Departmental stores are a huge channel for selling clothing and fashion and other home ware items. This is why the operations of significant players such as Marks and Spencer, H&M, BHS and Zara are vital to the entire market. The fashion retail market in the UK has been very competitive in the past couple of years. With several local and foreign brands promising new things, it has become difficult to retain and also obtain a very strong position in the market.

According to Stuart Rose (2008), the general trend points towards increasing the volume of sales rather than the price of items. Therefore, most retailers had lowered their prices to create demand. Such a dynamic environment makes it hard for fashion retailers to gain a higher market share and brand positioning in the minds of the consumers. This paper will outline the brand position of fashion retailer, Zara and three of its competitors which include Marks and Spencer, BHS, and H&M.

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Zara is a leading Spanish Flagship Chain Store that deals in Women and Men’s clothing. It opened its first store in 1975 and since then has taken retail fashion by storm. It is one of the largest brands, by the Inditex Fashion Retail Group, that has 723 stores in 56 countries making sales of Euro 3. 8 billion (India Supply Chain Council, 2006). Marks and Spencer, also popularly known as M&S, Marks or Marks and Sparks is a British retailer that has more than 450 stores located throughout the UK and is growing internationally by franchising into more than 30 countries throughout the world.

It is a leading retailer in food, clothing and home-ware and financial services, in operation since 1884. ( Marks and Spencer, The Company, 2008). BHS is also a leading British based retail outlet that has been there since 1928. The product range of BHS includes everything that is needed in a household (from clothes to Kitchenware etc. ). It had 185 stores with 18 franchises internationally (BHS, 2008). Lastly, H&M is a fashion retail outlet that operates in 32 countries with 1600 stores worldwide.

It was established in Sweden in 1947. It is very popular throughout the whole of UK and recently because of its growing number of stores it has caught attention of the international market as well (H&M, 2008). Zara’s average customer is aged between 15 to 30 years of age. They are fashion-focused and have a desire for high-end fashion. The average customer is an urban woman who is not necessarily exceptionally wealthy and looks for trendy clothes in reasonable prices. (Nidasio G. , 2007).

Zara’s fashion is based on imitation; it copies designs from the catwalk and other spots and brings them to their customers at reasonable prices in as little as a couple of weeks. These prices are higher than many of other fashion retail outlets in the United Kingdom but they are considered reasonable when compared with the prices of the same designer clothes. Zaras’s product line mainly consists of a menswear line and a womenswear line. These fashion items are highly fashion-oriented and trendy. This product range is continually updated and any products (couple of) that do not do as well are taken off the shelves.

Because the prices of Zara are above H&M and because it follows the latest trends that are in fashion, I have place Zara on the higher side of trends and medium side of prices. Marks and Spencer’s average customer is mainly women aged between 35 and 54 who are wealthy and have an active lifestyle (Milord M. et al, 2004). M&S has a wide range of products available; clothing, footwear, home ware and financial services. However, our focus is only on its clothing and footwear sections (fashion retail items).

Even these are available in a wide range from menswear to womenswear to lingerie. Marks and Spencer retail fashion items are expensive and are targeted towards wealthy customers. However, this year the volume of the sales was more and customers bought items at lower prices (Your M&S, 2008). When compared to H&M, Zara and BHS when it comes to trends, it is less trendy. Therefore I have placed M&S on the higher side of price but comparatively lower side on trends. H&M is a fashion retail outlet that is focused on providing fashionable clothes to average consumers of the United Kingdom.

This means that the price range is comparatively lower than Zara and Marks and Spencer. The product range of H&M is trendier than Marks and Spencer maybe because of the difference in the customers that are targeted. However it is slighter less trendy than Zara because of the reason that Zara follows the designer fashions while H&M is a brand that has its own personal style (H&M, 2008). Because of these reasons I have placed H&M on the lower side of prices and the higher than Marks and Spencer and lower than Zara when it comes to trends. In the end we have BHS.

BHS is a home ware store therefore the main concentration is not on clothing only. This is a reason why it is low when it comes to trends compared to H&M and Zara. When compared with Marks and Spencer, the product range is slight trendier. For all these reasons I have placed it higher than Marks and Spencer and lower than H&M and Zara when it comes to trends. Now we come to the price. The price range of BHS is higher than H&M and is roundabout the same as Zara. It is also lower than Marks and Spencer and this is the reason I have place it where it is on the perceptual map.

Conclusion

In conclusion, I would say that as mentioned in the beginning, the competition in the fashion retail market of the United Kingdom is very strong. No company can do with not following the trends and charging higher prices. This is the reason why they are tightly together on the perceptual. The slight differences between all their positioning is possibly because of the different target customers that they serve to. Such a map can be used by organizations to find out where they stand when compared with the rest of the organizations in the industry.