Zara is the flagship chain store of the Inditex group, the world’s largest fashion retailer. Louis Vuitton fashion director Daniel Piette describes Zara as “possibly the most innovative and devastating retailer in the world.”
Zara succeeds because its business model is built around speed – it’s called fast fashion. Zara needs just two weeks to develop a new garment compared to the six month industry average, and launches around 10,000 new designs a year. “In the fast world of fashion, speed wins. At Zara, speed means pinpointing trends early, coming in with appealing designs quickly and getting them into stores fast.”
With lots of new styles every week in Zara stores, customers know they will find something cool and exciting when they shop. They also know they must buy fast, because Zara replaces styles very quickly. “The result: the average Zara customer visits a Zara store an average of 17 times a year, compared to an average of three visits per year for customers of other clothiers.”
Zara stocks lots of fresh merchandise and avoids having too much stale merchandise that can be moved only by lowering the price. Fast revenues and very little discounting lead to superior financial results.
To link its “hundreds of factories to its hundreds of stores – each with the right assortment of colors and sizes”, Zara needs state of the art distribution and logistics.
Most success stories of provocatively challenging customers and taking them out of their comfort zone come when a customer knows the status quo is no longer an option.
A brilliant example of an Aha! guided discovery process that also demonstrates the seductive power of self-persuasion comes from from John Stegner, a creative catalyst who worked as a manager for a U.S. billion dollar sized manufacturer.
Stegner believed his company was wasting millions of dollars through wasteful purchasing practices. He believed the potential savings were huge. “I thought we had an opportunity to drive down purchasing costs not by two per cent but by something in the order of $1 billion over the next five years”, said Stegner.
To capture these savings Stegner knew he would have to persuade his bosses that the savings were possible and a concerted effort across the firm was worthwhile. And herein lay the problem. Few of his bosses shared Stegner’s views that their firms purchasing practices were riddled with inefficiencies.
To overcome his bosses’ skepticism and complacency Stegner could have prepared a provocative, persuasive PowerPoint pitch supported by spreadsheets of credible data. That’s what most managers in a similar position would have done.
There are two different ways you can use insights to motivate customers to buy.
Not all insights are ground-breaking eureka moments where you experience a “dramatic feeling of sudden enlightenment that floods the mind when the right idea finally clicks into place”. The famous physicist Stephen Hawkins compares these “eureka” moments to sex.
In the 1990’s, neuroscientists had begun using functional magnetic imaging or fMRI machines to scan the brain. fMRI is related to the ordinary MRI that your doctor uses except fMRI maps brain activities detecting changes in blood flow.
Because of their motivating power, insights are often called Aha! or eureka moments. Our first story of a eureka moment comes from ancient Greece. If you remember Archimedes, who lived in ancient Syracuse, was the Leonardo da Vinci of his day. He was a “master of thought”, a mathematician, scientist, and inventor.
His King, Hieron II suspected his royal crown maker had cheated him. He asked Archimedes to determine whether a recently commissioned gold crown had been cheapened by the addition of cheaper, inferior silver.
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