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Market Orientation as a Branding Strategy

Charina Montemar Hägglund

Supervisor: Olivia Kang

Bachelor’s Thesis – Företagsekonomi C


Autumn Semester 2007
Department of Business Studies
ABSTRACT

This paper studied the impact of market orientation strategy on brand awareness. Zara, a
Spanish leading fashion retailer and an example of a brand using the above mentioned strat-
egy, is being compared with three other multinational brands operating in Stockholm, Swe-
den, namely; Topshop, Mango and United Colours of Benetton. The latter brands are known
to be using advertisement to create brand awareness.

Fashion magazine’s attention were used as a measure of brand awareness. Data on the brand
awareness were gathered by browsing three leading Swedish fashion magazines - Elle, Glam-
our and Damernas Värld - and the fashion section of the biggest Swedish tabloid, Aftonbladet.

It was found out that market orientation can compete with advertising as a marketing strategy
to create brand awareness, but only in some parts of the market segment. This was concluded
from the fact that Zara was featured in some of the magazines, but not all of them.

2
ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

First, I would like to thank our thesis adviser, Ms. Olivia Kang, who gave me unconditional
support and understanding to complete this paper. Second, I would like to thank my loving
family and friends for continuous trust and support in my capacity. Lastly, I would like to
thank my classmates for sharing to me their constructive criticisms and comments to improve
more this paper.

CHARINA MONTEMAR HÄGGLUND

3
TABLE OF CONTENTS

INTRODUCTION .......................................................................................................................................... 5
THEORETICAL FRAMEWORK ................................................................................................................. 7
BRAND AWARENESS ........................................................................................................................... 7
FASHION JOURNALISM / MEDIA........................................................................................................ 8
ADVERTISING ....................................................................................................................................... 9
MARKET ORIENTATION STRATEGY ............................................................................................... 11
CUSTOMER FOCUS ....................................................................................................................................... 12
COMPETITOR FOCUS .................................................................................................................................... 13
INTERFUNCTIONAL COORDINATION ................................................................................................................. 14
MARKET ORIENTATION AND BRANDING ............................................................................................................. 15
MODEL ................................................................................................................................................. 15
METHODOLOGY ....................................................................................................................................... 16
MARKET ORIENTATION STRATEGY ............................................................................................... 16
ZARA ........................................................................................................................................................ 16
ADVERTISING STRATEGY ................................................................................................................ 19
BENETTON ................................................................................................................................................. 19
MANGO .................................................................................................................................................... 19
TOPSHOP ................................................................................................................................................... 20
METHOD .............................................................................................................................................. 21
FASHION MEDIA ......................................................................................................................................... 21
DATA GATHERING ........................................................................................................................................ 22
ANALYSIS OF DATA.................................................................................................................................. 22
DIFFERENT TYPES OF MEDIA........................................................................................................... 23
DIFFERENT TYPES OF EXPOSURE ................................................................................................... 25
ADVERTISEMENTS............................................................................................................................. 27
CONCLUSIONS........................................................................................................................................... 29
SUGGESTIONS FOR FURTHER RESEARCH ......................................................................................... 30
LIST OF REFERENCES ............................................................................................................................. 31
APPENDICES............................................................................................................................................... 33

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INTRODUCTION

The fashion industry has evolved noticeably over the past few decades. Fashion products that
used to be luxury items are now considered as basic commodity products and bought by al-
most all segments of the society.1 Factors that may contribute to this growing demand for
fashion products is the continuous low prices that may be brought about by an increasing
number of target markets2 and transferring the production sites to developing countries.

Due to the booming numbers of customers, more and more stores sell fashion items, leading
to stiffer competition. Consumers are also more conscious of fashion trends. Furthermore,
they are not only conscious of the style but also the quality and the price attached to it. Be-
cause of these factors, it is getting harder and more difficult for the sectors involved in fash-
ion to stand out in the industry. Nowadays, it is very vital to create value for a product by
using successfully proven marketing tools.

Moreover, it is now also equally important for the customer to recognize the existence and
availability of a company’s product or service. This is called brand awareness. Creating brand
awareness is one of the key steps in promoting a product. The product that promotes the high-
est brand awareness compared to its competitors usually get the highest sales.3

Advertising is one of the basic ways of promoting a brand. Many companies spend millions in
advertisement just to introduce a new product or even to remain competitive in the business
industry. In fact, it is the primary way of communicating a new product/brand/concept in the
market. United Colours of Benetton, MANGO & Topshop are the few examples of fashion
retailers which focus a lot on advertising.

This paper will also cite one marketing strategy that can be an alternative to advertising. It is
the market orientation strategy, popularly used by leading fashion retailer Zara (Inditex).

1
Mazaira, González & Avendaño (2003)
2
Ibid.
3
Brand Awareness n.d.

5
Zara is one of the world’s top leading clothing companies in terms of sales, profits and lead
time. Despite this success, Zara claims not to have a formal marketing department, and does
not use advertising to promote its products. To maintain its sustainable competitive advantage
in the retail clothing industry, Zara uses the “market orientation” strategy instead.4

Market orientation refers to “the organization-wide generation of market intelligence, dis-


semination of intelligence across the departments and organization-wide responsiveness to it”
according to Jaworski and Kohli (1993, p. 2). It is also when the aim of the organization is
focused to the continuous creation of superior customer value.5 The strategy is not just a mar-
keting strategy but it involves the organization of both the company and its customers.6

In the Zara case, market orientation is not only used as the most important strategy to gain
competitive advantage, but also as a branding strategy. We want to investigate whether mar-
ket orientation as a branding strategy works as well as advertising in creating awareness of the
brand. Our research question will be: “Can market orientation as a marketing strategy evoke
the same amount of brand awareness as advertising?”.

Media attention will be gathered from three Swedish fashion magazines, Elle, Damernas
Värld and Glamour, and the fashion division of the leading Swedish tabloid, Aftonbladet, as a
measure of brand awareness. Then as a reference, Zara will be compared to three other multi-
national clothes retailers which have few stores in Sweden and which use advertising to create
brand awareness, namely; United Colours of Benetton, MANGO and Topshop.

To get a better understanding of the whole paper, the following concepts will be clearly de-
fined: brand awareness, fashion media, advertising and market orientation. Then the model
used in this study will be featured.

4
Mazaira, González & Avendaño (2003)
5
Slater & Narver (1994, p. 22)
6
Mazaira, González & Avendaño ( 2003)

6
THEORETICAL FRAMEWORK

BRAND AWARENESS

“A product is something that is made in a factory; a brand is


something that is bought by a customer. A product can be copied
by a competitor; a brand is unique. A product can be quickly
outdated; a successful brand is timeless.”7

There are so many definitions of a successful brand. According to the book “Brands Tailored
for Retailers”, a successful brand is “an identifiable product, service, place or relationship,
augmented through brand processes in such a way that the brand buyer or user perceives rele-
vant, unique, sustainable added values from or together with the brand supplier and seller that
match their needs most closely”.

All the above mentioned concepts emphasize on the uniqueness of the brand. This is very
important in able to build a brand different from all the others, a brand that can be an asset of
the company. A strong unique brand is an asset that needs to be taken cared of otherwise it
will depreciate or totally decline. This constant brand evaluation should be done by the com-
pany to maintain the status of the brand in the market. To understand more, a company should
know the four levels connected to the brand.

The above book mentioned the four levels of the brand, connected to the needs of the cus-
tomer, namely; the generic, expected, augmented and potential levels. The generic level is the
part of the brand that meets the customer’s basic needs and the expected level consists of the
minimum level of product and service conditions customers expect when they buy that spe-
cific brand. The augmented level of a brand is a further development of value added that aims
to satisfy both the non-functional (can be emotional) and functional needs. The functional part
of the brand is what the product or service actually does (features, performance and quality)
and the emotional value is the psychological component in relation to the brand user’s mo-
tives, situation, role needs met by the product or service (e.g. reliability, empathy and respon-

7
Ossiansson (2004, pp. 67-68)

7
siveness from employees). This level can be expanded further by the potential level by also
focusing on innovation.8

Then, it is also equally important that the brand will be known by its target market. Branding
a product is useless unless the prospect customer recognizes it. The mass public should be
aware that a certain brand exists offering certain type of products. This is called brand aware-
ness.

What is brand awareness? Brand awareness can be defined in the following ways:9

• Getting the brand’s name into the target audiences' minds (building momentum)
• Remaining in one’s target audiences' minds (sustaining momentum)
• Getting people to talk about the brand, consistently (and in a positive light)
• Building brand’s credibility... through positioning the brand itself as one of the bests in the
industry
• Creating an automatic association between a brand and its services/products
• Creating an image that the target audience will find appealing and engaging

Building brand awareness in the minds of the public is not an easy task to do. Some compa-
nies have to stay in the business for quite awhile just to establish its brand name, while others
use the marketing communications’ tools such as advertising and public relations to introduce
its brand to the target market. Brand communication can also be projected via mass media
attention. Media attention can be exposure in magazines or newspaper, which will be the fo-
cus of this study. It is also vital to understand why we choose exposure of fashion
brands/products in fashion magazines/tabloid in order to measure brand awareness.

FASHION JOURNALISM / MEDIA

Media as expressed through fashion journalism is not new these days. People of different ages
buy fashion magazines / gazettes just to be up to date of the latest trends or just for pure enter-
tainment. Lately, it’s not only the women who read fashion segments in a magazine or tabloid
/ newspaper, but men do too. As Susanne Janssen has stated in her paper “Fashion Reporting

8
Ossiansson (2004, p. 69)
9
The New Age of Brand Awareness ( 2005, § 1)

8
in cross- national perspective 1955-2005” (2006, p. 384) , “Experts in the field of fashion and
media claim that in the twentieth century, fashion has become one of the cultural forms- like
film, photography, jazz and pop music – that have gained substantially in editorial promi-
nence in the serious press”.

Janssen (2006, p. 384) further added that “fashion gets more coverage in the media than any
comparable area of human interest or endeavour. There are more articles written about fash-
ion compared than those about art, education, theater, literature, environment or technology.
Newspapers also give fashion stories a higher profile than they did two decades ago.” An eye-
catching catwalk can be noticed nowadays to be featured in the front page of an ordinary daily
newspaper, than any ordinary event. Due to the above, fashion journalism is also a booming
industry now a days.

Fashion journalism is a composite term used to describe all aspects of published fashion me-
dia. It is a way of communicating the aspects of fashion industry to the mass public. People
working on this area are sometimes called as fashion writers, fashion critics or fashion report-
ers. Good examples of fashion journalism are not only the fashion features in magazines and
newspapers, but the term includes books about fashion, fashion related reports on television as
well as online fashion magazines, websites and blogs.10

Fashion write-ups is a form of publicity and will help the fashion retailer in exposing their
products to the concerned public, and thus in the end, promote brand awareness. However, it
is very important that the brand should first get the attention of fashion analysts as primary
promoters or customers of the product. Thus, fashion media exposure is not only a valuable
way of branding strategy, but can be also an expression of the success of a marketing strat-
egy. This study will use the latter function of fashion media to measure the effect of two dif-
ferent branding strategies; advertising and market orientation.

ADVERTISING

Why do many companies spend millions in advertising? What benefits can advertisement give
to retailers especially in fashion? Does a fashion retailer really need to advertise to increase
sales?

10
Wikipedia 2008, Fashion Journalism, § 1

9
Advertising is a message paid by a specific sponsor and released through some medium of
mass communication. It is a persuasive way of communication, not neutral, not unbiased and
says; “I am going to sell you a product or an idea”.11 Advertising is only one of several mar-
keting communication options available to the company.

J. T. Russel et al. (1996) mentioned it is often is difficult to determine why a company


chooses to advertise at a particular level. However, there are a number of situations that usu-
ally dictate a higher proportion of advertising to sales than might otherwise be the case:
1. To introduce or promote a new product or service.
2. To be always competitive.
3. To maintain a top position in the industry.
4. To put emphasis on a new price.
5. To keep up with a fast-growing industry.

Moreover, advertising’s primary role is concerned with building brand awareness and prefer-
ence – both of which are communication functions.12 As noticed from the above enumera-
tions, advertising is a basic tool to promote a product holding a certain brand name, carrying a
certain price in order to compete with other products available in the market. Russel Colley
(as stated in De Fleur & Dennis 1998) claims in another book that if advertising is successful,
it results to closed sales, and to do that it must carry consumers through the four levels of un-
derstanding: (1) awareness of a brand or company, (2) comprehension of the product and what
it will do for them, (3) a conviction that they should buy the product, and (4) action - that is,
buying the product.13

Furthermore, one of the vital things that advertising does is offering high and better quality
products to the consumers. Here, branding comes in. Branding is very important in order that
the customer can identify the product’s manufacturer and thereby, buyers tend to associate
the quality of the product with a certain brand. On the other hand, advertising helps the con-

11
Russel & Lane (1996, p. 32)
12
Russel & Lane (1996, pp. 31-32)
13
DeFleur & Dennis (1998, p.326)

10
sumers in the decision to choose from the wide array of brands / products available in the
market. “Without advertising, businesses would not be able to bring new products to the at-
tention of enough consumers fast enough to make the enormous cost of creating, developing,
manufacturing and distributing these products a rational business decision”.14 And without
branding, it’s is difficult to choose from many same and analogous products available in the
market. This study will measure the ability of a branding strategy based on advertising to
make fashion journalists recognize and choose the advertised brand.

MARKET ORIENTATION STRATEGY

The main interest in this thesis is to know if market orientation succeeds in getting brand
awareness without using advertising. According to articles about one of our subjects, Zara,
this strategy is widely used by the said brand, and the brand owner Inditex proudly declared
that it hardly used advertising to sustain competitive advantage in the fashion industry.15

Satisfying a customer has been one of the basic objectives of a business. According to A. Ma-
zaira et al (2003) quoting Drucker (1954) in his paper, this market orientation strategy which
originated in marketing orientation (developed in the 1950’s), has also the same basic aim.
The customers are the main focus of the business in order to attain competitive advantage and
projected profitability.

But market orientation is broader than marketing orientation because the former is inter-
functional and requires coordination of the culture and behaviour of the whole organization.16
In market orientation, it is not the sole responsibility of the marketing department to accom-
plish a marketing goal, but the company as a whole. Every part of the unit has its role in the
fulfilment of the organization’s main objective which is the satisfaction of the customer.

Kohli and Jaworski (1990, p. 3) further discussed that market orientation entails (1) one or
more departments engaged in activities geared toward developing of understanding of cus-
tomers’ current and future needs and the factors affecting them (2) sharing of this understand-

14
Rusell & Lane (1996, pp. 37-38)
15
Mazaira, Gonzalez & Avendaño (2003)
16
Ibid.

11
ing across the departments, and (3) the various departments engaging in activities designed to
meet selected customer needs. In other words, market orientation refers to the organization
wide generation, dissemination and responsiveness to market intelligence”.17

A business is then considered market-oriented when the organizational culture is focused and
has one primary aim, which is the continuous creation of superior customer value18, which we
can conclude is one of the important components of a good brand. This includes collection
and coordination of information on customers, competitors and other significant market influ-
ence like suppliers and regulators.19 A continuous study of a company brand’s valuation is
also one of the important aspects of market orientation.

Furthermore, the three main components of a good market orientation strategy are customer
orientation, competitor focus and inter-functional coordination and two decision criteria long
term focus and profitability.20 Customer orientation and competitor focus includes all the ac-
tivities involved in gathering information about the buyers and competitors in the target mar-
ket and disseminating them to the businesses. Inter-functional coordination is the business
coordinated efforts which resulted after getting all necessary customers’ and competitors’
information, typically involving all the departments in order to create superior value for cus-
tomers.21

Customer Focus

Customer focus is often on the top of the list of an enterprise primary’s objective. As the say-
ing goes, “Customers are always right!”. This saying seems to be the simplest guideline for all
businesses, regardless of its size. But customer focus goes far beyond than traditional cus-
tomer research according to Kohli and Jowarski (1990, p. 4). Being customer oriented in-
volves taking into consideration also market intelligence and what customers say or dictate.
Market intelligence is a broader concept that includes consideration of (1) exogenous market

17
Jaworski and Kohli, (1993, p. 2)
18
Slater & Narver (1994)
19
Ibid, (1994, p. 22)
20
Narver & Slater (1990, p. 4)
21
Narver & Slater (1990)

12
factors (e.g. competition and regulation) that affect customers’ needs and preferences and (2)
current as well future needs of the customers.22 The said concept only means that market-
oriented business should understand not only its direct customers, but also the chain involved
in the customers’ business. In short, it should know the cost and revenue dynamics not only of
its immediate target buyers but also of all markets beyond, for demand in the immediate and
“upstream” markets is derived from the demand in the original “downstream” markets.23

Businesses that have implemented this kind of strategy are always on the endless studies for
upcoming ways to satisfy their customer’s wants and needs and this can include the service
that they can offer before and after sales. Because of this reason, collaboration between the
top management and its subordinates is very important. Managers and employees should
work as a team in order to maintain superior customer value. Employees play a vital role in
this concept, so the company should be paying more attention when they hire their staffs.
Regular training is also important to retain the best people in the company.24

Competitor Focus

Focusing on competitors might not be equally important as customer focus, but as mentioned
above, to understand more the behaviour of a customer, one should look through the other
factors surrounding the latter. It is vital to consider who are the competitors, what marketing
approaches they use, how effective are their products and services and at what prices they are
offered. Competitors should be studied upon whether they can be perceived as alternate sup-
pliers by the customers. Using target rivals as a frame of reference, competitor-focused firms
25
try to identify their strengths and weaknesses to keep pace or stay ahead of them. Constant
variations of the competitors’ strategic policies may occur so close monitoring of the latter is
important in order to understand more their capabilities.26 In this way, the company is always

22
Kohli and Jowarski (1990, p. 4)

23
(Slater & Narver, 1994, p. 22).

24
Slater & Narver (1994)
25
Ibid.
26
Heiens 2000

13
ready and flexible to respond for further improvements of its products and thus maintaining
its brand’s position in the market.

Heiens (2000, p. 2) also stated in his article that “when market demand is predictable, the
competitive structure is concentrated and stable and there are few powerful customers, the
emphasis on competitors is more important. Moreover, the lesser the degree of competitive
hostility, the greater the positive impact of competitor emphasis on performance”.

To add, in market-driven businesses, continuous meetings among employees and management


discussing about their competitors are needed. Supervisors should frequently discuss competi-
tor’s strengths and weaknesses as a guide for future actions. The competitor’s weaknesses are
often used to obtain more competitive advantage. In some cases, they keep competitors from
developing an advantage by responding rapidly or anticipating their actions.27 An example of
this is the launching of “online Zara Home” in many countries including Sweden this October,
before H&M has launched its H&M Home division.

Interfunctional Coordination

Being the last component of market orientation strategy, this involves “the coordination of the
personnel and other resources from throughout the company to create value for the buyers”
according to Slater and Narver (1994, p. 23). The role of every unit in the organization must
be clearly defined and every employee, regardless of its position must recognize his role in
order to help the company achieve its objective. 28

Due to the above, market orientation simplifies the focus and vision of an organisation’s strat-
egy.29 It provides a unifying focus for the efforts and projects of individuals and departments
within the organisation. It also provides psychological and social benefits to the employees.
The latter can then develop a sense of pride in belonging to an organisation in which all de-
partments and individuals work toward the common goal of serving customers. The latter
authors further add; that responsiveness is important to make this market orientation concept
to work out.

27
Slater & Narver (1994, p. 23)
28
Ibid.
29
Kohli & Jaworski (1990)

14
Market orientation and branding

The connection between market orientation and brand awareness is quite not so obvious with
the above discussions. But I think that brand awareness is so related to the ultimate goal of
market orientation which is “ the creation of superior customer value”. By proper combination
of the above three components (customer focus, competitor focus and interfunctional coordi-
nation), the end result is that business can be able to establish a brand that can be noticed by
the target market. This way, brand awareness can be a result of the coordination and combina-
tion of the above three components. This paper will investigate whether this market orienta-
tion way of communicating to its target customers works as well as advertising in creating
brand awareness.

MODEL

It has been stated above that brand awareness is one of the aims of a company’s marketing
strategy, as it increases the brand’s value and could result to closed sales. Creating brand
awareness is clearly one of the primary purposes of advertising. Some companies, such as
Zara in this case, use market orientation instead as an alternative to the specific marketing
tool, advertising.

The question that will be posed is: “Can a company using market orientation as a marketing
strategy create the same level of brand awareness as those companies using advertisements?”
On an industry, where competition of customer attention is high, such as in clothes retailing,
brand awareness is a vital competitive advantage. Hence, we hypothesize that equally suc-
cessful companies, of approximately the same size, and which target the same customers,
should aim to get the same level of brand awareness.

Media attention is quite related to brand awareness. They both draw more attention to the
brand and as an indicator of brand awareness, the media people needs to notice the brand in
order to feature it. The hypothesis will be then, that market orientation as a branding strategy
can attract same level of media attention compared to advertising, as the media attention is
used as an expression and a way to measure their respective brand awareness. The main struc-
ture of our model is as follows:

15
Advertising

Market
orientation
Level of media Level of brand
attention awareness

This model shows how the effects of advertising and market orientation strategy can be com-
pared in relation to the level of media attention that the brand gets, which impliedly connotes
brand awareness. The representatives of brands using market orientation or advertising that
we have chosen are approximately equally big and successful, and targeting the same group of
customers. According to our hypotheses, these brands should get the same levels of media
attention.

METHODOLOGY

In order to investigate the branding aspects of market orientation, we will use Zara as case
object and United Colours of Benetton, Mango and Topshop as objects for advertised brands.

MARKET ORIENTATION STRATEGY

Zara

Inditex, or Industria de Diseño Textil, and its eight subsidiaries is an international fashion line
that focuses on the design, manufacture and sale of clothes, footwear and accessories for both
men, women and children including cosmetics and leather goods. The flagship brand of In-
ditex is Zara, and the remaining seven brands are Pull and Bear, Massimo Dutti, Bershka,
Stradivarius, Oysho, Zara Home and Kiddy's Class / Skhuaban. Zara Home which is the latest
wing included in the Inditex group which caters to home furnishings specializing in textiles,
glassware, cutlery, tableware and decorative items. 30

30
Inditex n.d., Concepts

16
The primary brand, Zara, offers the latest trends in international fashion and distributes men’s,
women’s and children’s clothes tagged at medium to low prices, with quality being medium
to high. At present, Inditex has a total of 3.674 stores located in 68 countries.31 Out of these,
Zara is present in 1129 stores including Sweden.32 They opened their first store in Stock-
holm in 2003.33 There are eight Zara branches located in Sweden; four in Stockholm, two in
Gothenburg, one in Sundsvall and one in Malmö.

Zara has gained attention in business academia for its successful implementation of market
orientation. The market orientation is the strategy of creating customer value by a focusing on
the customer throughout the vertical organization of the company. The whole business model
of Inditex is characterised by a high degree of vertical integration and very short lead times.

The company states that it hardly uses advertising. It just spends 0.3% of its revenues to ad-
vertising and marketing. This is significantly less compared to the industry’s average of 3-4%.
Instead of spending on advertising, Zara positions itself in primary locations, invests more on
store layouts and shortens its lead time. All its stores are also located in prime locations in big
city districts.34 The average store size is 1,376 square meters and make-over of old stores are
done every 3-4 years.35

Moreover, Zara’s drawing power focuses on creating artificial scarcity of its products and fast
response to fashion trends. The company produces fewer quantities for a certain design.36
They manufacture instead clothes of different designs, the latter average 12,000 pieces annu-
ally37. Products’ lead time is the shortest in the industry which averages only to 15 days.38
The stores are also replenished two times a week to create constant freshness of its ambiance.
Customers will be forced to buy the product directly when they visit the store and not delay it

31
Inditex. n.d., Our Group
32
Inditex, n.d., Stores Around the World
33
Nilsson & Carlsvi (2004)

34
Zara’s Business Model, Information and Communication Technologies, and Competitive Analysis:, n.d.

35
Ghemawat, & Nueno (2003)
36
Dutta (2003)
37
Zara’s Business Model, Information and Communication Technologies, and Competitive Analysis:, n.d
38
Dutta (2003)

17
in the future otherwise the product is not there anymore. 39In this way, it is relatively easy for
Zara to know the slow moving items, cancel future planned production of a certain design
thereby reducing probable product write offs.

Zara is continuously monitoring how its individual stores are doing. Frequent conversations
with store managers are important with regards to communicating sales’ and orders’ data to
the headquarters. To be also more flexible to the fashion trends, the store managers are given
autonomy on its area, and feedback system is properly acted upon by the people in the head-
quarters for the coming designs. 40The company is also on a close watch of the current trends.
Sources of new information include industry publications, TV, Internet, and films. Further-
more, Zara’s trend-spotters focus their attention on venues like university campuses and dis-
cotheques. To add, Zara's young and fashion-conscious staffs also have great inputs of new
ideas.41

Furthermore, Zara's designers even attended trade fairs and ready-to-wear fashion shows in
Paris, New York, London, and Milan, browsed through catalogs of luxury brand collections,
and worked with store managers to begin to develop the initial sketches for a collection .42
This vertical integration allows Inditex to a supremely quick response to market fluctua-
tions.43

For Inditex, this is the key method of gaining competitive advantage. Zara even claims not to
have a formal marketing department, as they use market orientation as a marketing strategy.44
Given the hard climate on today’s fashion market, this is a remarkable statement from a very
successful business.

39
Ferdows, Lewis & Machuca (2005)
40
Zara’s Business Model, Information and Communication Technologies, and Competitive Analysis:, n.d
41
Ghemawat, & Nueno (2003)

42
Ibid.
43
Inditex n.d, .Press Releases
44
Mazaira, González & Avendaño (2003)

18
ADVERTISING STRATEGY

The brands to be compared to Zara to are United Colours of Benetton, MANGO and Topshop.
These were chosen for being comparable to Zara in various ways, and using a marketing
strategy different to Zara’s. These brands focus more on advertising among others to get
brand awareness.

Benetton

First, United Colours of Benetton was chosen because it has a relative small number of stores
in Stockholm – three, comparable to Zara’s four – while being a large multinational brand.45
Benetton is also well-known for its lavish advertisements, which on occasion has been inten-
tionally shocking to draw attention to the brand.46 Finally, Benetton produces garments for a
target group similar to Zara’s, so that they can compete for the same slot in the fashion re-
portages.

Today, the Benetton Group is present in 120 countries around the world, quite more expanded
than that of Zara’s. Its garments usually cater to kids and adults who just love to experiment
the different shades of fashion. Its core business is being represented with a group whose
strong Italian character in style, quality and passion are clearly seen in its brands, the casual
United Colors of Benetton, fashion oriented Sisley, Playlife leisurewear and Killer Loop
streetwear. To add, the Group produces around 150 million garments every year. Its retail
network of 5,000 contemporary stores around the world, offers high quality customer services
and generates a total turnover of over € 1.9 billion. 47

MANGO

MANGO has a history comparable to Zara’s, being a Spanish company with approximately
the same number of stores in the same number of countries worldwide, and a recent history of
great success – the first MANGO store opened in 1984.48

45
United Colours of Benetton n.d., Overview, §1
46
Website of Marknadsetiska Rådet n.d.
47
United Colours of Benetton’s n.d., Overview,§1
48
MANGO n.d., Economic dossier

19
It is a prestigious multinational company dedicated to the design, manufacturing and market-
ing of garments and accessories for women. It has over 6,500 employees, and have more than
1,000 stores in 89 countries located on the five continents.49

Like Zara, all the MANGO stores are located in prime locations, whether in the main shop-
ping centers or in premises located in city squares. Stores are of a sufficient size to display its
collections. The products of MANGO are quite similar to Zara’s in style, pricing and quality.
However, MANGO is very different from Zara in organisational strategy as MANGO is based
on a franchising system, and in marketing strategy, relying heavily on advertising campaigns;
one example is the autumn/winter 2007 collection with international movie star Penélope
Cruz as the model. There is only one MANGO store in Stockholm.

Topshop

Topshop is also comparable to Zara because of its size in Stockholm and its target market.
Although not of same international magnitude as Benetton and MANGO, Topshop operates in
28 countries. There are two Topshop stores in Stockholm, of which one is notable for being
the biggest Topshop flagship store outside UK.50

On the British high street, Topshop is known to be the fashion destination . It sells an average
of 30 pairs of knickers a minute, 6,000 pairs of jeans a day and 35,000 pairs of shoes every
week; thereby it is considered as one of the promising brands of today. Offering purse-
friendly prices with its trendy style, Topshop attracts women from teens to the 40s who are
fashion conscious . 51

Topshop showed its in-house design collection Unique (created in 2001) as part of the official
London Fashion Week schedule in September 2005 and subsequently forged exclusive part-
nerships with international boutiques Opening Ceremony in New York, Colette in Paris and
Tokyo's 10 Corso Como Comme des Garcons. Last summer 2006, Barneys in the US started

49
MANGO n.d., Behind the brand, §1,2,4
50
SO UK n.d., Topshop

51
Topshop n.d., About Topshop, §1.

20
selling Topshop's best selling Baxter jean in its flagship stores. It has also plans to expand
internationally with stores in Moscow and St. Petersburg due to open in 2008.52

Furthermore, the promotion of Topshop is based on advertising and sponsoring of events.


Topshop also gained much media attention in 2007 when they released a collection designed
in collaboration with international top model Kate Moss.

METHOD

In the analysis, market orientation will be compared to advertising in getting brand awareness
using a quantitative method. The exposure of each of the chosen brands in the fashion media
will be tallied as a measure of public awareness of the sampled brand. Year 2007 is the pe-
riod chosen because it is easier to explore the current situation, and the time constraints of the
study did not allow us to cover a bigger scope. The exposure of the group of brands using
advertising (Benetton, MANGO and Topshop) will be compared to the brand using market
orientation (Zara).

The fashion media attention is not only a measure of the brand awareness that marketing is
creating, but also important for the company’s sales through the journalists’ impact on the
consumers. This study will use the fashion division of one of Sweden’s biggest tabloids,
Aftonbladet, and the three most significant Swedish fashion magazines; Elle, Damernas Värld
and Glamour. The question, whether Zara’s marketing strategy can attract the attention of
fashion journalists in Sweden, in competition with advertised brands, can then be answered.

Fashion Media

Aftonbladet was chosen because it has very popular fashion divisions that reach great numbers
of readers - Aftonbladet’s fashion website has 176,000 unique visitors per week. Furthermore,
813,000 people also have access to the fashion articles in the paper editions of the said news-
paper.53 What makes the newspaper interesting, is that the fashion brands seldom have spe-
cific advertisements in the fashion divisions directed toward fashion consumers. In the analy-
sis, all exposures from 2007-01-01 to 2007-12-07 are included.
52
Topshop, About Topshop, §3 of Brief History
53
Aftonbladet’s advertising website n.d.

21
The fashion magazines, on the other hand, are full of advertisements from various fashion
brands. Even though the journalists most likely do not sell the advertising space themselves,
there is a risk that they are being influenced to give more attention to those brands. We are
therefore going to give notice to any advertisements of the brands in the magazines, even
though we lack knowledge of their advertising histories. The three magazines Elle, Damernas
Värld and Glamour were chosen because all three of them have a pronounced fashion profile
and are likely to attract readers with a fashion interests, and because they are popular maga-
zines with monthly editions of about 85,000, 112,000 and 65,000, respectively. 54, 55, 56 Every
2007 issue from all three magazines is included in the analysis.

Data gathering

The research will be conducted by browsing the said magazines and newspaper and counting
the number of times these four brands are mentioned during the year of 2007, and in what
form or context they are being featured. Only women’s fashion will be included in the analy-
sis, because of primary reason that our knowledge of fashion is more restricted to the said
segment. Secondarily, women still hold the crown as the top readers of these fashion maga-
zines or fashion segments of a tabloid so most of these fashion magazines are inclined to
women’s fashion. Thirdly, one of our subjects, MANGO, only offers ladies’ wear fashion.

ANALYSIS OF DATA

The data exposed major differences between the different magazines as well as the different
brands. When considering only the total number of exposures for the different brands, one
may get the impression that Zara is doing well in the competition. Topshop is the clear winner
with 58% of total media attention. Note that “total exposure” in this case means only the total
exposure of these four brands.

54
Elle n.d.

55
Bonnier Tidskrifter n.d, Damernas Värld
56
Bonnier Tidskrifter n.d., Glamour

22
Zara and Benetton seem to be equally successful with 17% and 19% respectively, and
MANGO gets the least media attention with only 6% of total exposures. The mean exposure
of the advertised brands is 28% of the total exposure, somewhat higher than Zara’s 17%, but
still a comparable level. However, when looking at the numbers from each of the four fashion
media, the ambiguousness of the results is obvious.

Zara gets half of its total exposures from the tabloid section Aftonbladet Mode, while Benet-
ton gets more attention from the magazines. It was also so striking why during 2007 Zara was
never featured with a picture in the magazine Damernas Värld! The only attention Zara got in
this magazine during the whole year was a mention in text, and only once.

DIFFERENT TYPES OF MEDIA

The three magazines and the tabloid fashion section are likely to have slightly different target
groups, which should be reflected in the collection of brands that they choose to feature. Nev-

23
ertheless, as the four brands in this investigation have approximately the same target custom-
ers, we did not expect such big differences between the magazines.

Topshop is the most popular brand in all four papers, albeit tying with Benetton in Damernas
Värld at 28 exposures. Topshop is clearly one of the “trendiest” brands for the moment. The
successful brand positioning is not only due to superiour advertising, but also to how Topshop
has affiliated successful designers and celebrities. One of those is Swedish designer Ann-
Sofie Back, who was awarded with “Guldknappen”, Damernas Värld’s prize for best Swedish
designer in 2007, and has designed her own collection for Topshop. Topshop has succeeded
in creating an image of the brand being trendy and fashionable.

Aftonbladet Mode differentiates from the others by giving Zara many exposures, and
featuring Benetton and MANGO quite seldom. Damernas Värld is different from the others
for giving Benetton the same amount of attention as Topshop. Mango is the third brand with
only 8%, as Zara is hardly featured at all. But for Glamour and Elle, the distribution of
exposure between brands is very similar.

24
To explain those differences is difficult. There are most likely many explanatory factors
involved. Differences in price or style cannot explain Aftonbladet’s heavy focus on Topshop
and Zara, as they are comparable in the said criteria to MANGO and Benetton.

Aftonbladet Mode does not display any fashion-specific advertisements, neither in the paper
issue nor at the website. Perhaps this is favourable for Zara! In an environment with there is
very less advertisements, it is reasonable to think that the marketing strategy not based on
advertising can succeed. This would imply that Zara’s marketing strategy is sufficient for
building momentum in the target group, but not sustaining same momentum in competition
with advertised brands.

Even more remarkable is why Damernas Värld did not feature Zara at all in 2007. There was
not even one picture of a Zara garment during the whole year – the only exposure of Zara was
a mention in text. This cannot be due to the lack of advertising only, as Damernas Värld
feature many new and unheard-of designers. The only reasonable explanation one can think of
is that, Zara has failed enormously in creating an image that is trendy and classy enough for
Damernas Värld. This magazine has a strong focus on design and may dislike the fact that the
design of Zara’s garments are not original, but they still feature other budget alternatives with
unoriginal designs. The target group of Damernas Värld is also older than those of the three
other papers, and the editorial staffs on Damernas Värld seem to think that, they are
incompatible with Zara’s image. The branding strategy of Zara must have failed here, not
only, by not having advertising, but also in doing the proper marketing actions.

DIFFERENT TYPES OF EXPOSURE

All kinds of media attention in magazines and newspapers cannot be assessed in the same
way. Different costs for the media must be considered, as well as different probabilities that
the reader will notice the mentioning of the brand. In the analysis, three different types of me-
dia exposure are recognised:

1. Photo shoots with model. These pictures usually cover a whole page. They are the type
of exposure which is the most expensive for the papers. The featured garments get

25
much space and attention, but the text that lists the featured brands is usually small.
This kind of exposure is probably highly desired by the retailers.
2. “What to buy”. This is the name we have given to pages where those garments that are
chosen by the editorial staffs, are being exposed. No model is also being used. Com-
pared to the photo shoot, more articles are shown in this page. We expect this to be the
second most desired type of exposure.
3. Others. The remaining types of exposure may or may not include a picture of a gar-
ment. In most cases they represent a simple mentioning of brand in some kind of text.

There were many interesting similarities, between both brands and media, in the ratios of the
three types of exposures.

We consider here only the cases were we have enough information for percentages to be
meaningful. We estimate > 15 exposures to be a good threshold. This is motivated by the fact
that the smallest of the three groups of exposures typically range from about 7%. With less
than 15 exposures, the expected number of this type of exposure would be less than one. With
a statistical security buffer of one exposure, we demand more than 15 exposures to calculate
the percentages.

26
Unfortunately, this means that Topshop is the only brand from Elle that we can use for com-
parison, and that MANGO cannot be compared to Zara in any of the papers. However, Top-
shop in Elle is still in line with the ratios in the other magazines. Photo shoots are typically
10%-30% of the total exposure, what-to-buy between 45% and 75% and the other types of
exposure make up 7%-25%. This is true for all four brands with more than 15 exposures in
Glamour and Elle (Benetton, Topshop and Zara in Glamour and Topshop in Elle).

Aftonbladet, with less advertisement than the magazines, can as expected not to afford those
expensive photo shoots. The exposure type ratios of Topshop and Zara in Aftonbladet Mode
are close to the typical ratios, but with fewer photo shoots and more of the two other catego-
ries. Damernas Värld, the magazine with most advertisements, has more photo shoots than the
other magazines. Benetton in Damernas Värld is particularly noticeable with more than 70%
photo shoots, but this is only a single observation. In other words, the distribution of expo-
sures of the various kinds does not differ notably between the advertised brands and Zara.

ADVERTISEMENTS

The advertisements of the four brands in the three studied magazines are not being counted as
media exposure, but are noted for comparison to exposure data. It seems that the spring and
the autumn are the right periods for campaigns, as all advertisements were in the period
March to May or September to November. All advertisements are a whole page or spread.

Total number of advertisements in spring and autumn

MANGO Topshop Benetton

Magazine Elle Elle Elle Damernas Värld Glamour

Spring 1 11 2 2 1

Autumn 1 10 2 2 1

As can be seen in the above figure, Benetton seems to be the brand that aims for advertise-
ments with a broad impact, as it is promoted in all three magazines. MANGO is more modest
with only one advertisement in Elle in the spring and one in the autumn. Topshop, on the

27
other hand, seems to aim for a big impact in a focused target group, as they put up 11 adver-
tisements in the spring and 10 in the autumn.

To see if there was any relation in time between advertisements and exposures, we looked at
the distribution of exposure over time.

None of the advertised brands had exposure patterns that exactly corresponded to their periods
of advertising, or that differed remarkably from the exposure pattern of Zara. Considering the
periods of advertising, there were no conclusive evidence for a direct response in media
attention to advertising.

The main results from advertising are probably seen from a bigger perspective. It has already
been stated that Topshop has a very successful branding strategy, and the intense advertising
is of no doubt part of it. It would be easy to blame MANGO’s failure in getting media
attention on the parsimonious advertising (for a marketing strategy based on advertising), but
there are likely other factors involved as well.

28
CONCLUSIONS

When looking at the figures, it looks like market orientation strategy as represented by Zara
(17%) is doing okay in the competition with the three other advertised brands; Benetton
(19%), MANGO (6%) and Topshop (58%). However, when looking more into details, it is
obvious that Zara reaches only some target markets as represented by magazines and not all.

Advertising Topshop -
58 %
(Benetton,
MANGO and Benetton -
Topshop) 19%

Zara - 17%
Market
orientation

(Zara) MANGO
6%

Level of media Level of brand


attention awarenesss

The two brands Topshop and Benetton which has the most advertisements’ exposures in the
three investigated magazines are also the ones that get the most media attention in the maga-
zines. All three advertised brands are furthermore rather constant in their share of total expo-
sures in the magazines. This continuity is something that Zara lacks.

The answer to the research question: “ Can market orientation as a marketing strategy evoke
the same amount of brand awareness as advertising?” is:

... that a company using market orientation as a marketing strategy can in general create the
same level of brand awareness as those companies using advertisements in some target groups
as represented by magazines, however, advertisement seems to be a more effective tool to get
more control over the brand and of course to promote the image of the brand.

29
The hypothesis which is: that the four brands would get approximately the same amount of
media exposure, because they are approximately equally successful and target the same
group of customers, is not supported by the data.

SUGGESTIONS FOR FURTHER RESEARCH

This study has so many limitations. First, we do not know exactly how the magazines work
with the different brands. We don’t have any idea how they choose what brands to feature and
whether there are any contacts between the magazines and the featured brands and if there is
monetary compensation involved. Second, we only limit our scope of study for a year and
only for women’s segment of fashion. We also only base our data from secondary data.

Furthermore, we cannot conclude that fashion magazine exposure is a good representation of


brand awareness of the target market. Further research should look more into the relationships
between fashion magazines and fashion retailers, and the connection between fashion maga-
zines’ exposures and customer’s brand awareness. It would also be more useful to conduct
interviews of the concerned personnel of the sampled brands on how they are using advertis-
ing strategy and marketing orientation. Moreover, an interview too of the fashion magazines
personnel will of great help to understand more, the reason behind the exposures of certain
brands / products. Lastly, it will always be more interesting to have a deeper study on this
topic, expanding the market segment group.

30
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32
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APPENDICES

Below follows graphics of all individual exposures for each brand and magazine.

33
34
35
36