The iconic teen retailer was once the king of cool. Abercrombie didn’t just embody cool, it was the definition. It was exclusive, symbolic. If Ambercrombie wasn’t the one hosting all the parties, it was the definitely the first person you invited to it. It was the popular kids. There was a time when that famed silhouette of a moose was the indicator you were the one everyone looked to, the one setting the trends. There was a time when the touristy thing to do in New York was to go take a picture with the sculpted shirtless models lingering outside their store. Because that’s what Abercrombie was: hot.
But then that all came to an end.
The New Consumer
Those who loved Abercrombie quickly moved on and grew up, leaving behind a brand spiraling into crisis. Abercrombie lost its niche, its edge, and struggled to define itself in a rapidly changing retail environment. Same store sales fell 8% in the first quarter of the year, and fell by 4% in the second quarter.
Where Abercrombie used to be the symbol of exclusion, a sign of what one aspired to be, it now faced death. Death by Zara
By Zara, you ask? Yes, fast fashion, the revolution led by Zara, was the first of two major causes which brought Abercrombie down. Abercrombie was centered around the idea that the consumer strived to fit in. They tried to conform to a certain look, and the Abercrombie logo plastered across a shirt was the symbol proving your popularity. Today’s consumer rejects that completely. Millennials are a generation which craves individual expression, not conformity, and fast fashion catered to exactly that. Stores like Zara gave you plenty of options, constantly changing options, to make sure you never arrived to the party looking just like everybody else. There were no logos, no identifiers. It was inclusive, unique, and affordable. Fast fashion was everything Abercrombie was not.
The second poison: the fall of the shopping mall. Malls are dying. More than two dozen malls in the US have closed. Anchor store Macy’s is set to shut down 40 of its stores, a signal that more malls may be poised to close soon as well.The millennial consumer is playing a huge part in that. Millennials like to shop online. They like to browse prices, compare, and have the convenience of options at their fingertips. They’re scrolling through online stores, on their phones and their tablets. The Millennial generation wants ease, instantaneity, and convenience.
With the fall of the mall, Abercrombie lost its prime customer. The cool kids used to hang out at the mall, stroll past Abercrombie, and buy their next outfit. But with a wide consumer base becoming extinct like the endangered species malls are, Abercrombie was forced to change its ways or die with them.
Can the Digital World be Abercrombie’s Resurrection?
Abercrombie fought to survive. It’s first adaptation was to do away with its classic logos and famed moose. Its newest collection is sleek, the clothes more unique, and the moose and other signs of branding conspicuously missing. With a new vibe, Abercrombie finally connected to the times and found what Millennials want.
Contributing even more to the comeback was their new marketing campaign. They retired their hypersexualized ways of advertising, in favor of a more naturalized mature image of the cool kid succeeding in the everyday world.They’re pushing their products on social media, especially on platforms like instagram, where they have gathered more than 2.5 million followers.
With its new look and marketing strategy, we may see the resurrection of the once unstoppable teen retailer.
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