Ethical retailer analysis — ZARA

Zara is a Spanish clothing and accessories retailer based in Arteixo, Galicia. The company was founded in 1975 by Amancio Ortega and Rosalía Mera. It is one of the largest international fashion companies. It belongs to Inditex, one of the world’s largest distribution groups. Zara as of 2017 manages up to 20 clothing collections a year. (INDEX,2017) Zara offers fashionable and affordable clothing by continuously presenting styles that are trendy and “hot” for the season. They are trend-setters in the field with excellent response in trends. According to the introduction in Zara’s official website, 1000 designs will be generated per month by their excellent design team. Those designs will be directly sent to the manufacturing base in Spain to ensure the sufficient supplement of retail stores.(ZARA,2017)


“The customer is at the heart of our unique business model, which includes design, production, distribution and sales through our extensive retail network.”



In order to enhance the core competitiveness of the high street market. Zara has not just focused on the fashionability of the brand, but also knowing the demands from their target customers. Sharing the same values with the consumer is one of the key strategies that gains the loyalty from the consumers.(Levine,2013)


Sustainability is one of their focus in sharing the positive values to the consumer. Variety of channels have been used to advertise the actions that ZARA has made to develop the sustainability of their business. (Bhasin,2017)


Website is one of their main aspects that sharing the information of sustainability of ZARA. As the fig.8 shows below, ZARA as one of the Inditex member has participated in every aspect of the sustainability area.


Fig.8 Main page of Zara sustainability website

Different standards are listed in the website to commit the promise of selling ethical,safe and environmentally-friendly.

  • Clear to Wear and Safe to Wear:These standards guarantee that all the products that Zara sells comply with the most stringent health and safety standards.

For example, Zara has released the collection called “Join Life” in 2015. According to Inditex’s site, a garment earns the “Join Life” label if it meets a series of internal qualifications: the primary fabric must be Better Cotton Initiative approved cotton, Lenzing Modal, organic cotton, Tencel, recycled cotton, or recycled polyester and recycled polyamide.(See fig.9 and 10) The manufacturing process is also followed the fifth standard which is called “Green to Wear”.




Fig.9 Special label for Zara “join life” collection



Fig.10 Zara “join life” collection campaign



  • Teams to Wear:This sums up a corporate culture and philosophy that fosters business ethics, respect for others and their diversity.

At Inditex, the company has established a improvement team which includes 150000 critical-thinking professionals to help the brand to grow constantly. The working environment ensures the ethic of their business which allows every member of their group can declare their point of view. Variety of communication channels and blogs in their website are opened to enhance the interaction among the consumer, employee and shareholders of ZARA.(ZARA,2017)


  • Tested to Wear:A production process audit and monitoring methodology designed to ensure that all ZARA’s products are made upholding ethical criteria and human, labour and environmental rights.

Over 1,725 suppliers and 6,298 factories that make up the Inditex supply chain are located in over 50 countries. All these suppliers and manufacturers are bound by the social and environmental responsibility values. Inditex has also coupled with international platforms such as Inter Alia,the Ethical Trading Initiative or the UN Global Compact.

Based on this, Inditex has a Strategic Plan for a stable and sustainable supply chain 2014-2018, which delves further into the Group’s work in recent years in issues of responsibility of the supply chain.(Inditex,2015)


  • Green to Wear:The strategy designed to ensure ZARA makes and sells environmentally-friendly products.

Inditex’s Global Sustainability Strategy permeates the Group’s entire business model and encompasses three major strategic initiatives (water management, energy and greenhouse gas emissions management and biodiversity protection) as well as action plans that address specific impacts of Inditex’s business.

For example, in 2011, Greenpeace started a new program with Zara to ban harmful toxins from the clothing production. Greenpeace published its “Toxic threads: the big fashion stitch-up” report in November 2012 as part of its Detox Campaign identifying companies that use harmful toxins in their manufacturing processes. Ideas were rapidly reflects in its Campaign with strong visual impact. (Fig.11) Nine days after the report was published, Zara committed to eradicating all releases of hazardous chemicals throughout its entire supply chain and products by 2020. Then, Zara became the biggest retailer in the world to raise awareness for the Detox Campaign.(Greenpeace,2012)



Fig.11 Zara special Campaign for Detox



Further more, the decorations and display of Zara’s retail stores have obeyed the core values of “ Join the life” collection. Clothes which were made by environmental-friendly material were displayed in a special section in the stores. Recycling Boxes which are used to collect second hand clothes are located in the conspicuous position to encourage the customers to donate their clothes. (Fig.12) This action has helped Zara to communicated the values of sustainability with the customers and enhance the consumers sense of participation and social responsibility.



Fig.12 Retail store display of Zara

Last but not the least, the raw material of packing of Zara has been changed into recyclable form. Slogans were printed on the boxes to declare the values of their sustainability proposition. Famous design studios and celebrities such as Pierre-Ange Carlotti,ciszak dalmas and Espadaysantacruz studio were also involved to this event to design the style of the recyclable boxes to attract consumers attention.(See Fig.13,14,15 and 16)




Fig.13-16 Cooperation between famous design studios and Zara on packing.

To sum up, after doing series of promotions in sustainability of the business, Zara has gain a favorable market position with positive values and active actions. The depth of their sustainability  strategies has helped them to successfully established the connection between the brand and customers by not just promoting on website and retail stores but also managing the green resourcing of their manufacturing process.




Bhasin, H. (2017). Marketing Strategy of Zara – Zara Marketing Strategy. [online] Marketing91. Available at: [Accessed 2 May 2017].

Greenpeace International. (2017). People! Zara commits to go toxic-free. [online] Available at: [Accessed 2 May 2017].

Inditex Annual Report, 2015, Sustainable development at Inditex.[Online] Available at:: [Accessed 30 Apr. 2017].

Inditex (2017). Zara – [online] Available at: [Accessed 30 Apr. 2017].

Levine.S (2013). How Zara Took Customer Focus to New Heights. [online] Available at: [Accessed 1 May 2017].

Vougue (2016) Zara Releases Sustainable Collection[Online] Accessed from: [Accessed 30 Apr. 2017].

Zara (2017). ZARA United Kingdom. [online] Available at: [Accessed 1 May 2017].

Fig.8 Main page of Zara sustainability website [Online] Accessed from: (30/04/2017)

Fig.9 Special label for Zara “join life” collection [Online] Accessed from: (30/04/2017)

Fig.10 Zara “join life” collection campaign [Online] Accessed from:  (30/04/2017)

Fig.11Fig.11 Zara special Campaign for Detox [Online] Accessed from: (30/04/2017)

Fig.12 Retail store display of Zara [Online] Accessed from: (30/04/2017)

Fig.13-16 Cooperation between famous design studios and Zara on packing. [Online] Accessed from:  (30/04/2017)

Fig.8 Main page of Zara sustainability website [Online] Accessed from: (30/04/2017)

Fig.8 Main page of Zara sustainability website [Online] Accessed from: (30/04/2017)



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