In early November, shoppers visiting the Zara store in Istanbul discovered little labels attached to clothes that said, “I made this item you are going to buy, but I didn’t get paid for it.” When we dug into the details, we discovered that Zara had partnered with a Turkish factory whose unethical owner disappeared overnight, stealing his workers’ wages. Those workers were trying to get Zara to give them the money they were owed, but they had yet to receive a single lira.
The plight of these workers became a major news story, with media outlets around the world reporting on it. Now it looks like all of this had a real impact on consumers’ image of Zara’s brand.
Digimind, an agency that analyzes consumer sentiment on social media, looked at social sentiment for Zara in October and November. In general, 21% of Twitter comments about Zara on social media are negative, with 79% either positive or neutral. However, this went up significantly starting in November, when news about the factory began to hit the press. Negative sentiment about Zara went up by 24% month-over-month, with negative mentions going up at a rate of 35% week-over-week.
“What’s also important to note here is that in general, we are seeing the number of social mentions for Zara overall increase month-over-month and week-over-week, per the timing of the story breaking,” a PR rep for Digimind clarifies. In other words, the sheer amount of negativity toward Zara went up, since there was more discussion about the brand than usual in the weeks following the story.
Meanwhile, Zara has still not paid the workers the 2.7 million Turkish lira they’re asking for. This amounts to only 0.01% of the net sales that Inditex, Zara’s parent company, made in the first quarter of 2017. It seems that Zara has taken a rather large hit to its brand for a relatively small amount of money.