Abercrombie & Fitch's Evolving Marketing Mix
In an attempt to combat the ever-evolving retail industry, Abercrombie & Fitch has made significant changes to their marketing mix, the two most important of which are specifically geared towards their promotional strategy as well as their product. These changes to the brand were generated in response to consumer behavior and the rising trend of diversity within Abercrombie's target market.
The once profitable strategy of being “the mean girl at the mall”, is no longer an advantageous promotional technique. The promotional aspect of the four P's is a “persuasive form of communication that attempts to expedite a marketing exchange by influencing individuals, groups or organizations” (BACW, p. 354). This can be done through personal selling, advertising, publicity, and sales. Abercrombie & Fitch, previously home to the shirtless male models who roamed the dimly lit store wreaking of intoxicatingly strong perfume was in dire need of an image alteration. A teenager provided her opinion by stating, “If you look at their website or posters, it's always beautiful people … If you're not tiny, it's not the place to shop, which is not a good thing in my view” (Friendly). Abercrombie & Fitch's brand portrayed a negative image of their products, which shows via their sales over the last few years. As a part of their attempted revival, they have condemned their sexual culture within their marketing mix. This brings an end to hiring based on looks and to shirtless models, both in-store or on advertisements including posters, gift cards, and shopping bags. The new creative marketing director, Ashley Sargent Price, announced that their new promotions and physical stores will provide an optimistic mood, featuring brighter lighting and more relaxed styling. They have “turned the lights up, and turned the scent down” (Friendly). Abercrombie has gone the extra mile to erase their negative promotional history by deleting past advertisements and social-media post that contain the sexually suggestive content. In order for Abercrombie & Fitch to continue to change their market strategy, altering their promotional strategy is a necessity.
Continuously changing fads and styles make the teen fashion industry difficult to stay on top of. In order to do so, companies must evolve their products parallel with industry trends. Abercrombie & Fitch has done so in the last few years with major changes to their product mix. A product, by definition, is a “complex mix of tangible and intangible attributes that provide satisfaction and benefits” (BACW, p. 353). In an attempt to revamp their business, they decided to amend both their product mix and target market, repositioning themselves from teens to “20-somethings”. Changes to their tangible goods include moving away from their, “logo-covered merchandise that long defined (their) look” (Angst). Not only are they altering priorly establish products, they are also adding says Stacia Andersen, the new brand president. She publicized to shoppers that they should come to expect new variety within their clothing primarily jeans, sweaters, and jackets. From back to school sales statistics Abercrombie stated that the new line of denim was a big hit. Retailers like Abercrombie must continually adjust to changing market preferences and consumer behavior and realize that the life cycle of their product is only as long as the preferences allow. Thus, making changes to the product is one of the most important pieces of altering their market strategy.
A consumer trend that has impacted the brand of Abercrombie & Fitch is the millennials' taste and preference for diversity and distaste for anything representative of bullying. Abercrombie's brand, “a name, term, symbol, design or combination that identifies and distinguishes a product from others” was, in essence, the opposite of diverse (BACW, p. 377). The very little variety of the product mix combined with the unmistakeable Abercrombie & Fitch logo stitched on everything made the brand very distinguishable. And again, having the reputation of being the “mean girl of the mall” made Abercrombie & Fitch irrelevant to millennial shoppers who were uninterested in purchasing the brand that used to be “cool”. It is because of this that the profits fell and changes needed to occur in order to save the company from sinking. To get back on top Abercrombie & Fitch consciously decided to adapt to the changing market. Fran Horowitz, president and chief merchandising officer at Abercrombie & Fitch stated, “We are a positive, inclusive brand, with a nice sensibility, very different from what they encountered in the past,” (Friendly).
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