influence on the consumers and will play a critical role in motivating consumers regarding purchasing the product. Also, fast fashion is gaining increasing recognition in this market. Competitors of Zara involving H&M and Forever 21 have adopted the agility in the industry; Zara is also moving on the same path and is continuing to trail the same. To gain the competitive advantage and align with the fast fashion trend in the industry, Zara is integrating the hyper-rapid design in its supply chain to make sure that the products are marketed quickly (Ge, Sun & Li, 2018).
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