‘Pink or blue’ is a Saudi Arabian-based garments boutique that specializes in garments worn by pregnant women and newborn babies. The name of the owner of the boutique is Sondos Zaidi and its address is P.O.Box 7240, Jeddah 21462, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) (Pink or blue n.d.). It is believed that the trend of ill-fitting and uncomfortable dress wear, especially during the third trimester of pregnancy is fast disappearing, and more expectant mothers are investing in modern wear, including jeans and tops during this period. This paper would be considering the success story of ‘Pink or blue’, one of the flourishing boutiques located in bustling Al Rawdah Street in the second largest city of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Jeddah with a population of around 2.3 million. The main reason for the tremendous success of this boutique is that it has placed quality, comfort, and convenience as the most prioritized items, and delivered total happiness to pregnant clients and mothers-to-be.
It is believed that its constant passion for high quality and comfortable dresses for women and babies would endear it, imported from many nations of the world, and would endear it, not only to the people living in Jeddah but also people from other parts of the world for a long time to come. In a competitive age where convenience shopping has been taken for granted, ‘Pink or blue’ has strived to be one of the choicest shopping centers for a large selection and collection of maternity wear, babies wear, and other shopping accessories.
It is seen that the old-fashioned loosely fitting dresses worn by women in Jeddah during pregnancy have now changed, and women are now opting for more casual wear like jeans and tops. The accent is now on comfort and convenience, and perhaps less on traditional and conservative wear. It is seen that the ‘Pink or Blue’ boutique located in the major shopping locality of Al Rawdah Street in Jeddah is a trendsetter in dresses for expectant mothers and newborn babies. It has a wide and exclusive range of dresses and materials from several European countries.
The dress wear scene in Jeddah, one of the most cosmopolitan and modern cities in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has changed dramatically during modern times, and maternity dresses are no exception. Most pregnant women would like to wear clothes that do not show their pregnant condition, and yet are comfortable and durable, even if it were only for around nine months or so. Again, considering the fact that Jeddah is a particularly hot city, expectant mothers, whose metabolism would rise rapidly during pregnancy, would prefer cotton dresses, especially light and easy-flowing ones. Thus, in most cases, it would be better to purchase a couple of sizes larger for the second and third trimesters, which would be able to accommodate the increase in the bulk of expectant women. For small babies, the question of hygiene, comfort, and cleanliness are also important, and pink or blue dresses are basically meant for small infants. The pricing factor is also important, and therefore, the management ensures that the prices are commensurate with the quality and craftsmanship involved in making these dresses, best suited for pregnant women and small children. Thus, it is seen that the large response and clientele available to ‘Pink or blue’ could be in terms of its high quality of dresses and excellent servicing offered to customers. Moreover, the dresses stocked by this boutique are carefully selected from major top-quality merchandise manufacturers in the US, UK, Canada, Italy, and Australia. This report on the performance of ‘Pink or blue’ would lay emphasis on the quality and satisfaction aspects deemed by customers and would be as follows:
- Introduction – background of the boutique
- Situational analysis of the boutique
- Services offered
- Recommendations offered to improve services
An analysis of the ‘external macro-environment’ within which a firm operates is called a PEST analysis (Pest analysis, 2007). This could be in terms of political, economic, social, and technological factors that impinge upon the industry and its ultimate performance.
|1. Political |
Non-interference in business activities
Jeddah’s business norms are pro-active
Government has a positive attitude to business
|2. Economic |
Lower incidence of taxation
Not much impact of inflation
Currently, a fall in energy prices may affect business
Stable GDP rates
|4. Technological |
The accent is for high-quality products at reasonable prices
Modern servicing and communications systems are used
Internet marketing is widely in vogue
Technological advancement is reflected in the quality and servicing of products and their servicing aspects.
|3. Social |
Islamic laws are strict, but Jeddah has a comparatively cosmopolitan outlook
Male folks play predominant roles
Wealthy population with large spending capacity
Good attitude towards foreign goods and services
SWOT analysis is a tool for self-analysis of a firm and its environment. It is the first stage of organizing and planning for business growth and it assists businessmen to focus on key issues. “SWOT stands for strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. Strengths and weaknesses are internal factors. Opportunities and threats are external factors.” (Swot analysis: lesson, 2009).
|1. Strengths |
Changing trends suit business prospects
Sound spending potential in this region
Higher profit margins
Good location and infra-structure aids business
|2. Weaknesses |
Highly competitive business
Investments are high
Large stocks to be maintained
Availability of products dependent on foreign sources
|4. Threats |
Activities of competitors may affect business prospects
Customer preferences may change
Business relations with foreign sources may be disrupted
Energy pricing may affect business
|3. Opportunities |
Good business prospects
The ready and constant demand for products
Possibilities of setting up good online business
Good marketing and servicing potential
Porter’s Competitive “Five Forces” Model: This Model is used to conduct an outside the business unit stratagem tool that is used to analyze the value of the industry model, or in other words, to determine the sustainability and viability of the firm (Five competitive force model Porter, 2009).
- Bargaining powers of clients: In as far as this boutique is concerned, it is evident that bargaining powers would become necessary although it has earned remarkable goodwill and reputation in the market and also has a large profile of clients and customers for future in the maternity garments and infants wear categories. Standardization of pricing is a major advantage in this boutique and this is also the main attraction of clients.
- Bargaining powers of suppliers: This boutique places a lot of prominence on quality and believes in negotiating pricing with suppliers in order to ensure the minimum cost to the ultimate end user. Since prices may be negotiated before hand and for fixed time periods, the question of additional bargaining powers for suppliers does not arise. Most of the negotiations are carried out with vendors in US, UK, Canada, Italy and Australia, and thus quality and servicing factors are important determinants in this context. Moreover, it is also seen that competitiveness in the maternity dresses and infant wear business also needs to be maintained.
- Barriers to entry for new marketers would obviously arise since they need to match with existing pricing and service norms. This would ensure that only the best products backed by swift and speedy service are ultimately found in this boutique and meet buyers’ approval.
- Threats of alternative producers and sellers could erode the present market share of ‘Pink or blue’, thus reducing sales volumes. By resorting to undercutting and offering inducements to buyers in order to get a foothold in the market, new traders may also resort to sales gimmicks. The threats may be real and this boutique needs to take necessary precautions against them. It is to be ensured that the price negotiations and terms with vendors in certain parts of the world are more favourable to this store, as compared to price offered to buyers, thus earning profit margins. Moreover, ready stocks of different sizes and shades, to suit different tastes and preferences, health implications and convenience are all major considerations for this trade.
- Internal competition within the industry needs to be closely monitored, especially its nearest competitors in the locality. This could be ensured by quality and pricing considerations, better negotiations and having a regular stream of customers and clients. In this business, reputation is very important and ‘Pink or blue’ needs to ensure that no such action or event takes place that could jeopardise the reputation and goodwill of its business.
It is seen that there is a booming potential for maternity garments in Jeddah, since it is a cosmopolitan and the second largest city of the country (after Riyadh, the capital city). With a growing population of around 2.3 million, and large number of expatriate population, Jeddah is considered as a shoppers’ paradise and could rightfully boast of a large number of malls and shopping complexes. The location of this boutique is at the heart of the shopping locations in Al Rawdah Street, which has a large number of complexes housing consumer and business goods, catering to large number of shoppers from all over the world, especially from European and American destinations. While this certainly adds to the competitiveness of business in this locality, it also ensures that this boutique has a steady number of customers and clientele over the years, some of them being regular customers in this place.
Although it is seen that Saudi Arabian cultural moorings is based on fact that women should not venture outside in public without being fully clothed from head to toe, it is seen that these cultures are now not very much in vogue, especially among the younger generations. This being the case, even the maternity care aspects in terms of larger dresses for health, comfort and convenience are also to be considered.
At one time, what was thought best was loosely fitting garments that add more bulk to pregnant women, which accentuates their carrying status. But now, the accent is on how to give least outside notice of pregnant condition through use of tops and jeans and other accessories. According to Sondos Zaidi, the owner of the famous boutique ‘Pink or blue’, “Saudi women prefer separates – like pants and tops rather than dresses. Jeans can be worn casually or dressed up, they are slimming and always in fashion,” she said (Quraishi, n.d., para.11).
It is seen that the entire concept of potential motherhood has changed over time. There have been paradigm shifts in the way would-be-mothers look forward to their delivery and the clothes and accessories that are needed. Wearing loose garments is now considered very much out of fashion. “It is now fashionable to wear leggings or skinny jeans to highlight the slimmest area in the body and wear comfortable blouses on top. Maxi long dresses are very popular as they elongate the body. Silk and jersey dresses and tops are highly desired because of their feminity and the way they fall. Wearing belts is really stylish, whether worn over or under the belly,” Sondos said (Quraishi, n.d., para.12)
Another disadvantage of loose baggy clothing is that these cannot be used during post-maternity period when the mother’s figure returns to normal. Therefore, there is need for clothing that suits the figure of the wearer and is health protective, comfortable and convenient for use. There are many kinds of clothes and accessories that could be used by would-be-mothers, at attractive prices. The large clientele and customers that flock to this boutique are attracted by the high class of goods that are available and the reasonable prices that these goods cost. Although the prices in this boutique are between SR200 to SR5000, “most people buy clothes that are between SR500 and SR2000. “(Quraishi, n.d., para.15).
There are many boutiques that offer maternity clothes, accessories and other infant wear, but their quality and pricing may be different from that offered by ‘Pink or blue’. Moreover, the element of servicing is also very important. In most boutiques it is imperative that the display needs to be attractive and well arranged; the customers need not have to spend time and efforts for finding their requirements and the sales staff need to be polite, helpful and accommodating. All these features are found in this boutique in ample measures.
To make sure that customers are satisfied with this boutique, many factors need to be considered. For example; the stocks of different varieties of maternity wear from different vendors in UK, US, Australia, etc need to be displayed so that customers can make their choice. The service staff and their outlook towards customers, the arrangement of clothes and accessories, the aisle spacing, child safety measures at the stores, promotions, pricing, appearances, uniform of sales staff and personnel – all these small aspects count big when it comes to customer care and servicing.
It is also seen that there is a wide assortment and range of items available to suit individual requirements in this boutique. They also have an online store for the convenience of online customers. (Save the date: Babymel diaper bags are in, 2009). Thus, customers outside Jeddah could utilize the online facilities for booking orders and getting their goods shipped to various destinations of the world through online business of this boutique.
The main aspects that need to be considered during pregnancy are as follows:
One should wear clothes that are comfortable for one self and the unborn baby; the actual size of garments need to be worn, not the size that one would like to wear; and tight clothes are “uncomfortable” and do not do any good during these times (Rissakay07, 2009).
A lot would depend upon the style that one would wish to adopt and the mood preferred. “Stretchy gauchos create a trim, neat silhouette, topped by a loose peasant-style top. And just about any style made out of slinky, stretchy fabrics can go the distance right up to delivery day.” (Secrets of maternity dressing, 2006, p.1, Scour your closet-and your man’s, para.4). The main aspects that need to be considered is one of style, comfort and convenience and to ensure a smooth and safe delivery. It is also to be seen that maternity clothes need not be too expensive for they could be worn only for some time, and then could be used only for the next delivery. Thus, a balance needs to be struck between economy, convenience, comfort and elegance. It is not necessary that carrying women do not need to look heavier and plumper by wearing outlandish loose garments, nor too tight that could be very difficult to slip in and out from. The need for maternity clothes and their choice would stem from individual considerations as to what is good for oneself and the baby.
It is seen that the market is highly competitive and margins may be lowered, especially in the worldwide recession that has affected business dramatically. Therefore, it would be better if ‘Pink or blue’ could start their own brand, which could be well accepted. The ‘Pink or blue’ collections could cash on the goodwill existing in these markets for this boutique and could also bring in new customers for its own branded products.
Next, this boutique needs to consider the present trends and needs of the consumers for maternity wear, not only in the Jeddah domestic market but also in Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, since this would definitely impact upon future business and profits. By knowing and adopting to changing trends and designs, the health, hygiene and comfort aspects, it is possible that major changes in marketing, including online marketing could be used. It is seen that servicing and merchandising the product is more important than stocking them, and these aspects need to be well worked into by this boutique. By knowing about the future trends and meeting these needs, the boutique could do a world of good to itself and its clientele.
It is seen that retail trade worldwide is a booming industry involving around $180 billion (I want to start a lingerie boutique, but I’m not a lingerie designer or a lingerie model, can I, 2009). The retail trade especially garments in Saudi Arabia, and its second largest city, Jeddah is also on the move and would be rising exponentially in coming years. Besides this, the population of KSA is rising from its present levels of 24.3million (Part one: the sound of silence, 2003).
Nearly 10% of this population is found in Jeddah city and the economy is growing well. Therefore, there is tremendous scope for all kinds of trade, including retail trade in garments and accessories. What this boutique needs to do is to understand the pulse of the market on domestic, regional and global levels (for internet business) and accordingly plan the inventories. It could also be seen in terms of better business through better use of merchandising, customer servicing and better response to market overtures.
Finally, it would not be unreasonable to state that this business has exceptional potential for growth and development in later years, and given the right product mix, judicious investments, wise use of resources and excellent marketing and servicing efforts, it would not be long before ‘Pink or blue’ could rightly take its place as one of the foremost retailers in maternity garments in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
Moreover, it is seen that although the worldwide recession has seriously hit European and American economies, conditions have slowly begun to improve and it would take a little more time for the global economies to revive themselves. However, in the case of KSA and Jeddah, it is seen that the population is rising, with more accent on health care, comfort and convenience of mothers-to-be and this would have favourable impact upon business prospects of this boutique. Moreover, worldwide business growth and visits of foreigners and expatriates would contribute to a wider clientele base for this boutique and help it to become one of the best known retailers of mothers’ wear and infant wear in this country.
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