Fast Fashion Brands Business Strategies: Zara, H&M, and Gap
The marketing strategies of Zara, H&M, and Gap share a number of similarities that characterize them as fast-fashion retailers. First and foremost, brands’ go-to-market strategy focuses on providing shoppers with access to fashionable, quality clothing at low cost and a global presence in the market (Lee, 2020; Ha, 2021; Sonsev, 2018). All three retailers are also similar in their choice of e-commerce strategy, including gradually closing physical stores and moving from brick-and-mortar sales (Zara’s e-commerce, 2020; Rigby, 2021; Charlton, 2020; Khaliliyeh, 2019). The brands are also similar in innovative thinking with a focus on developing sustainable fast fashion (Ha, 2021; Sonsev, 2018; Walsh, 2018).
At the same time, Zara differs from H&M and Gap in terms of innovation, striving to provide customers with access to cheaper analogs of models from expensive brands (Chunling, 2020). Zara is also unique in terms of product design and development, as it offers a limited number of models in the collection but releases up to 20 collections per year (Nguyen, 2020). The same relates to market disruption characteristics, which is another difference of Zara, as this retailer offers clothes of the latest fashion trends at low prices, which is changing the fashion industry as a whole (Ha, 2021). Thus, Zara has a number of unique features but is still part of the fast fashion industry.
Zara’s business model has both benefits and limitations compared to H&M and Gap. Zara has an advantage in product design and development, as it creates products by anticipating fashion trends due to an innovative supply chain strategy and in-house designers, which makes it more flexible than competitors (Lee, 2019). Additionally, the retailer has the advantage in terms of a go-to-market strategy, retaining ubiquitous control over its stores, minimizing franchising, and allowing it to manage pricing and service more efficiently (Fast-fashion brands, n.d).
The limitation of Zara’s business strategy may be due to innovative thinking, as it is difficult to maintain a balance between sustainability and many such collections released each year (Ha, 2021). Another limitation exists in relation to e-commerce since Zara depends on physical stores, and online stores are not developed enough (Ha, 2021). From the analysis of the criteria listed above, we can conclude that H&M has the most effective business strategy since it meets the needs of consumers and is also actively developing online retailing.
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Chunling, L. (2020) ‘Analysis on the marketing strategy of fast fashion brand Zara based on 4c theory,’ 4th International Conference on Economics, Management Engineering and Education Technology (ICEMEET 2020), Toronto, Canada, pp. 455-459. Web.
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Ha, J. (2021) ‘Zara strategic analysis,’ Undergraduate thesis, University of Nebraska, Lincoln, pp. 1-21. Web.
Khaliliyeh, N. (2019) Digital disruption in the fast-fashion industry. Web.
Lee, A. (2020) How H&M became the world’s 2nd largest fashion retailer. Web.
Lee, H. L. (2019) How extreme agility put Zara ahead in fast fashion. Web.
Nguyen, T. (2020) Fast fashion, explained. Web.
Rigby, C. (2021) Gap shifts to digital-first strategy, as 45% of annual sales take place online. Web.
Sonsev, V. (2018) How Gap Inc. personalizes marketing to boost results. Web.
Walsh, D. (2018) Guiding sustainable change at Gap Inc. Web.
Zara’s e-commerce strategy; decision to close 1.200 stores! (2020). Web.