STRATEGIC SEDUCTION- Spotlight on ZARA’s window design

Just think of great fashion brands like Gucci, Prada, Chanel, or Escada. What comes to your mind?

Probably you will think of  expensive clothing everyone wants to have, but only few can afford to buy. Maybe you also see in mind high fashion magazines. Magazines with flawless looking models wearing coats, shoes or trousers of the latest trends. Magazines full of the great designers’ impressive advertisement.


Gucci promoting the trends for next season

Then, think of ZARA.

Which picture builds up in your mind? Do you see the same as when thinking of the other brands? Same magazine pages full of ZARA’s clothing?

No, probably you do not have this image in your mind.

Understandable, because it simply cannot be there- ZARA does not advertise.

Instead of showing in magazines what you should wear this season, ZARA’s marketing strategy focuses on top store locations and a scarce number of quickly changing products. Unlike other fashion brands, the spanish retailer does not aim at predicting future trends. On the contrary, its outlook is the present tense. Experts often try to sum up this phenomenon as “Reacting, rather than predicting” or they claim that “ZARA’s designers let themselves inspire by the great brands”.

In other words, the retailer likes copying! And in deed, copying is an essential part of ZARA’s marketing strategy and one important reason for its tremendous success all over the world.

Basically, we all know how a free market economy works: We consumers buy goods we (think we) need. Consequently, a company can only generate profit when meeting market demands. But what about a new style? Would we buy it? I mean do we consumers really need it?

Well, I suppose not. Not until we feel that we need it, because we want to be trendy and to be in-style. The consequence obviously has to be that firms who want to sell special clothing for which we do not feel a need yet, have to create this need, first. And this is exactly what advertisement does: It is the creation of a need. A need whose satisfaction is not necessary for physical survival. A non necessary need?! This is definitely a contradiction! But why do we, for ourselves, see such a little desire as a need?

Maybe, you can take the example of falling in love: It is irresponsible and even though you often know better, you do nevertheless everything to be with the person you are in love with. Even if you want to avoid thinking of the one, you simply can’t. When advertisement turns us into lovesick fools who would do anything to get the object of desire, retailers succeed.

Due to the fact that ZARA picks up the design of brands like Gucci which have initiated some big campaigns before, ZARA is lucky: For ZARA it is simply not necessary anymore  to establish special clothing “needs” by themselves. Thanks to Gucci and Prada, this has already been done. Need is already there for this style and also enough of us willing to do anything to be together  with our new “one and only”. And now ZARA is producing exactly this new clothing. Producing our new “one and onlys”, our new lovers for a week or two, our new objects of desire. Since we have already been blinded by the other brands’ advertisement, we cannot help longing for that product, but we do not know yet that our longing will be fulfilled.

Tricky ZARA, you play with our feelings and innermost wishes!

But let us go further:

The desire is in us now. But at which point exactly does ZARA catch us? Are we walking through the city already knowing that ZARA has got what we so deeply long for? That ZARA has got this special Gucci style, now?

No, of course we do not know that- I mean, how could we? ZARA does not advertise, remember?

Right, but then: how do we get into ZARA?

Take this metaphorical question literally and you will get enlightment…

As in daily life, again, we let ourselves be attracted by outward appearance:

ZARA’s key to success is their special window design. Their shop windows are a powerful communication tool designed by a specialized team to highlight the most outstanding pieces of ZARA’s collection. According to ZARA’s philosophy of fast fashion, the windows are constantly renewed.


ZARA has developed its own “brand language”: Dramatically grouping together mannequins under spotlight against neutral backgrounds.

However, their creation does not happen randomly. When we customers have a look into ZARA’s shop window, we see a masterpiece of exact execution of a strict design plan where nothing is left to chance. For each collection the headquarters create new display designs. To ensure that they have the look that really gets us into their stores, the design team has a laboratory in Inditex’ headquarters. Here, they try out different compositions in several 25 full-size store windows with variable lighting and display platforms.

Particularly the lighting concept primarily based on accentuation of the mannequins and products is enormously important to ZARA’s founder Amancio Ortega. Because of this fact, his team tries out all possible looks and different lighting for the real store window at dim days, bright days and even at night.

In general, the emotional element in ZARA’s window is the light: Spotlight sets the accent on desired goods, which then enforces our desire and makes it impossible to flee from the consumption of these goods. We won’t be free human beings again, until we have finally purchased it. We simply have no choice.

No longer is it love. It is compulsion.

If your friends ever tell you again they are in love with ZARA, take a second and just smile.


Probably they have just been strategically seduced without even noticing.