As environmental concerns become more crucial for consumers, companies in various industries try to distinguish themselves from their rivals by demonstrating commitment to environmental sustainability. It is particularly important in the competitive and dynamic fashion industry, where customer perception of the brand and a company image are crucial for survival (Grewal and Levy). That is why the Inditex Group, the company behind the Zara brand, pays a lot of attention to integrating environmental elements into its strategy. This fact is reflected in their 2011-2015 sustainability plan that incorporates the company’s aspirations to cut its CO2 footprint and decrease greenhouse gas emissions. Although the plan sounds appealing, some of the Inditex’s action lines may be questioned in terms of the feasibility considering the relatively short time allocated for their achievement.
Perhaps the most successful `actions that aim to make Zara’s strategy more sustainable are related to staff training and biodiversity projects. These activities build on already existing company plans. Furthermore, staff training allows achieving quick results and does not require significant resources. Zara’s commitment to the development of eco-friendly products is also achievable as the company does not set any specific targets in this area. On the other hand the strategy items that address store design and supplier relations seem to be too ambitious. Zara plans to refurbish all the stores to reduce carbon footprint as well as to build new stores according to their high environmental standards. However, Zara operates in a variety of markets, where sustainability is not addressed uniformly. The differences across countries in the level of infrastructure development, in the availability of materials and in the form of store ownership (rent or own store) can make it hard to obtain LEED certification or to achieve a 30% carbon footprint reduction. Moreover, in the relationships with suppliers Zara may not have sufficient bargaining power to enforce water management practices and improvement protocol.
Grewal, Dhruv, and Michael Levy. Marketing. 3rd. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill/Irwin, 2011. eBook.
"Strategic Environmental Plan 2011-2015." . Inditex Group. Web. 8 Jul 2013. <http://inditex.com/en/corporate_responsibility/environmental/strategic_plan>.