What is the first commandment of marketing? KNOW YOUR DEMOGRAPHIC. If you’re a 7-11 in Maine, BCL better be all over the front counter. Customer’s aren’t foregoing Beer, Cigs, and Lotto for a barrel of pickles and penny candy. If you’re Abercrombie, you better be selling graphic T’s that say GTL. You don’t wax the treasure trail straight off your empire with a dig at The Jersey Shore.
But that’s just what Abercrombie did this week, claiming that their image as an “aspirational” brand is tarnished by association with America’s favorite Italian exports. So much so, that they are willing to pay the characters to stop wearing their clothes.
Listen Abercrombie: I have aspirations too, however, a ball of twine and a Stop & Shop bag do not a parachute make. (And the roof is wayyy higher than it looks.) Similarly, YOU may appreciate your foray into trad style. A couple of well-meaning albeit misguided elderly relatives may appreciate buying your trad products for their nephews. But the scores of mall rats that enjoy inhaling your scent and going deaf from your music don’t.
Truth is, Abercrombie hasn’t been prep since they did away with duck decoys and taxidermy. Their new demographic wants restrictive thermals, and sandblasted jeans, and a cheap wallet to put their Jamba Juice cards in. You can’t just slap a crest on something and expect all the kids in J. Crew to gravitate over like in the Pied Piper.
Contrast A+F’s marketing strategy with that of Brooks Brothers and there’s really no comparison. Brooks Brothers is opening another store in NYC (Flatiron) just for young shoppers. The store will highlight their University collection, and have available Wifi and videogames. (Not to mention a previously established preppy following.)
Abercrombie, I think an apology and some gym vouchers are in order.