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Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Brands: Knowing your target

An interview with Abercrombie & Fitch's CEO Mike Jeffries reveals that while he is a bit eccentric and perhaps uses too many bleaching products for a 61-year-old, he does know his target inside and out.

"As far as Jeffries is concerned, America's unattractive, overweight or otherwise undesirable teens can shop elsewhere. "In every school there are the cool and popular kids, and then there are the not-so-cool kids," he says. "Candidly, we go after the cool kids. We go after the attractive all-American kid with a great attitude and a lot of friends. A lot of people don't belong [in our clothes], and they can't belong. Are we exclusionary? Absolutely. Those companies that are in trouble are trying to target everybody: young, old, fat, skinny. But then you become totally vanilla. You don't alienate anybody, but you don't excite anybody, either."


AKI SYSTEMS 2600 said...

Frankly, I applaud his clarity of purpose. I agree with him that fashion is hardly a necessity of life, and watering down your target to appeal to everyman essentially appeals to no man. And therein is the big secret to successful fashion brands, but you can't tell most. I do wonder though about A+F's subtle homoerotica, did they find that middle america is somehow attracted to square-jawed wrestlers piling onto one another at a rustic cabin? I always suspected the imagery was self-centered appealing only to the manufacturers who produced it, but clearly it resonates broadly. Go figure Middle America.

Mnels said...

Clarity is good but the premise (cool kids vs loser kids) is flawed. Teens don't organize themselves as vertically as in the past. If you know any teens, they are affiliated with any number of special interest groups - a sports team, a video game, a leisure activity, etc. They don't have the rigid social hierachy of cool vs. loser but many shades in between. By proclaiming its exclusivity, and non-democratic philosophy, A&F has proclaimed its inevitable demise. Live by cool, die by cool. Incidentally, my high school nephews say this brand is toast.

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