This report looks at how Abercrombie & Fitch knowing their target market, market their brand to the target market. By using a profile of myself a target customer I will attempt to show how Abercrombie & Fitch fit their products into my wants and needs. Methods of analysis will include a perception diagram, buyer's decision process and the three level product diagrams relating to Abercrombie shirts. In conclusion I found that Abercrombie does well to target its marketing well and uses cost effective media to do so. Though it has had some bad publicity from the media it still proves popular with young trendy adults.
Abercrombie and Fitch were established in 1892 as a sporting goods store based in New York. Most of the items sold were for outdoor activities such as hunting and fishing. Started up by David T. Abercrombie as Abercrombie and Co after a meeting with Ezra Fitch they became partners renaming the company as Abercrombie & Fitch. Fitch changed the feel of the store from a sporting goods store to a store which sold which sold clothing with an outdoor feel this led to David T. Abercrombie to leaving the company. More stores opened selling sporting goods and clothing to the American upper classes. An Abercrombie lifestyle magazine was launch showcasing their lines of outdoor gear and clothing to their customers expanding their customer base out of New York. Many stores were opened across America in the 1950's. During this time and even before this Abercrombie and Fitch were supplying clothing to popular American figures such as Charles Lindbergh, Ernest Hemingway and most famously John F. Kennedy. Even though thought to be a popular and successful brand a downturn in the 1970's resulted in the company going bankrupt in 1977. After being bought and sold by many different companies it was taken over by Limited Brands a large company specializing in taking over many different clothing and perfume brands. It turned around the fortunes of Abercrombie and floated the company on the New York stock exchange in 1996. Since then the brand has went from strength to strength launching several spin off brands including Hollister co. and RUEHL No.925. These brands are aimed at different age groups whilst selling similar clothing ranges.
Abercrombie & Fitch Mens ShirtWhilst looking at Abercrombie I will focus on what would be considered their signature piece of clothing the shirt.
The standard long sleeve shirt is amongst the most popular items that Abercrombie sells maintaining their simple clean cut look easily recognised by the Moose logo located on the top right of the shirts.
Assessment of me as a Customer
Firstly to establish why Abercrombie & Fitch appeals to me as a brand, and why in particular I choose to purchase their shirts. We need to look at me as a consumer and how I go about making a buying decision and how Abercrombie help to make sure it is their products I choose to purchase. A quick profile of myself from marketing prospective
Want and Needs
Overall I would describe my style as a simple clean cut look that is seen on many American comedy and teen soaps. My disposable income would be described as high as I have no payment commitments apart from my mobile phone contract which means I can choose to spend my money how I like. When shopping for clothes my considerations are quality, style and brand prestige.
My perception of Abercrombie & Fitch
Using a brand perception diagram I can show how I perceive Abercrombie & Fitch compared to two other high street brands comparing style with quality.
As you can see from the diagram, it shows how I perceive Abercrombie to have both style and quality compared to M&S and Topman both of whom I perceive only to be strong on one of the qualities shown. Showing this comparison shows why Abercrombie is brand of choice for shirts.
When deciding to purchase a new shirt I have either decided that some parts of my wardrobe are style wise out of date or I have unfortunately damaged a shirt and so would be looking for a replacement. When deciding what style or brand that I would like to purchase I would look at what my friends are wearing and also would see what is seen on television to ascertain which brand is cool. As I would consider myself to be a busy person with little want or need to go searching around high streets or shopping centres this leads me to go online to shop as it is more convenient to do so and can be done on my own time when I want. This also lets me see what other alternatives are available at the click of a button. One of the dangers with purchasing online is the increasing levels of fake or counterfeit goods available. So buying direct from the company is a bonus Abercrombie offer this and also their website is easy to use and looks impressive compared to other rival brands such as Jack Wills. Purchasing online is simple and easy the whole process of purchasing is a lot less stressful and quicker than running around shops all day. When my order has been received at home I would generally wear it on my next night out with wearing what I perceive to be a cool and prestigious brand I feel I get a confidence boost which helps me interact socially better.
A breakdown of my buying process for an Abercrombie Shirt
Building the Brand
In short Abercrombie & Fitch's target market is Young affluent adults with a highly disposable income with exposure to American culture and its influences. The brand image is instantly recognisable with the moose logo styling every shirt. The band has been built on being exclusive and developing a strong sense of community amongst its wearers. They have done this though the use of social networking sites such as facebook where users can join the Abercrombie community with fellow wearers. By looking at the marketing mix we can see further how Abercrombie manages to keep hold of its target market.
Looking at the three product levels we can see how Abercrombie make their shirts desirable to the target market.
The Core Benefit of the Product
The core benefit of an Abercrombie &Fitch shirt is the brand prestige over other shirts offered.
The Actual Product
Quality: Abercrombie produce a 100% cotton shirt which is a known hardwearing material that can last over a long period of time.
Style: Abercrombie clothing is based on a certain look which is seen as very American and is actually referenced in the media now as the "Abercrombie Look" people buying the shirt are doing so to get the look.
Fit: The shirts are all of what Abercrombie call "muscle fit" the fit is more of a casual fit rather than a standard formal fit that would be offer in say Marks & Spencer.
The Augmented Product
Shopping Experience: Abercrombie add value to the product aesthetically pleasing website which is easy to use and looks good maintaining the brands image.
Exclusivity: With the premium price needed to purchase Abercrombie it maintains a certain presentation of exclusivity for their customers.
Looking at the product levels that Abercrombie offer they can be seen to offer what I as their target type of customer wants from them.
In general Abercrombie products are sold at a premium price. This is to reflect the quality nature of the product, the added value of owning an Abercrombie labelled product and also to maintain the exclusive nature of the product. Abercrombie shirts do not very in price much the cheapest coming in at £70 and the most expensive at £80. Abercrombie do not hold seasonal sales like other clothing brands they do however on occasion have clearance sales with items that had been over stocked on.
Abercrombie works very hard to maintain its brand image to protect its brand from negative publicity. In Abercrombie stores or purchasing directly off their website is the only place where you can buy Abercrombie clothing and guarantee that is 100% authentic. On their own website they have a special webpage showing how committed they are to driving out fake and counterfeit products as if seen out in the wider public can damage the brand image if seen to be of inferior quality. As if cheap fakes become widely available it can destroy one of the key brand values exclusivity as just about anyone and everyone will be seen wearing branded Abercrombie products be they fake or real. This would drive away those people that saw one of the key benefits of the product that was the exclusivity being part of a small club. Buy only offering Abercrombie goods themselves people know where exactly to get genuine goods.
Abercrombie do not have traditional mass television advertising or poster campaigns in the UK. The do however release marketing images that promote not one product in particular but the brand as a whole. Artistic suggestive photographs are used the current ones on their website are using the keyword "Fierce" which is the name of one of their perfume lines and is a word that Abercrombie has trademarked. The word fierce means really good in American youth culture meaning really good. Recently the company has taken sing Beyonce into court over breech of copyright as she used the word in the title of her new perfume range called Sasha Fierce.
Above a current promotion photo note how the word fierce is made to stand out using red letters while the rest of the image is in greyscale. The picture does not focus on the product itself but the perception that guys who wear Abercrombie are good looking and buy wearing their cloths you could be described as fierce by the opposite sex a key selling point for young males wanting to appear attractive to young females.
While not running television advertisements themselves they do use product placement to get their products onto television. By targeting American teenage soaps which are shown in the UK as well as America they can advertise their product quietly and rely on more on word of mouth to advertise amongst their target area. Also many celebrities are photographed in Abercrombie clothes sales as young people try to fit in by copying what influential celebrities are wearing.
Abercrombie also use social networking to target their customers directly with their facebook page having over 500,000 fans. This allows them to develop the sense of community amongst Abercrombie wearers and so develop a strong and loyal following. The other added advantage of having a facebook group is they can target customers directly informing them of any new events and clothing ranges being released.
As stated in a previous paragraph only Abercrombie themselves sell Abercrombie branded clothing. In the UK this means that they only have one physical outlet a store located off Saville Row in London. The London store follows the flagship style stores that have been seen all across America the most famous being the store located on Fifth Avenue. Abercrombie tries to make the stores themselves a unique shopping experience. The sales staff are actually hired as models that have to fit the Abercrombie look. As stated in a previous paragraph only Abercrombie themselves sell Abercrombie branded clothing. Abercrombie has been widely criticised in the media for this employment practices in their stores. They have policy of hiring models as store assistants which fit the Abercrombie look within the store. The selection of which is done by casting members of the public who fit the look and want to work in the store. This is highly controversial in the as in the summer of 2009 they were sued buy a Disabled woman called Riam Dean for moving her from a in front of house role to a stock room job because she do not fit the 'look' of the store. In spite of this the store is still very popular with young people over the school holidays seen loitering outside the store for long periods of time.
Abercrombie has easily identified its target market for their products. They know exactly what the consumers want from themselves as a brand and what products they desire. To do this Abercrombie has had to create an exclusive yet readily available brand that consumers can easily identify themselves fitting into part of the lifestyle that Abercrombie portrays. By offering online shopping they open themselves up as being fully accessible while the premium prices charged give the brand that all important exclusivity its customers want. Unfortunately there has been some counterfeit products that have begun to surface but Abercrombie has been swift to act maintain the company image. However there are negative points the hiring of models as sales assistants in stores has been controversial in the media but it would also put off image conscious people from purchasing as they would feel the look Abercrombie offers as unattainable. Despite the negative publicity from this they use the marketing mix well to position themselves well in the market and would be seen as the leading lifestyle brand for the target audience.
If I were to recommend any refinements to Abercrombie it would be to relax the store hiring policy of models to include regular staff in front of house roles. They could also maybe create a slightly higher profile on the British high street with the opening of stores in large populous areas such as Birmingham and Glasgow as not everyone likes to shop online but to shop in store.
- http://www.saintmarys.edu/~berdayes/vincehome/courses/comm303/student%20projects/finchne www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=220458844
- Foundations of Marketing D. Jobber & J.Fahy 2003 p118
- Foundations of Marketing D. Jobber & J.Fahy 2003 p52
- Foundations of Marketing D. Jobber & J.Fahy 2003 p130
- Foundations of Marketing D. Jobber & J.Fahy 2003