How Mango used Localisation and Internationalisation to Conquer High Street Global Fashion

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How Mango used Localisation and Internationalisation to Conquer High Street Global Fashion

Mango, the once small Barcelona fashion store, has gone global. In this article, Spanish translator and localisation expert, Tania Gonzalez Veiga, looks at how Mango used localisation and internationalisation to expand globally and become a high street name…

Huge companies don’t just “play” with tangible goods, but want to be a living part of a culture. This is the motto of Enric Casi [below], Director General of the Spanish corporate group Mango which designs, makes and sells clothes for women.

Enric Casi in a Mango shop

Mango is the second largest exporter of the Spanish textile-producing sector and has more than 2,415 shops on five continents, with 150 new shops opening each year. Enric Casi says that “the challenge is to strengthen the position in every country”.

Having been hit by the economic and financial crisis, the market, and especially companies in the Spanish textile-producing sector, Mango was able to recover thanks to globalisation.

Numbers from 2010 prove it: 81% of Mango’s turnover came from the international market, with 19% coming from Spain.

– But how did the corporate group adjust its products to different markets?
– How did Mango come into contact with so many different customers from different cultures?

But first, let’s take a look at the beginning of the company:

Mango: The Company

The Spanish company was founded in the 1980s by Isak Andic [below], a Sephardi Jew from Turkey, who, at first, sold clothes to other companies. As for the name of the company, Andic was inspired by a fruit with a sweet and strong taste and which has the same name in almost every country: Mango. That’s why the name of a fruit became a world-wide known clothing brand.

The first store was opened in the Paseo Gracia in Barcelona in 1984 and a year later, four other stores were opened in this city. From then on, the expansion of the company started in Spain. Because of the growing number of locations in Spain, the storage, logistics and distribution system for products needed to be improved. In 1992, the 100th store was opened and at the same time international expansion started with two Mango stores being opened in Portugal.

In 1997, for the first time in the company’s history, the sales abroad were higher than the national sales.

Let’s take a look at how this was made possible:

An internal structure designed for internationalisation

Mango is a Catalan company and has its head office in Barcelona (Spain). It is divided into several departments in order to serve customers on the national and international market, that is, where the company is already established or where it plans to open a new shop in the future.

These departments enable cross-border trade, for example when contacting suppliers, producing clothes, or selling them in foreign subsidiaries.

The main departments that deal with the internationalisation of the company are:

a)    Department for Expansion: The main task is to represent the company to the outside world by opening new shops all over the world. This department is made up of people with different nationalities and department heads from the target countries who work together. They belong to a certain working group, depending on what they are dealing with and which geographical location are from and they are in charge of the organisation of new franchise openings in other countries.

b)    Department for Import/Export: The task is to coordinate and control the distribution of the goods, starting at the suppliers to the company, and from the company to the shops all over the world. They also have to deal with the national legal system of every country and the monitoring of transportation.

c)    PR Department: The task is to provide internal and external information to the national and international media in order to bring the latest news about the company. This department is in constant contact with fashion magazines, newspapers, etc.

All of these working areas have limited spheres of competence (sometimes adjoining areas), although they have one common goal: dealing with cultural barriers in different countries to introduce the product of the company.

But what do we mean when talking about cultural barriers?

– New societal frameworks: The personal preferences of customers and cultural conventions vary from country to country. Substantial cultural and religious differences in a country can represent a huge barrier for the company.

New economic framework: The item prices can vary, depending on the country, the shipping costs, custom tariffs, fees and other costs, in order to find the right balance. On the other hand, the nature of the clients and also the purchasing power vary from country to country.

New legal frameworks: The legal provisions, the contract rules for employees, the management of shops, the product presentation and many other legal standards of the countries vary the way new shops are opened and even whether they are open or not.

The internal structure of Mango shows the great importance of cultural understanding, especially when focussing on externalization. The languages also play a very important role because they are the basic element of a culture.

Method: from testing to introducing

The main internationalisation tool of Mango is franchising. On the one hand, the fashion chain counts on Spanish shops and, on the other hand, on international ones.

Mango clothing on catwalk

Although the national market changes swiftly, strategic decisions of the franchisor are based on the market situation in Spain. This knowledge is then sold from the franchisor to the franchisee that opens new shops by taking into consideration the previously named frameworks.

In the Spanish shops it is decided what people like and what they do not like, in the end the information is given to the franchise stores who can act faster and be much more diverse. But the franchise system of Mango has one distinctive feature: the goods are provided on consignment, which means the franchisee only pays for the goods that were sold. The company keeps surplus goods and sells them in outlet stores or other franchise shops who might sell them as well.

The company knows the difficulties the international stores have to deal with and do not want to place an additional burden on them. And it is because of this internal organisation and the expansionism that the linguistic field becomes more important, and also the translation field for the textile and clothing industry. It is necessary to have language specialists and cultural experts who cooperate with the company.

But Mango is not the only textile and clothing company that follows this path. Another Spanish fashion company in the field of “low cost fashion” which is internationally very successful is Inditex. The growing Galician company Bimba y Lola is another example of a company that relies on the services of language specialists and cultural experts who act within the company because of its desire to expand.

Author: Tania Gonzalez Veiga

Bibliographic references

Cubillo Pinilla, José María. Internacionalización de Mango/MNG [online]. Available in  ICEX: www.icex.es  Date accessed: 06/09/2013.

Rodríguez-Donaire, Silvia; Casi, Enric; Carbonell Xavier. Mango S.A.: Reinventando el sector de la moda [online]. Available in: “Universia Business Review”, 2009. Date accessed: 07/09/2013.

José Cano, María; Beviá, Begoña; Centenera, Jesús. La internacionalización de la empresa española [online]. Available in www.eoi.es , 2010. Date accessed 07/09/2010.

© 2000 – 2012 Mango-On line, S.A. Mango. (www.mango.es). Date accessed: 08/09/2013
ALD Advising Managerial S.L company. Business Go On.

Katia Reed
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