Abercrombie and Fitch is Rethinking its Brand

Mike Jeffries A&F Messed up his own company - Couldn't have happened to a nicer bloke

Mike Jeffries A&F Messed up his own company – Couldn’t have happened to a nicer bloke

I love an article like this. Total Customer are reporting that Abercrombie & Fitch are having to remove their branding from their branded products, because it has become a turn-off for customers.

Last year, I wrote a post about their CEO Mike Jeffries treating their potential customers with huge disrespect, so I have to say whilst I’m laughing at their misfortune, I’m also reminding myself that you simply cannot ridicule your own customers.

Seven quarterly losses in a row tell quite how bad it is for them. This will eventually kill the brand, just like it did for Gerald Ratner.

Oops.

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A bit of a problem for the Abercrombie and Fitch brand

When you set out to create a brand you can design in certain criteria. By pricing it high, you exclude certain buying groups, by not even making XL sizes for women, you naturally exclude the larger ladies. They also place ‘beautiful people’ in a state of undress outside their stores as greeters. These decisions form the basis of the whole brand and who you target and appeal to. I am far to old/fat to be in their target audience (but so is their own MD!) and I am now quite proud to say I have never owned any of their products.

Mike Jeffries Abercrombie and Fitch Managing Director
Mike Jeffries Abercrombie and Fitch Managing Director – looking a little like a bad advertisement for facial surgery – and certainly not in his own target audience

But Abercrombie and Fitch have taken this brand separation to a new level by destroying all damaged or returned goods rather than giving them to the homeless, as many other brands do. All very deliberate and all very elitist. the assumption being that seeing homeless people in A&F would embarrass their own beautiful customers.

But here comes the brand backlash. 7.5 million views in less than a month, and growing fast. Watch this space. It may be the next Gerald Ratner moment for the A&F brand.