Abercrombie Honing in on College Students
A brand that was once at the top of the fashion food chain has found itself fighting for survival. For a Gen-Y consumer, the brands they own represent social badges. And, right now, they don’t see Abercrombie as a brand that represents their core beliefs or values. Referencing one of our posts week, Millennials believe that businesses have a responsibility to improve society. Abercrombie’s former CEO was under major fire for inappropriate comments; which sparked a strong opposition from Gen-Y’ers.
Their recent strategy to target the college students as a means of winning the high school shoppers holds strong merit. For a high school student, one of their biggest influences is the college crowd; depicted in movies and observed through their older siblings. It’s estimated that for every $1 spent by the college crowd, they influence another $3.50 within both younger and older consumer segments.
While they’ve honed in on their intended audience, Abercrombie will need to focus on reinventing their brand values as they try to win back the youth market. And for a market that is inherently skeptical, Abercrombie will need to “walk the walk” or they won’t live to see 2020.
Mar. 12, 2014 By Ashley Lutz, The Business Insider
For the first time in decades, Abercrombie is going to market to an older audience, Jonathan Ramsden, chief operating officer and chief financial officer, told Lindsey Rupp at Bloomberg News.
“It’s part of wanting to separate the brands more, take Abercrombie to more of a premium, with Hollister as more fast-fashion,” Ramsden told Bloomberg. “It’s an opportunity to connect Abercrombie & Fitch with its heritage and move it up in demographic.”
But it’s possible that Abercrombie marketing to college students could bring back the high schoolers it has lost to retailers like H&M and Forever 21.
Take the Pink brand at Victoria’s Secret.
While Victoria’s Secret insists that it’s only marketing to college students, the reality of who shops there is totally different.
“When somebody’s 15 or 16-years-old, what do they want to be?” Stuart Burgdoerfer, CFO of Victoria’s Secret, said at a conference last year. “They want to be older, and they want to be cool like the girl in college, and that’s part of the magic of what we do at Pink.”
Teen brands are all about aspiration.
Abercrombie & Fitch CEO Michael Jeffries famously marketed his brand to popular, All-American athletes.
The brand has stumbled because the definition of “cool” has changed since Abercrombie’s heyday in the 1990’s.
Marketing to the people high schoolers look up to—college students—could help revive the brand.