The folllowing sample essay on Abercrombie Target Market discusses it in detail, offering basic facts and pros and cons associated with it. To read the essay’s introduction, body and conclusion, scroll down.
Abercrombie & Fitch is an apparel lifestyle brand that repositioned itself with new management from an outdoor sporting good brand in 1992. They now sell fashion-oriented casual apparel having an East Coast heritage subsequent with Ivy League traditions, and incorporating it as a lifestyle base intended for college students 18 to 22 years old.
(Hemscott, 2006) “By promoting a lifestyle which can be visually performed by cloaking oneself in the branded outer trappings associated with that lifestyle, A&F has tapped into a consumer longing, a longing not merely for clothes, but for identity.
This identity is marketed by its photography as strong, virile, and young masculinity paired with an athletic, tom-boyish, girl-next-door version of womanhood. ” (Engel, 2004) Abercrombie & Fitch uses several marketing tools to attract their target customers. Their brand draws certain customers that fit the upper American lifestyles such as sophisticated, cool, attractive, fashion-conscious, influential, and trendsetters.
Their promotional mix involves using sex appeal very heavily to sell its products.
There’s lots of in-store marketing of visual presentation of the merchandise, music, fragrances and even the sales associates and store design are all carefully selected to represent the Adirondack style of Abercrombie & Fitch. The store is furnished with canoes, large leather couches, moose heads, and dark Victorian style wood in addition there are large framed posters displayed in greyscale of the Abercrombie and Fitch models half naked in sexual suggestive poses.
Some of the large flagship stores have man model with just jeans on greeting customers at the door. Thet also use print media including magazines the main advertising is print advertisements in Interview, Out, Rolling Stone and Vanity Fair costing them approximately $2 million a year. They use to have their own unique magazine/catalog, which was a big source for advertising their image, but the A&F Quarterly magalog was pulled because of controversial issues regarding the contents. (Driessen, 2005)
In addition Abercrombie & Fitch has a website with shopping, music and picture downloads for their customers, giving them more access to the A&F lifestyle. “Abercrombie & Fitch also maintains an extensive website on which online shopping is one small component. The site includes a listing of popular MP3 downloads, a host of other sites to which the consumer should link, access to a free email service, a preview of magazine-style feature articles to be published in the next edition of the A&F Quarterly, reality-based film shorts called “A&F TV,” as well as a collection of downloadable photos from the latest advertising campaign.
The blatant linkage between clothing and lifestyle identity suggests that people who wear A&F hats listen to a particular type of music, people who wear A&F shirts surf these particular websites or play these particular sports, and people who wear A&F cargo shorts read these specific books or watch these films. In short, in a tautological and self-reinforcing dynamic, people who wear A&F apparel adopt the A&F lifestyle. Hence, what is packaged, mass produced, and ready for consumption is not so much a tangible product, but a symbolic identity. ” (Engel, 2004) Image is everything” a saying that they really take to an extreme. Abercrombie & Fitch makes it easy for a customer to fall into the A&F lifestyle, by providing a number of ways to identify and associate themselves with the A&F brand and the lifestyle it portrays. Abercrombie & Fitch relies on an image marketing strategy, making reflection, and lifestyle as core parts of their marketing. (Driessen, 2005) Sex sells, and A&F are one of the companies that has jumped on this band wagon. Another part of their general marketing is all the sexual exploitation that they suggested with all the posing models.
This has leaded them into controversial issues over the years, but they continue to use very sexy models in sexually suggestive poses. At one point the director of advertising claimed, “… the only way he will change the current advertising approach is if the target market, college students, change what they want. ” (Edwards, 2003) This is mostly in regards to the sex and drinking that a good number of college students participate in. Abercrombie & Fitch position its apparel to be elite and better than other similar brands, especially because it’s a lifestyle brand.
Target customers live a certain lifestyle and Abercrombie & Fitch becomes part of that once a customer accepts the brand and starts purchasing it regularly. Target market of college student relate in the same ways… sex, college, late nights, drinking, expensive clothing, etc. and may see Abercrombie & Fitch promotes these qualities so they feel welcomed into the store and eventually become familiar with the product. The atmosphere of all the retail stores is also plays a big part of how the company positions its self. How merchandise is displayed, what decorations, colors and finishes are used and even the temperature sounds and smell of a store all contribute to its ‘atmospherics’ of the store image. ” (Cannon, Perreault, and McCarthy, 2008) Examples of these where mentioned above and are used to show that A&F is a unique, more expensive store, superior lifestyle, than some of its competitors like American Eagle and Aeropostal, if you lead the life you should fit in with the appropriate clothing; THIERS. They show the college students all of the A&F lifestyle just when they browse through one of the stores.
Abercrombie & Fitch’s integrated marketing communications could be labeled as form of self expression and lifestyle not just apparel. They maintain a counterculture image that continues to use a variety of media, including putting ads in upscale magazines, opening in suburban malls, and developing the A&F Quarterly, A&F catalog and A&F TV. “Corporate officials and employees define the Abercrombie and Fitch image in the Abercrombie and Fitch models, which are on store posters, bags, gift cards, the website, catalog, and the magalog A&F Quarterly, which brought light to the sex and advertising controversy. (Driessen, 2005) Though the A&F Quarterly was controversial, some claiming message to youth, was “a lifestyle of semi-nudity, nudity, and promiscuity” (Stroup, 2001, p. 56) so it produced the last issue in December 2003.
In addition they produce commercials, which were supposed to go on cable television and on monitors in their stores. A&F TV was only offered the company’s website until recently. “A & F shrewdly understands that teens want to belong, and has captured their dollars by making sure they want to belong to the beautiful, exclusive world that the Abercrombie image projects” (Reichert, 2003, p. 35 Quoted from Driessen, 2005). They have created brand personality, which is a concept that is hard for some companies to achieve. Things they did right regarding integrated marketing communication was the way they created their image and pronounce it as a lifestyle brand, making it predominate in the eyes of the target market.
They use images, style, and items directly related to college students, which intern attached them to their apparel. They put their advertisements in places that college student would be see them like in malls and popular magazines. The di? or and music of the stores directly influence college students and flow with their way of life. Then they invested money in the A&F Quarterly and the A&F catalog, shipping them directly to the customers. Even though they stopped issuing the A&F Quarterly initially this was a big source of advertising and really got their name and fashion out to the target market. These techniques all proved to be profitable ways of advertising for their lifestyle brand. Things they did wrong regarding integrated marketing communication was the concept of sex in most of the advertising and the “majority of whiteness” they portrayed.
These to issues have been a hindrance to Abercrombie & Fitch. Yes the college lifestyle does have lots of sex either in their lives or around them, but it’s not such a classy way of selling a product. “Sex sells” and it did work, their product is one of the top apparel lines with teens and college students. (Victor, 2007) Because it’s a lifestyle brand their message really becomes sex, promiscuity, and nudity, which they could have established a slightly better outlook on life with their brand promoting something better. One of A&Fs latest pictures above, which was to promote the new international store in London with a picture of a male model. “The company is announcing its arrival with advertisements showing a rear view of a male model, whose trousers are so low they reveal a bare behind. However, this is tame for a firm which has scandalized middle America for more than a decade with its ‘sex and shocking’ approach to fashion. ” (Poulter, 2007)
In addition to the sexual innuendo their ads and sales clerks were predominately white, which is almost racist, because all types of students go to college, not just whites. College has a mix of very diverse people, White, Hispanic, Black, Asian, etc. so they should try to appeal to all cultures instead of “one type” of college student. Quite a few times this has lead A&F to court, one example, “The lawsuit alleges that Abercrombie hires a disproportionately white sales force, favors white employees for the best positions, and discourages minorities from even applying for jobs.
But lawyer and conservative talk show host Larry Elder says too often cases like these end up in court. ” (Safer, 2004) A&F also faced employment discrimination charges in 2004. “A lawsuit filed last month charges that the New Albany, Ohio, chain discriminates against blacks, Hispanics and Asians with a corporate policy that requires all sales people to exhibit an all-white “A & F look. ” (ConsumerAffairs. com, 2003) Some of their products have been offensive to other non-white college students.
In 2002 they had a new line of Asian t-shirts, which made fun of them or the culture, even though they claimed this wasn’t the intent. These were pulled off the shelves soon after being released in stores, because of the controversy. These are examples of racial t-shirts. (10News, 2002) Below t-shirt pictures curiosity of http://www. 10news. com/news/1405909/detail. html Improvements that could be made to Abercrombie & Fitch integrated marketing communications are to create a more equal, diverse place for all college students and do a better job trying not to offend large quantities of people, including their own customers.
Instead of being a place targeted mostly for white college students, they should become a little more diverse and communicate diversity through the market attracting more customers from the target market. A simple suggestion would be to have more cultures represented with the models in the large store posters, catalogs, on bags, etc. They use their merchandise as marketing throughout the store, so the products shouldn’t be offensive to their customers like the t-shirts mentioned above.
Being more diverse with the models the marketing will attract more college students, meaning more profit. They should change their lifestyle brand to become not just a white A&F look and be a diverse A&F look. More diversity more profit. To give them so credit to A&F they have cast a few models and hired a few sales associates recently that are not white, that seems to be the first step, so maybe they are learning there’s more than just white people in America.