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Abercrombie & Fitch: Good Marketing and Bad PR?
Posted on May 16th 2013
Actually, they’re pretty bad at marketing too…(But more on that later)
So everyone is up in arms over Abercrombie’s stance on sizing – particularly as it pertains to girls.
Fundamentally speaking, no. (I said FUNDAMENTALLY)
Good marketers know you have to stand for something. You can’t be all things to all people and still expect to build an iconic brand. Targeting is what sets you apart from the rest – a fact that holds especially true when it comes to fashion.
And branding isn’t just about whom to attract; it’s also about whom to repel.
Just ask Mike “the Situation” (he was asked to stop wearing A&F apparel on MTV’s The Jersey Shore out of fear that the association worked against the A&F lifestyle).
So Abercrombie only wants the cool kids...
Just walk by an A&F store. You’d have to be blind, deaf, and dumb not to know it already.
Shit’s intimidating! (Coming from a former uncool kid)
And who’s cool? All else held equal, it’s the most attractive kid with access to the most money (I.e., loaded parents).
Price has been an effective (and acceptable) form of exclusion for years.
Businesses in every industry imaginable have used price as a bar of access against less affluent consumers. No one ever takes offense.
But weight gets personal.
You just don’t talk about it. And for Abercrombie, maybe it’s that it seems to only apply to girls, which provides an added sting of chauvinism.
What we have here is a perfectly rational business choice communicated in a callous, way too transparent manner – add too crowd sourcing and voice amplification via social media.
What we have is a case for better PR.
When it comes to the human body, we possess unfair, illogical aspirations. It’s a reality made possible by years of an escalating notion that sex sells in advertising and Photoshop.
Abercrombie built a name for itself around the chase of physical perfection – and there’s nothing wrong with that. It’s a solid business model.
Mike Jeffries just should have been more diplomatic in his explanation.
And maybe we’d respect the brand’s stance more if it was even a fraction the “cool” it was more than a decade ago.
Pt. 2 - A brand in need of friends… (I promised we’d get back to the Marketing part)
When I was home in February, I walked out of A&F with a pair of jeans for $9.00. Rewind 15 years and you’d see me out front of the same store BEGGING my mom to buy me the last $48.00 tee left in my size.
|It took 17 consecutive months of declining same-store sales before Jeffries decided to establish a sales discount model.|
Teens don’t want to look the same year after year and they certainly don’t want to dress like their parents.
Before long we’ll no doubt move on to hazing and rebuking a different brand for whom we used to admire.
No, it’s the refusal to evolve the A&F “lifestyle” that will sink this ship.