Abercrombie & Fitch came out and said in an interview that they cater to the club atmosphere of younger, cool people and do not want plus size women shopping in their stories. Everything around their marketing caters to this niche market. They only hire young, attractive people to work at their stores and the largest size they carry for women is size 10. They carry XXL for men, but that’s only to cater to athletes. A book called The New Rules of Retail by Robin Lewis discusses this philosophy or you can read the 2006 interview the retailer’s CEO, Mike Jeffries, did with Salon where he stated:
“In every school there are the cool and popular kids, and then there are the not-so-cool kids,” he says. “Candidly, we go after the cool kids. We go after the attractive all-American kid with a great attitude and a lot of friends. A lot of people don’t belong [in our clothes], and they can’t belong. Are we exclusionary? Absolutely. Those companies that are in trouble are trying to target everybody: young, old, fat, skinny. But then you become totally vanilla. You don’t alienate anybody, but you don’t excite anybody, either.” (Link: Salon – The man behind Abercrombie & Fitch.)
The 2006 interview was interesting in that it totally slammed Jeffries as a man in his 60’s desperately trying to be one of the cool kids and in doing so created this alternative clothing universe to fit his concept for what he wanted for himself. He seems to have some pretty bizarre notions about women in general. Remember, this was the same store that in 2002 created thong underwear for middle school girls with phrases such as “Eye Candy” and “Wink Wink” written on the front.
I could mention that while his business strategy is working now (A&F has over $4.2 billion in sales,) 67% of the American market is plus sized and its competitors H&M carries up to size 16 and American Eagle carries up to size 18, so exclusivity comes at a price of diminishing market shares. But honestly, it’s just easier to look at a photo of Jeffries and say to yourself, ‘Do I really want this guy to be the one who defines what “cool” is? Really?’
In other news Coke said it is going start a worldwide campaign to battle obesity. They are going to make the calorie count on the label more transparent and promote more exercise. My father-in-law, who told me about both these stories (he reads all the financial websites and forward me the interesting health related stories for my blog) just went off about this and I felt the need to share:
“Anti-obesity campaign?!! Sure they have vitamin water and other athletic drinks under the flag now, but their flagship product is heavily sugared Coke. Kinda like the Witch’s union coming out against all broom factories.”
So I guess in current events today we learned to drink Coke so we can get healthy and buy Abercrombie & Fitch. Or not.
What are your thoughts?
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