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An essential part of marketing is the buyer decision making process. In actual fact purchasing a product or service is only a small part of the decision that is made. This whole buyer decision is split into five stages; needs awareness, information search, evaluating alternatives, purchase decision and post purchase. Each stage is equally important and can influence either the following or another stage included in the five-part process. However, external factor influence’s such as social, cultural, personal and psychological factors can also affect the buyer’s decision. In relation to the target market in question for fast fashion retailer Zara, these external factors influence heavily in the buyer decision making process for our proposed product a ‘Curve Range’.
Before this five-part process begins the degree of information search needed, needs to be established. As the target market for our ‘Curve Range’ aren’t seen as a priority in the fashion world, their needs are overlooked therefore creating a high motivation for them to search for appropriate trendy clothing that fits their body comfortably and correctly. Therefore, our target customer will use extensive problem solving requiring a great deal of information to match against a personal criterion of essential elements needed in plus size clothing.
The first stage happens when a want is separated from a need in the mind of the consumer. A need is often initiated when a problem occurs. This problem creates a gap and the gap needs fulfilled. Our fashion forward, plus size working/financially stable female between age 23-33 living in the UK needs fashionable clothes that fit her plus size body. Currently in the UK there is a severe lack of plus size fashion never mind that of it considered fashionable. As written by Laura Capon - Senior Fashion and Beauty Writer at Cosmopolitan UK, she sums up plus size fashion in the UK consisting of “tailored, no-personality black trousers to go with your offensive slogan tunic top” (Capon 2018). She also expresses how plus size women just “don't have the luxury of choice that everyone else has” (Capon 2018). The initial lack of plus sized clothing in the UK altogether stems from social factors. Society in the past and still today has been very unaccepting of bigger women and the plus size trend/movement. As stated by Amanda Mull, editor at VOX, “many of the worst, most dehumanizing stereotypes about fat people — that they’re lazy, stupid, and slovenly — are deeply ingrained in fashion’s culture and attitudes, so much so that entrepreneurs can be dissuaded from making plus-sizes by the fear that both customers and others in the industry will see them as down-market” (Mull. A, VOX 2017).
The second stage; information search, requires an extensive search using external sources for the external environment as all past experiences that our consumer has had from internal sources have been negative. The consumer is still unsatisfied with plus size fashion and has no trendy clothing that fits her body. Zara currently don’t have a range that caters to plus size bodies so our proposed ‘Curve Range’ is completely new so no internal pre existing information will exist. Psychological factors affect this process, in particular; perception, how the consumer already views Zara as a retailer, is very important. As our target market is a young fashion forward female, they will know that Zara “has gained a reputation as the ultimate destination for European fashion” (Dockrill. M 2018) and will ultimately consider the brand to fit in a high fashion category while still being affordable as it has survived the competitive pricing of the high street for over 20 years.
The third stage of evaluating alternatives will be an information-based task for the consumer, matching key elements of each potential competitor against a personal criterion. These criteria will similarly coincide with the objectives of our Zara Curve Range – to create trendy, fashion forward garments that are tailored to plus size bodies and will accommodate all their needs. Due to the range fulfilling the consumers problem Zara will fall into the evoke set becoming a strong candidate for a final purchase choice. Separating Zara from many competitors is its recognition for being fashion forward and infamously creating the “fast fashion” concept, delivering new garments twice a week to all stores and a turnover time of 10-15 days, so the latest trends are always guaranteed. Inditex (Zara’s parent company/owner) stated themselves that “in our view, maximum quality means safe products that are manufactured in appropriate social and environmental conditions”(Inditex, annual report, 2015), and, because of this they work at every stage of the value chain, from raw material selection right through to distribution process. This further advantages Zara as their rigorous quality control and involvement with the garments ensures high quality and a personal touch from creator to consumer. Zara’s low pricing strategy keeps them in competition in the hostile high street retail environment against competitors. Although our target consumer is in employment and is financially stable, the attractive pricing encourages more purchases in one transaction – boosting sales and popularity figures of garments within the Curve Range. As the plus size community of women in the UK remain feeling undervalued and alienated by fashion retailers Zara was one of the first fashion brands to come up with the “What’s My Size?” tool. A tool allowing consumers to enter their weight, height and preferred fit e.g. loose, fitted, perfect. This portrays to the consumer that Zara do take their needs into account therefore making consumers in the plus size category value them for being more inclusive, another advantage against competitors.
The fourth stage involves all information previously gathered and through the extensive search strategy the brand matching the most objectives on the criteria established against a heuristic decision strategy procedure will ultimately be purchased. The heuristic decision strategy will be used by our target customer to make the information heavy decision seem less overwhelming. This strategy is essentially a set of rules that can follow a compensatory or non-compensatory approach. For our buyer, a non-compensatory approach will be used as one positive aspect e.g. fashion-ability will not compensate for a negative aspect e.g. sizing issues/fault’s. The garments must fulfil every objective in order to achieve maximum satisfaction of the target market. Personal factors will affect this decision as the Curve Range sparks an emotional appeal to the wearer. From a UK survey “One in five adults (20%) felt shame, just over one third (34%) felt down or low, and 19% felt disgusted because of their body image in the last year” (Mental Health Foundation 2019) ealHHHHHHH An attribute to the cause of this primarily being the Fashion Industry taking no social responsibility when it comes to bringing a wider variety of shapes onto the catwalk. With easily accessible tools like social media at our fingertips in today’s digital age, unrealistic body standards are seen everywhere almost everyday and this can have a detrimental affect on individuals. With Zara’s curve range, the fashionable, functional clothes will empower women no matter their shape or size to feel and look good in proper clothing tailored to them that also allows them to show off their personality demonstrating the latest trends. The target customer will finally feel like they belong to part of a societal ‘norm’ and fit in as they now have access to the same style of clothing that typical size 6-14 women in the UK are wearing.
The fifth and final stage of the process is post-purchase evaluation. The consumer will evaluate the actual performance and outcome of garments from the range against their own expectations. This ultimately feeds back as experience in the consumers psychological field and serves to influence future purchase decisions. An important component within post-purchase is the reduction of cognitive dissonance. The consumer will comprehend their decision by sharing their experience with others in hope that they buy from the Curve Range too, thus confirming their own choice as a good/correct one. The degree of post-purchase analysis depends on the level of involvement with the product/service in the first place. For our consumer – the high emotional and personal influences create a rigorous post-purchase analysis. Zara’s Curve Range will achieve full satisfaction in terms of quality, style/fashion-ability, price and most importantly size.
Confident that the retailer Zara has maintained its existing standards of quality, brand identity and inclusivity for this new Curve Range consumers belonging to the desired target market will undoubtedly repeat purchase from the range plunging Zara further into the multi-million market that already out-performed ‘standard clothing’ in 2017 and is estimated to grow a further 7.1% by 2022 (BBC 2019). The lengthy buyer decision making process with external influences working in favour ultimately advantages Zara making it into the ideal buyers evoke set. With 64 existing stores in the UK, I believe the range will be very successful in catering specifically to plus size women all over the UK that no other fast fashion retailer is yet to do.
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