Caroll’s distribution network is based on a system of franchises located in cities of more than 100,000 inhabitants. Since 1993-1994, the network is composed of branches and affiliated independents commissioned on ready-to-wear clothes’ sales. Caroll’s stores have a size between 100 and 150 meters squared proposing a clear, modern, and discrete installation where the beige color and enameled wood dominate. In very big French and European cities Caroll has bigger shops (between 200 and 500 meters squared). Stocks and provisioning are managed by the central station.
The brand is also present under the form of corners. Several partnerships have been created entailing 2,500 additional points of sales such as with Galleries Lafayette in France and El Corte Ingles in Spain (Distrijob. fr, n. d. ). About international sales through the brand name “Caroll Paris”, we saw that Caroll is already implemented in French bordering countries like Spain and Switzerland and further countries like Dubai and Tunisia but a first important drawback for the company appearing here is that it is not present in emerging countries where its competitors already are.
It could be a real threat for Caroll entering that new market because it could be very difficult to become better than those well established ready-to-wear companies. Knowing that the clothing market is a very competitive market, we will focus on the two main competitors of Caroll within the middle class market position which are H&M and Zara in France. They can be considered as the current leaders of the worldwide fashion retailing. Zara owns 850 stores all over the world.
It has adopted the same business model as Caroll which is providing high quality products sold at accessible prices. Nevertheless, it has a lower quality and lower price than Caroll. Its promotional strategy is nearly null knowing that the company keeps a maximum of credit to open new stores faster. To promote its brand, H&M adopted a different strategy based on supports made by pop stars in order that customers compare themselves to them. Concerning its positioning, we can consider that H&M’s quality is even lower than Zara’s. It is the same for pricing.
But with a 556 million Euros turnover, H&M is the French middle range retailers’ leader, directly followed by Zara with 340 million Euros in 2006. For Caroll, it is around 222 million Euros. Other competitors can be cited here like GAP, Mango, and Gerard Darel. The first thing to know about Caroll’s promotional is that in order to boost its sales and to retain its clients, Caroll uses a very particular technique: no fidelity neither card nor products promotions nor gift checks used and it works. To increase its turnover, Caroll chose to bet on pure direct marketing.
Female customers are invited to discover new collections by mail or to come in their local shop to get a free gift like an umbrella or bag. This is also a way to create a customer database because clients fill a contact list while receiving their gift. Caroll uses nearly 25 percent of its communication budget for direct marketing (the average market rate being 10 percent) dedicated to increase the customer loyalty (Masson, 2001). The remaining 75 percent are spent for Medias. This part of the communication budget is directed to increase the brand notoriety.
Every year, Caroll plans a very big communication campaign mostly targeting female French magazines like Marie-Claire, Marie France, and Mme Figaro. For example, this year, Caroll chose to participate in an official partnership within the framework of the special operation called “La Rose Marie-Claire”: this is a rose, symbol of worldwide little girls’ education, sold aiming to provide financial aids for association in favor of the scholarship of disadvantaged little girls in France and in the rest of the globe.
The television promotional events are organized with famous and popular TV shows in order to talk about this action and all La Rose’s representatives wear Caroll’s clothes and accessories (Caroll’s_Staff, The latest news, n. d. ). To conclude, we can see that Caroll is facing very critical issues for the future of its business. First of all, Caroll has to choose a new position within the French market as the middle market is weakening. Second, the positioning needs to take into account that the French clothing market is getting more and more competitive.
Third, it has to develop itself in emerging countries where competitors already made a great penetration and it could be very difficult to enter those markets so late. Added to a penetration in the Chinese market targeting the middle class market, it is critical that Caroll changes its positioning. Finally, knowing that the purchasing power of European female is increasing and also with the booming of new technologies, it could be a very great idea to develop an online purchasing platform.