MARIA B. DESIGNS (PVT) LTD
On a sultry June morning of 2003, Maria Belal sat in her Lahore office, evaluating options to respond to growing competition especially from the informal sector comprising tailors and karigars1. Added to this were the concerns raised by a recent research study conducted by students of a local business school and sponsored by Maria B. Designs (Pvt) Ltd. Her most urgent concern related to the diluting brand image of Maria B. Other issues of concern were:
The product line currently offered by Maria B. was confusing for the consumers; what should Maria B. do to remove this confusion?
Some consumers thought that Maria B. was too expensive; should Maria B. bring about any changes in its pricing p
olicy or should it try to maintain its premium image
by modifying the perception of these consumers?
Bridal wear, the flagship product of Maria B., was being offered at the same outlet along with other product lines; what should the company do to avoid any spillover effect of casual and formal lines on bridal wear?
The Fashion Industry of Pakistan
The fashion clothes industry in Pakistan traced its roots to a handful of designers in the big cities who had a natural flair for creativity. They designed as a hobby, primarily for their friends and relatives. A major change occurred in the 1990s as young people started taking up this field as a profession. The media started focusing on this industry and numerous make-up artists, fashion photographers, and professional models emerged. Fashion shows also became a norm both as a must have for designers and as a source of revenues. Fashion in Pakistan reached a point where there seemed to be no rules anymore and anything looked possible. Fashion designers claimed that they were opening the mind and imagination of the consumers towards a sense of freedom. Experimentation reigned supreme and fashion got bolder and more daring with an ultra modern attitude. The fashion industry in Pakistan consisted of two distinct sectors: the f ormal and informal sector. Both these sectors catered to different segments and operated in markedly different manners. Over the years the two sectors continued to adapt to the changing trends and together shaped the fashion scene in the country.
Craftsmen usually operating in t he informal cottage industry sector This case was written by Shariq Mustafa, Atia Mujib, and Mehmood Ahmed under the supervision of Professor Jawaid A Ghani to serve as a basis of class discussion rather than to illustrate either effective or ineffective handling of an administrative situation. This material may not be quoted, photocopied or reproduced in any form without the written consent of the Lahore U niversity Of Management Sciences.
© 2006 Lahore University Of Management Sciences
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The informal sector 2 had been the main source for fulfilling the fashion apparel needs of women in Pakistan and continued to give the formal sector a tough time. The sector consisted of individual tailoring shops, which were able to provide customized outfits for a minimal price. This gave consumers tremendous flexibility in terms of getting an outfit stitched and designed to their personal taste. Consequently it continued to be the preferred source for apparels among Pakistani women. The informal sector generally imitated designs introduced in the formal sector and sold them at lower prices. This sector, thus, catered to the price-sensitive customer who was willing to sacrifice brand image, design, quality and uniqueness.
The formal sector consisted of boutiques and professional designers who catered to a small but growing market for designer...