Caught with Your Pants Down: How Abercrombie & Fitch Exposed Itself to Failure

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Customer Experience
Where "value" once referred to one's personal beliefs, the word now belongs to your burger and fries. Brands continue to take advantage of the word, diminishing its worth in an attempt to attract patronage. But for Abercrombie & Fitch (A&F), "value" means serving up shoddy products alongside their "better than you" attitude at a price you just can't afford.

Where "value" once referred to one's personal beliefs, the word now belongs to your burger and fries. Brands continue to take advantage of the word, diminishing its worth in an attempt to attract patronage. But for Abercrombie & Fitch (A&F), "value" means serving up shoddy products alongside their "better than you" attitude at a price you just can't afford.For years, A&F dominated the youth retail market. By plastering their name and initials on nearly every garment available, the clothing chain was the place for those of the millennial age to shop. But with revenue plummeting like the pants on one of its models, A&F has proven its high prices and generic offerings are no longer the required attire for the today's "cool" kids. According to an article posted by Yahoo! Finance, A&F closed 71 stores within their most recent fiscal year, with plans to close another 180 stores through 2015.

Many blame A&F's decline on the economy. (Our wallets are already torn and tattered--we don't need to purchase jeans that reflect our economic situation at over $100 a pair.) However, ever since Mike Jeffries' take over in 1992, A&F has been doing its best to alienate consumers ever since. From the lack of clothing on their clothing models, to the atrocious sounds and smells emanating from each storefront, A&F has accumulated quite the list of offenses:

You sell plenty of shirts, so please wear one. Whether it's their wall-sized photographs of models romping through the grass, or the annoying greeters poised at the doorway, A&F models/employees rarely wear the clothing the store supposedly sells. I don't want to see two virile young humans frolicking through a field naked and I don't want to be greeted by some prepubescent boy's bare chest as I enter the store. You employ perfectly good people who could be advertising your goods. Use them!

Stop discriminating against those who don't fit the mold. We can all tell that your target demographic may be the twiggy 20-something coed, but don't subtly discriminate just because you only want certain types of customers wearing your designs. (From a lady's perspective, at least.) If you're ever perusing their denim selection, take a moment to notice that only sizes 00-4 are within reach of the average woman. Any larger and you will have to ask for assistance, thereby admitting your "shameful" size. Good job scaring away customers that may have helped you remain on top.

Dulling my senses doesn't make any cents (if you know what I mean). With music blaring louder than a nightclub and smells more pungent than a sports team locker room, it's hard to breathe or think when shopping at A&F--two bodily functions that often facilitate educated purchases. Wander into their sister store, Hollister, and you will lose your sense of sight, too. When I make a purchase, I prefer to have full control of my faculties. And even if I somehow make it out of there with a bag in hand, once the scents settle and the sounds clear, I have 60 days to return my items for a full refund.

Sure, it's easy to call out all their failures, but after years of scrutiny, A&F can't say they didn't see this coming. Today's youth wants to embrace their individuality, not A&F's conformist uniform, and they want to save money, seeing as education doesn't come cheap. Perhaps A&F will see this downturn as a wake up call. Or maybe they will continue to act like the elitist brand they've been known to be. Either way, they certainly won't be getting the shirt off my back.

EXPERT OPINION
EXPERT OPINION