What comes in your mind when you think about a ZARA advertisement?
Nothing? Well, you are right, there is actually nothing to visualize because the fashion retailer never campaigned for itself. No TV spots, no placards and no press advertisement in a branch which is known for being hard and fast moving. So how can companies like ZARA survive without attracting people? How do they make profit?
Amancio Ortega, CEO of the Spanish fashion chain “Inditex Group” (which is the parent company of ZARA), rather invests in opening stores at crowded places than in conventional marketing campaigns. There, people are attracted by huge shop windows decorated with new fashion collections every two weeks. Customers may prefer this way of “advertising” rather than be influenced by a TV spot involuntarily. Perhaps, they prefer a walk through shopping arcades at a sunny afternoon and get inspired by new and trendy clothes which are shown at ZARA´s shop windows.
Nowadays, where people are confronted with any possible kind of advertisement, customers of ZARA may feel not forced to buy there. Because of this, a pleasant and relaxed atmosphere is created and customers are willing to spend more time and money at ZARA.
Another possibility why ZARA´s business is working is the positive word-of-mouth recommendation.
If you ask young and well-dressed people where you can buy fashionable but cheap clothes, you will definitely hear “ZARA” as one of the answers.
During my survey at a store (Berlin, Kurfürstendamm) I often was confronted with statements like “I always set a high value on being well-dressed; that´s why I shop here” or “ZARA is one of my favorite stores because of the fast changing offer of new styles. It is never boring here!”
But if the customers are asked how they got to know this fashion store nobody mentioned answers like advertisement or marketing.
“Some years ago, I walked along the street and discovered this huge store in the best of taste, where I HAVE TO go inside and see what is going on there!”
“When I was 12 years old, I went shopping with my best friend and she dragged me into a ZARA store. I was totally fascinated with it!”
Indeed, my survey proved that it is possible to be well-known everywhere without any expenses on marketing campaigns.
So, does that mean that advertising is not necessary anymore?
Well, to answer this question we have to compare the concept of ZARA with other well-known fashion companies. How do they perform with success?
I think the most serious competitor of ZARA is “Hennes and Mauritz (H&M)”, a Swedish retail-clothing company, also known for its fast fashion concept. In contrary to ZARA they do spend huge sums of money on advertisement. Even prominent people like David Beckham and Donatella Versace promote their new collections. I guess everyone remembers the huge posters being placarded everywhere, be it at underground stations at house walls.
Additionally, retailers like “Esprit”, “C&A” and “New Yorker” also are profitable because of advertisement (at least it is partly responsible for their success).
Summing up, ZARA is one of the exceptions with regard to avoid advertising because most fashion companies do spend money on marketing. That means that advertisement is still somehow necessary to earn profit and to be successful as a company, if you do not have any alternatives like ZARA to invest in lucrative store places instead. But the ways of advertising are changing nowadays, at least since social media and networks came up.
Platforms like “facebook” and the online video-sharing website “youtube” for example are attractive alternatives instead of TV and radio spots as well as posters for more and more (fashion) companies.
Nowadays, especially young people join in online communities and spend lots of time surfing in the internet in general. They rather “google” for some information than read newspaper or watching TV documentations. Because of this, this target group can be attracted online more successful.
ZARA also discovered this development and founded the online shop “zara.com” in 2010. Of course, this does not belong to advertisement, but nowadays´ generation is an internet generation: instead of having a walk and get inspired by ZARA´s new shop windows the company now presents its collection online. If you avoid marketing campaigns, you have to be up-to-date even more still being capable for competing!
To my mind it will never be “old-fashioned” or “unnecessary” to advertise somebody just because some companies are successful without doing this. But you have to make sure that you somehow draw the customer´s attention to your project because you will run out of the business otherwise.