Zara – How an amazing brand perception creates employer challenges – Mike Ellingham – Part 2/3

Within the retail sector, candidates are thinking with their consumer hat on. They put their consumer brand into their employer brand.”

This follows part one of my three-part talk to Mike Ellingham about recruitment marketing, agency and employer branding and consultant productivity. Mike is Director of MESO Marketing Limited.

Steve: Is the recruitment agency brand becoming as important as the brands they represent?

Mike: Increasingly so – in specialised recruitment candidates are looking for recruiters that understand their sector, understand them, build relationships, and trust them to source the right job. The successful niche recruiters I work with certainly have that. They have a brand reputation for providing good service.

When we look at the employer brand of large companies – I’ve researched who are the most attractive employers in the retail sector, and Zara comes up as the most attractive employer for candidates in the UK.

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However, this can give Zara a retention issue because candidates join Zara expecting it to be fantastic place to work. But underneath it all it’s a still a retail job, it’s merchandising, it’s customer service, it’s tough work. So actually that positive customer brand perception gives them a problem. From an employer point of view, they have to make sure that they’re looking at what their employees want. A good working environment, to be promoted, to be developed, and not just a reflection of their branding that might actually be more about their customer brand.

Steve: Could you define why Zara had been so successful there?

Mike: Well, ironically when candidates look for customer service roles in retail they have an emotional attachment to a brand as customer. So many candidates transpose that into what they think it will be like to work for them – innovative, fashionable, leading-edge etc. – but this doesn’t necessarily translate into what they are like as an employer. Candidates would do better researching the company’s employer reputation – discovering businesses such as John Lewis or one of the other retailers who have good reputations for how they care about their employees.

So I think within the retail sector, candidates are thinking with their consumer hat on. They put their consumer brand into their employer brand.

Mike Ellingham (@mikeellingham) is Director of MESO Marketing Limited.

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