Maria B. Designs (Pvt.) Ltd


Maria B. was a leading player in the fashion clothing industry of Pakistan. Her designs comprised women's casual, formal and bridal wear. A consumer study found that purchase of casuals was impulsive, triggered by the start of a new season. Formal wear was bought for special occasions and festivals. The purchase process involved considerable window shopping and obtaining information on the latest trends from fashion magazines. The purchase of bridal wear was by far the most intense. Every bride-to-be wanted her wedding dress to be exclusive. The designer was expected to provide personal advice regarding the selection of fabric and design. Based on the study results, the company had to identify customer segments and decide which of the three product lines to focus upon. Should bridal wear be placed in the same outlet with other lines, or should it be handled exclusively? Maria B. was concerned whether the lower quality image of casuals might negatively impact the premium image and stringent quality standards associated with bridal wear.

This case was prepared for inclusion in SAGE Business Cases primarily as a basis for classroom discussion or self-study, and is not meant to illustrate either effective or ineffective management styles. Nothing herein shall be deemed to be an endorsement of any kind. This case is for scholarly, educational, or personal use only within your university, and cannot be forwarded outside the university or used for other commercial purposes.

2023 Sage Publications, Inc. All Rights Reserved


Exhibit 1. Production Process for Casual Wear

Source: Company records.


Exhibit 2. Profiles of Selected Interview Participants

Person 1: (income: Rs 16,000 per month, age: about 40 years, children: 4)

Person 1 resides in Model Town and purchases three casual suits and one formal for each season.* She typically spends Rs 350–600 on casuals and Rs 700–2,000 on formals. She likes to go to boutiques but buys only suits priced under Rs 1,000. Purchases most suits from the informal sector.

Person 2: (income: Rs 50,000 per month, age: 40 plus, mother of bride-to-be, children: 5)

Person 2 resides in Askari Complex. She purchases about fifteen suits per season but dresses for weddings are extra which she buys depending upon her relation with the bride/groom and her budget. Typically spends Rs 300–700 on casuals, Rs 500–2,000 on formals and less than Rs 5,000 on dresses for weddings. She likes to visit boutiques and designers in order to get an idea of what is ‘in’ and what is ‘out’, but generally purchases from the informal sector. As the mother of a bride-to-be she would like to buy the bridal dress from a designer but spend no more than Rs 35,000 on it.

Person 3: (income: Rs 90,000 per month, age: 30 plus, children: 2)

Person 3 is a working woman living in Defence. She buys 10–15 suits per season. For casuals the price range is Rs 900 plus and for formals it is Rs 2,000–7,000. For weddings, depending upon her relation with the bride/groom, she buys two suits with an average price of Rs 20,000. On the wedding of a relative, she consults a designer for at least one suit. For her normal casual wear she prefers to buy Maria B. casuals, worth Rs 1,500. But she also gets her suits stitched from tailors (informal sector). As she is very busy, she prefers ready-made dresses.

Person 4: (income: Rs 100,000 plus per month, age: 30 plus, newly married, working woman)

Person 4 lives in Defence. She purchases fifteen suits per season including formals; 80 per cent of these are casuals and 20 per cent formals. Her price range for casuals is Rs 250–1,100. For formals, it is Rs 1,000–2,000 and for weddings it is Rs 1,500–2,000. She prefers the informal sector. Her bridal dress cost Rs 30,000.

Source: Company records.

Note: *Seasons refer to the two main seasons each year, summer and winter.

Exhibit 3. Focus Group Findings—Casual Wear

  • When you talk about casuals, Generation immediately comes to your mind, which offers casuals in the true sense of the word. Maria B. should also consider casuals on the same lines (age < 30 year*).
  • Casuals should have a wide variety with a lot of choice, because you think of it as being more researched, more top of the line (teenager).
  • In my mind I just think of Maria B. as a really expensive formal wear designer. For casuals, I don't even consider her rather I go straight to Generation (age 30–35 years).
  • I think in casuals, volume and variety are more important than quality (age < 25 years).
  • It's young working women who want exclusive casual attire which is simple, comfortable and in-line with latest trends. Maria B. should target them (age < 30 years).
  • I normally buy casuals at the start of a season; Maria B. should provide new variety at this time (age < 30 years).
  • I normally start buying casual wear at the beginning of a season, for example, in summer every year, I have to have new prints and then also, your previous year's clothes get worn out and so you need to replace them (age < 30 years).
  • Casuals are bought in bulk and when I buy my summer or winter casual clothes, I am normally willing to compromise on quality and focus more on prices, as I know that I will be replacing these clothes next year (age above 25 years, working woman).
  • When it comes to casuals, I concentrate more on the volume and thus price matters for I know that what I am wearing this year will not be in fashion next year (age 20–25 years).
  • I usually go to places like Auriga and Liberty to buy the material for casual clothes. Generation also offers huge volumes at low prices and so a trip to Generation at the start of every season is a must (working woman; students above 18 years).
  • I usually purchase the material for casual wear because that way I can play around with the design and colours, on my own (age above 30 years).
  • My casuals have to be according to the latest in fashion for I cannot afford to be considered out of style amidst my friends (age < 25 years).
  • Friends are a big influence on my style of clothing. I look around to see what is in vogue and then tailor my clothes accordingly (age < 25 years).

Source: Company records.

Note: *Numbers in parentheses provide data on respondent demographics, particularly age.

Exhibit 4. Focus Group Findings—Formal Wear

  • Maria B. needs to expand variety for formals and they should be occasion specific such as Eid, birthday parties, etc. (age > 30 years).
  • Maria B. has an exclusive and expensive formal wear image. The designer should provide high quality, top-of-the-line designs according to her customers' tastes (age > 30 years).
  • Maria B.'s strength is in formal designs. She should be capable of providing her customers dresses for all formal occasions (age 30–35 years).
  • I buy a formal jora when there is an occasion coming up, for example, a wedding or a formal dinner (married woman, above 25 years).
  • I buy formals normally for specific occasions and since these occasions are not so frequent during the year, I concentrate more on the quality of the fabric and am willing to spend more on a formal jora (age > 30 years).
  • The quality of the fabric matters the most in a formal jora; price is a secondary concern (age > 25 years).
  • I also am very particular about the formal jora being according to the latest fashion. It simply has to be! (age > 25 years).
  • Fashion and quality are two very important components of a formal jora. Price is definitely not a concern since this is a rare expense because formals are not purchased so frequently (age > 25 years).
  • I do copy the latest designs offered by the designers because that way I can wear the latest in fashion (age < 25 years).
  • Designers are my main source of inspiration for formal wear but I also don't mind buying from them once or twice (age < 25 years).

Source: Company records.

Exhibit 5. Focus Group Findings—Bridal Wear

  • Maria B. should have a proper consultation session with the customer before deciding a bridal design for her (age > 30 years).
  • Young women coming from a higher stratum of society go to designers, and they always look for modern fashionable apparel. Once they are satisfied, they become loyal customers and also consult the designer for bridal wear (age < 25 years).
  • Maria B.'s bridal wear lacks variety in designs (age < 30 years).
  • I think Maria B. should position herself as a designer for bridal wear and she should excel in her designs and fashion as well as quality of fabric (age 20–25 years).
  • There is no question about not going to a designer for bridal wear. It is the IN thing to do nowadays (18–30 age group, especially brides-to-be).
  • Quality, quality, quality! I cannot emphasize quality enough for a bridal jora. Quality of fabric and quality of work are the two most important things in this jora. Forget about price as this is a one-time expense (age above 30 years).
  • Yes I would not mind copying the designs for a bridal jora, because why should I pay the premium price when I can get the same jora made much cheaper from Anarkali (informal sector), etc. (mother of a bride-to-be).
  • The prices charged by the designers are outrageous. I could get the same made at such a low price (mother of a bride-to-be).
  • It is just not the jora that is the entire experience, the attention of the designer, her personal interest in what colors would suit me, what cloth would look good on me…that cannot be found at some cheap place like Anarkali… (age > 25 years, bride-to-be).
  • I am willing to pay a premium price for a bridal jora for I want people to admire my unique color combination and exclusive design on the day of my wedding…besides to be wearing designer bridal wear is the IN thing nowadays.I would love to say that I am wearing Nilofer Shahid or Maria B… (age > 25 years, bride-to-be).

Source: Company records.

Exhibit 6. Focus Group findings—Maria B. Image

  • Maria B. is a premium brand. I think Maria should only sustain this image through offering high quality products as well as opening her outlets in posh areas of the city (age > 30 years).
  • It has an expensive look to it too (age 25–30 years).
  • It should be reasonably priced (age > 30 years).
  • She is so typical (age 18–20 years).
  • Some people I know are just bored of Maria B. They say there is no variety in her bridal designs but they still buy it because they are curious about her premium image (age above 30 years).
  • It is too confusing to make sense of the way her lines are named. I know what a formal is but what does she mean by semi-formal and similarly, semi-bridal is too confusing as well (both young and old women).
  • Maria B. cannot win the price war of casuals. Even if she decreases her prices, she can't compete; rather she will spoil her upmarket image (age 25 years).
  • Maria B.'s outfits have been around for a long time; you can trust the designer (age > 30 years).
  • I think women are mostly compulsive buyers; shopping is their favorite pastime. But at the same time, they want variety and uniqueness (age < 30 years).
  • Maria B. has a trendy office wear collection (middle-aged working woman).

Source: Company records.

Exhibit 7. Focus Group Findings—Store Layout

  • Arranging the display of clothing, putting the clothes in neat piles as casuals, formals and bridal wear also helps the customer to make a quick decision. Maria B. should improve the display of her outfits (age < 25 years).
  • Clothes should be hung in a way that makes it convenient for customers to look and select the designs of their choice easily instead of launching a search effort (age > 30 years).
  • Once I went to Maria B.'s boutique, I saw a lot of dresses hanging around. The display was not good and that's why I have not tried it (age > 30 years).
  • The display is a chaos. You have to look, search and search. Too time consuming (age > 30 years).
  • With a good display, you really get a good summary of the boutique up front. I like that because it tells me exactly what I should get from here. I know what I am looking for and I can quickly decide (age 30–35 years).
  • Maria B.'s Defence outlet is attractive with respect to both physical outlet and ambience. However, her display of apparel is not good (age 25–35 years).

Source: Company records.

Exhibit 8. Focus Group Findings—Suggestions

  • I think Maria B. should advertise more, emphasize the quality and variety of new designs and new cuts (age < 30 years).
  • In my opinion, she should maintain a premium price image. There is a need to keep coming up with innovative designs which should be trendy as well as graceful, and this can be the core competence of Maria B. (age 30–35 years).
  • Tell women that Maria B. makes exclusive outfits. Then they will figure out themselves what they need (age > 30 years).
  • Maria B. should enhance her image by using superior quality fabric and material for embroidery (age > 30 years).
  • I think Maria B. should provide casual clothes like Khaddi (teenager).
  • Maria B. should concentrate on the quality and design of her clothes. She should provide customers value for money (age above 30 years).
  • Maria B. should improve her designs and should be updated with the latest fashion trends (age < 25 years).
  • I don't see Maria B.'s formal wear targeting only glamorous women. I see it for every housewife and working woman (age 30–35 years, working woman).
  • In line with her fashion shows featuring only formals and bridal wear, she should also have fashion events for casuals (age < 25 years).
  • Maria's apparel are not occasion specific (age 30–35 years).
  • To my knowledge, normally modern young women consult designers because they always want to be ‘in’. Maria B. should target them (age < 25 years).
  • I think Maria B. should consider only the upper niche of the society (age above 30 years).
  • Avant Garde! This is my image for an educated, modern woman. And I consider it while buying my apparel (age above 30 years).
  • I think Maria B.'s apparel should be fashionable ‘Modern Cuts’ unlike the typical shalwar qameez (age < 25 years).

Source: Company records.

This case was prepared for inclusion in SAGE Business Cases primarily as a basis for classroom discussion or self-study, and is not meant to illustrate either effective or ineffective management styles. Nothing herein shall be deemed to be an endorsement of any kind. This case is for scholarly, educational, or personal use only within your university, and cannot be forwarded outside the university or used for other commercial purposes.

2023 Sage Publications, Inc. All Rights Reserved

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