468 Retail and Channel Management Blog

Friday, January 30, 2015

Abercrombie & Fitch - the Love of my Youth

In 2009, I went to a shopping mall with four other sixteen-year-old German girls, and although there was no Abercrombie sign outside the store, but a dark blue wooden façade, there was no doubt that we had found what we were looking for.


We heard loud music and smelled a really appealing fragrance. Two handsome guys wearing only trunks and flip-flops welcomed us with a “hey – what’s up?”. Giggling, and also a little sheepish, we wanted to make our way into the store but had to decide on either turning left or right. As it was too dark inside to easily tell the difference between the two options, we turned left. Wrong choice – that was the men’s department. Even more embarrassed now, we walked back to the entrance, past the half naked guys and finally arrived in the women’s department. 

The whole store design was really pretty: dark wooden furniture, small palm trees, screens behind “windows” where you could see and hear the sea, and spotlights that highlighted parts of their collection in the in other respects quite dark environment. Aside from the nice interior design and the really good-looking staff, we were totally thrilled about their clothes. You could already tell that their products were high quality just by touching. After two hours, happy and satisfied, with one bag in each hand and an empty wallet in our purse, we went back home.

Five years later, back in Germany, I heard the good news: an Abercrombie store was about to open in a mall close to my home. Full of expectation and joy, I went there shortly after they opened. You could already smell their perfume on the other side of the mall (a little overdone), and to my great disappointment, there was a huge line in front of the store with two security guards making sure that nobody would push to the front. After having waited for 45 minutes, I could finally enter and a sales clerk welcomed me with “hey – what’s up?” in English. A little confusing and ridiculous as we were in Germany and our mother tongue is German… And what I saw inside could not make up for the time lost while standing in line either: There were way too many people, the music was too loud and when I finally made it to the shelves, I had to discover that they only had size 0 left for most of their jeans. Feeling big with my actually average size, I decided to go for the t-shirts instead, but it was so dark that I could not tell whether the color was dark blue or black and into the bargain, they only had three changing rooms for approximately 100 persons. Irrevocably disappointed and crestfallen, I went away empty-handed.



I don’t know if Abercrombie is no longer that appealing to me because they lost their uniqueness now that they opened stores all over the world, or if I am simply no longer part of their target segment – “the cool kids”. 
Anyway, I will not shop there again.




References:

Lecture notes provided by Kyle B Murray for MARK 468, Winter 2015

http://i.huffpost.com/gen/1902756/thumbs/o-ABERCROMBIE-MODELS-facebook.jpg

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-2328513/Mock-Abercrombie--Fitch-ad-featuring-plus-size-blogger-latest-hit-retailers-beautiful-customer-policy.html 

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/on-leadership/wp/2013/05/22/abercrombie-fitchs-big-bad-brand-mistake/

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5VRJRy9rnfE



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