Responsible be established to measure and monitor

Responsible
management has become more and more important in an era when sustainability and
corporate social responsibility (CSR) are increasingly emphasized. Under such
circumstances, a management control system is required to be established to
measure and monitor the social responsibility engagement of a firm, so as to be
accountable for the stakeholders (Durden, 2008). Facing the new trends,
knowledge of business ethics principles must be based on a deep understanding
of the responsibilities of leaders and managers to proactively prevent
irresponsible activities, and a moral reflexive practice is also necessary
(Hibbert & Cunliffe, 2015). Corporate responsibility management can be
carried out in various fields, such as marketing, HRM, accounting/controlling,
and business information systems. With regard to marketing, the companies
nowadays are faced with more and more criticism of the sole profit-gaining
goals, and the concept of marketing needs to be re-branded in order to cope
with the problems of sustainability (Seretny & Seretny, 2012). Attitudes
should be changed, and modern marketing should be implemented, so as to change
consumption models by means of commercial proposal creation. In this way, it is
expected that the future can be shaped positively of both social life and
market exchange. The companies should therefore show an active attitude towards
responsible management to the consumers, according to honesty and openness
principles in marketing communication (Seretny & Seretny, 2012).

Inditex Clothing
Group is a multinational apparel firm with its headquarters located in Galicia,
Spain. The Group is the largest fashion group worldwide, with more than 7,200
stores in over 90 countries around the world. The flagship brand of Inditex is
Zara, a world-famous fast fashion brand (Inditex, 2017). The Group’s business
model is unique, because they do not commit a big proportion of production for
the next season of fashion, but rather only committing a small percentage. They
use consumer feedback and an efficient network of production to replenish shops
with different and new clothes on a weekly basis. New fashion styles are made
in only 5 days, and 60% of the production is carried out locally to decrease
lead-times. In this way, the Group can launch new clothes within 15 days from
design to production to shop shelves (Crofton & Dopico, 2007). However,
such a fast fashion business model has been increasingly called in question due
to the related social responsibility and sustainability issues such as resource/energy
waste, consumerism, and environmental pollution (Mcneill & Moore, 2015),
which needs to be appropriately addressed by Inditex to maintain its reputation.

We Will Write a Custom Essay Specifically
For You For Only $13.90/page!


order now

2.
Main Body

2.1
Socially responsible marketing

The concept of
socially responsible marketing has been put forward in an early time. In 1996,
Sirgy and Lee argued that traditional marketing’s objectives with growth and
financial orientation had been criticized by ethicists of marketing, since
these goals could bring about marketing practices that were socially
irresponsible. Marketing management ought to be based on the concept of
quality-of-life, requiring marketers to try to improve consumer wellbeing and
meanwhile do not harm other stakeholders. General marketing goals ought to be
changed from the marketing mix goals to embrace socially responsible marketing
(Sirgy & Lee, 1996). As early as 1988, Abratt and Sacks put forward the
opinion that companies could be both profitable and socially responsible if
they practiced societal marketing concept. The authors held that firms applying
this idea would be those most possible to make long-term profits and be
beneficial to society at large. Laczniak and Murphy (2006) also suggested that
if marketing managers expected to carry out marketing activities with high
levels of social responsibility and business ethics, a holistic and connective
approach should be adopted (Laczniak & Murphy, 2006). This may be said to
be in accordance with the concept of integrated marketing communication (IMC),
including not only advertising, promotion, direct marketing, personal sales,
but also public relations and sponsorship (Amoako, et al., 2012), to transmit
to the consumers a comprehensive and consistent company and product image. By
taking advantage of IMC, the companies can engage in effective public relations
marketing campaigns to build a brand image that is socially responsible.

A good reputation
obtained through effective marketing publicity can help enhance not only the
brand image and brand equity of the companies, but also their profitability and
market value (Khojastehpour & Johns, 2014; Matsubara, et al., 2010).
Therefore, the companies should apply a stakeholder orientation and
operationalize it at both behavioral and organizational cultural levels. An
effective stakeholder-orientation marketing management system can significantly
positively influence the employee commitment, reputation, financial
performance, and marketing performance of a company (Gonzalezpadron, 2011). To
a fast fashion company such as the Gap Inc. or Inditex, corporate social
responsibility management can help construct a solid stakeholder relationship,
which will in turn improve employee motivation and attraction, brand
reputation, consumer perception and profitability. By engaging in CSR management
activities, fast fashion firms can gain a sustainable growth (Arrigo, 2013).
For fashion companies, the main effect of perceived CSR activities and
motivation on company reputation and trust among consumers is significant (Ju
& Chung, 2015), indicating that fast fashion companies should make use of
socially responsible marketing campaigns to improve their brand image and
reputation to achieve sustainable growth.

2.2
The problems of Inditex that should be solved through socially responsible
marketing

In recent years,
this industry has had a poor reputation due to many reasons. The key players in
the industry, such as H&M, has been criticized in terms of human rights and
environmental issues. The problems include water waste, inadequate employee
diversity, exploitation of the workers in poor countries, and transparency
(Kaye, 2012). It was argued that the fast fashion sector had negatively
impacted the environment in every step of its production and marketing
activities, from fiber processing, growing component parts and textile
manufacturing, specialized finishing techniques’ completion, shipping of
finished clothes to a retail store or distribution center, finally to the
consumers (Dickson, 2010). Fast fashion means to be fast, in both production
and consumption, which can lead to huge wastes, in an already
resource-constrained world today.

According to Heale
(2013), apart from environmental issues, the fast fashion industry also has
their global operations, with factories dispersed geographically, in different
countries and regions. Thus, it is very difficult for the fast fashion
companies to deal with the many problems in social responsibility such as
product quality, sustainability, labor and safety throughout their value chain.
The challenge may be said to be omnipresent. It was then argued by Fleenor
(2017) that when retail firms reacted to the demand to offer consumers cheaper,
more and faster products, quite a few major fashion firms had obtained
reputations for being human rights abusers, polluters and outliers in the
progress towards social responsibility.

The Zara brand
under the flag of Inditex Group, faced with so much criticism, has been engaged
in a set of initiatives to take its social responsibility. For instance, to
implement the sustainability ideology, ZARA develops special eco-efficient
management systems for its stores, including all processes from store design,
cooling, heating, lighting equipment and system, to decoration and furniture
recycling. The company also tries to reduce waste generation by recycling the
security tags and hangers that are gathered in the stores, to be processed into
other useful items. Awareness is also enhanced among team members of
sustainable practices. Regarding customer services, the company uses biodegradable
plastic or paper bags to prevent environmental pollution. Zara also claims that
they use organic cotton to produce the clothes, without chemical agents and
pesticides. However, such claims are inevitably viewed by many as a kind of
green washing, because there are still reports revealing the social misconducts
of Inditex Group. For instance, it was reported that the Group was buying
viscose fiber from plants generating high pollution levels, and many plants
across Asia as the suppliers of Inditex had been dumping significant toxic
waste water into waterways, leading to severe environmental pollution that
exposed local people and particularly workers to toxic chemicals (ProjectJust,
2017). In the 2012 Australian Fashion Report, it was revealed that Inditex did
not publicly share the aggregated wage information, and merely 1-25% of the
traced facilities of Inditex paid a living wage (ProjectJust, 2017). Under such
circumstances, the Group ought to actively engage in socially responsible
marketing activities and campaigns to save its public image, and to mitigate
the misunderstanding of the social public. 

2.3
The recommendations

In view of the
situations described above that may severely damage the brand image and
reputation of Inditex (ZARA) negatively, effective responsible marketing
communications should be carried out to reverse the situation. It is held that
the commitment to socially responsible marketing to solve the problem of the
Group’s reputation deterioration is not only necessary, but also reasonable and
feasible.

Firstly, it is
necessary and reasonable to carry out socially responsible marketing
activities, because in today’s world, a good brand image/reputation represents
the long-term sustainable competitive advantage of a company. Brand image can
potentially lead to a competitive advantage, while brand reputation can
potentially result in a sustained competitive advantage (Sweeney, 2007). A
socially responsible corporate culture not only can improve financial
performance, but also can positively influence reputation, which, in turn, will
play a mediating role between corporate culture and financial performance
(Flatt & Kowalczyk, 2008). As a world-famous fashion retailer, if Inditex
does not attach importance to socially responsible brand image/reputation, its
long-term sustainable development will be negatively influenced. More
importantly, as a corporate firm enjoying high industrial and market status,
the Group should also regard CSR as a matter within its duties, to actively
contribute to the development and progress of human society.

Secondly, socially
responsible marketing is also feasible as far as Inditex is concerned. The
Group is very profitable over the years, allowing it to have enough financial
strengths to engage in socially responsible marketing. It was reported by the
Guardian (2015) that Inditex Group witnessed a net profit up to £847 million in
the first half of 2015. There had been strong business performance across all
of Zara’s markets, leading to profit growth at more than 25%, due to the
increase of like-for-like sales across 88 countries. In 2016, the profits of
the Group again jumped by 8%, from 9.4 billion euros to 10.5 billion euros, due
to new store opening and successful investment in e-business channels (BBC News,
2016). The sound financial performance can give the Group enough capital to
engage in socially responsible marketing activities.

Based on the above
financial advantages, it is recommended that the company may carry out
integrated marketing communications (IMC) to comprehensively and consistently
publicize its social responsibility initiatives, by a number of changes to its
existing marketing system, so that its brand image/reputation as a socially
responsible corporate citizen can be further improved:

1) Advertising

Originally,
Inditex placed emphasis on advertising by the stores per se. This is enough if
the socially responsible marketing orientations are not considered. However,
with the increasingly high demand for the company to take its social responsibilities,
store advertising alone is far from adequate. Thus, it is recommended that Zara
should engage in holistic advertising campaigns through various channels
focusing solely on the CSR and sustainability slogans of Inditex, such as TV,
outdoors, magazines, and online channels to propagate its socially responsible
ideology (White, et al., 2015). In every store, billboards and banners can be
arranged to publicize CSR and sustainability ideas. For example, the banners
can be hung at the ceilings with the slogans such as “We are all responsible
for sustainability”. Display windows can also be decorated with such slogans in
a graceful and exquisite rather than rigid style. Public service advertising
should be launched on TV and online, based on cooperation with various
governmental social welfare departments and the NGOs engaging in CSR and
sustainability causes.

2) Promotion

With regard to
promotion, socially responsible concepts should also be implemented. For
example, the sales and bargain activities of the offline stores can be combined
with used-clothes donation activities (Ha-Brookshire & Hodges, 2009), with
the customers donating their used-clothes for philanthropic undertakings being
given a certain level of discount or reward.

3) Direct
sales

This is mainly
conducted via the official website of Inditex, and the approaches such as email
sending, with social responsibility and sustainability as the topic, combined
with electronic coupons for the consumers. The website should have conspicuous
slogans and sections addressing CSR and sustainability aspect on the main page.
The emails, phone messages or other online information sent by the company
directly to the consumers should have information specifically publicizing the
CSR and sustainable initiatives engaged in by the Group.

4) Personal
selling

The sales
representatives and shop assistants of Inditex in various countries directly
deal with and serve customers. They should be trained to have sustainable and
CSR orientations and awareness (Valentin, et al., 2015). For example, they
should be educated that in customer services, the concepts of environmental
protection should be actively promoted, by kindly reminding the consumers to
use paper and biodegradable bags. The promotional materials used by the sales
representatives and the stores should both have conspicuous sections and
slogans emphasizing the CSR and sustainability orientation of Inditex, with the
proposals such as reducing wastes, reducing landfill, water saving, and others.
The achievement made by Inditex in these aspects should be publicized.

5) Public
relations

In this regard,
the company should carry out a set of philanthropic and donation activities to
help the socially disadvantageous group of people such as the poor, the
disabled and old people (Wise & Ali, 2010). The donation list for major
disasters should always have Inditex’ name on it. Various philanthropic
initiatives should be carried out by the Group to illustrate that they are
embarking on true socially constructive activities by sincere payout, rather
than only for the sake of green washing. Philanthropic foundations should be
established by cooperating with government agencies, NGOs and industrial
players, with all the initiatives being publicized extensively.

6) Sponsorship

Regarding sponsorship,
the Group should pay special attention to those philanthropic and social
welfare projects and events, rather than only focusing on fashion events.

3. Conclusion

As time passes,
the fashion industry will present new challenges to the companies which will
have to learn and adapt. As a globally famous fashion retailer, Inditex Group
has been enjoying good financial performance and profitability for many years.
Now that the requirements by the consumers and social public for CSR and
sustainability have become more and more explicit, and the Group should take
advantage of its strong financial resources to carry out integrated marketing
communications, to build its socially-responsible brand image/reputation. The
Group should lay emphasis on sincerity based on practical actions, combined
with effective external publicity, so that the attitude of the social public
can be changed towards a positive direction. With the continuous effort made by
the Group, their intent will be seen by the public through their sincere
offerings given by the Group to repay their debt to society.

x

Hi!
I'm Joan!

Would you like to get a custom essay? How about receiving a customized one?

Check it out