The purpose of marketing is to build awareness for a brand and find a market that is suitable to purchase the wares that are being sold for any particular company. Academically we call this segmentation, and it occurs everywhere. In the restaurant industry, McDonalds is open to everyone, while the French Laundry only caters to the highest of the high for those who have the available income. In automotive, Honda and Toyota cater to everyone while McLaren and Porsche are only for those who seek the fastest of cars.
What about clothing? That title may belong to Abercrombie and Fitch.
Trending lately on social media is the controversy brewing from Abercrombie and Fitch, the clothing company that many know for bare chested and clothing-less models. Last week, CEO Mike Jeffries came out in declaring who his company caters to:
“A lot of people don’t belong (in our clothes), and they can’t belong. Are we exclusionary? Absolutely.”
The result of his words have been less than favorable. Influence from the mass media has made its way into clothing where an emphasis on clothing not just for thin models but also for those who are not thin, as H&M has done with their swimsuit line as of late. Personally I wouldn’t shop at Abercrombie and Fitch given their past, but we do have a choice. Abercrombie, given it’s line, feels the need to market to the “cool kids” and if they so feel obligated, they have more than their right to. Thankfully as conscious customers, we also have the obligation to spend our money where we please as well.
Boiled down to a few points, the Abercrombie and Fitch controversy boils down to this:
1. No company is obligated to you, and you are not obligated to any other company. Just as A&F has a modus operandi, so do other companies whose mission it is to market to a certain market. They want to send a message. Send yours.
2. Every company should understand the consequences beholden to them. So if CEO Jeffries sees less sales, so be it. His market will continue to shop there and those who don’t feel like shopping, shouldn’t.
3. Stand for something, or stand for nothing. I don’t claim to support Jeffries’ claim – to begin with I can’t even fit in his clothing. However that said he is a stand for something, and as superficial as we may all find that to be, it’s something to begin with because it puts his company on the map. Sure it might be insulting to people who may not fit in his clothing but are you about to complain if you can’t afford to purchase a Bugatti? Are you going to start a petition to lower their costs so they can fit your monetary needs?
Let us consider the true nature of where this is going. Abercrombie CEO Mike Jeffries is not beholden to you, and nor should you be insulted by him. Carry on with your message because he will carry on with his. If he sees fall out from the consequences then that is his loss — for the rest of us, let’s focus on what clothing we can fit in and how we can be more beautiful without the need for six-pack abs.
Image source: Wikipedia