Monday, October 3, 2011

Michael Jeffries of Abercrombie for President

Pic courtesy of KayleeBlahBlahh Site.

It's funny how quickly the public is to scrutinize high level executives that make a lot of money without looking at the whole ginormous Marketing-Mogul picture. The other day I happened upon an old article chastising Michael Jeffries the 60-something CEO of Abercrombie and Fitch (name dates to 1892 although not exactly the same company...long story...) for making an excessive salary.  Well, perhaps I'm one of the minority with my thinking that his contribution to A&F is priceless.   Jeffries started merchandising stores when he was 12. He knows how to take something, brand it, ENHANCE IT, and make it stick.  Revival I suppose is just what A&F needed or it would have went out of business.  Perhaps they weren't exactly a dying breed prior to Jeffries, but surely would have been left in the dark without him in this day and age. Who would have predicted our economy would slump so bad...
Abercrombie via Bitten/Bound.  Oh yeah, the clothes feel great. 
In retrospect, Jeffries has taken the store to whole new levels. There was a time (17 months is the supposed number that's thrown out there a lot) where he refused to lower the prices at A&F.....even when consumer stopped buying and A&F had a very low profit year.  Jeffries got a lot of slack from that, but no one stopped to look at why. Jeffries obviously believed in his company's products and believed these products retained their value even during a bad economy.  Should Gucci put their watches on sale just because we are in a bad economy?  Should Versace half price everything because stocks have dropped? Should your favorite ice cream half their prices? Should McDonald's offer their dollar menu for fifty cents? The answer lies therein. The theory was that the market of people that shopped at A&F  had the money to buy at this price point, and that this market of people appreciated the quality of clothing , and that the clothing was retaining it's value in a defunct economy.  
Abercrombie TShirt via Argo Site, $33.78, wait for the sales and snag it as low as $11.74.

Some things have changed a bit. Currently Clearance, Sale, or Redline items are always on their website, and often you can even get free shipping on top of that if you spend enough.  This also applies to their Hollister and Gilly Hicks brands too, often running famous "50% off sales". By the time you shop sale or redline/clearance items and get free shipping it's the same price at shopping at Target, and sometimes even less than Walmart.

What's amazing is that the target audience for Hollister was 14-18 and Abercrombie was originally consumers 18-22 (according to this old 2007 Press Release). However, with the closure of the adult line Ruehl (which was originally targeted to the 25-35 crowd), Abercrombie is now worn by the 29-and-holding crowd too. Hell, it's even worn by the 60-something Jeffries. So, imagine that a closure of one line has resulted in additional sales for the A&F line due to the fact people (above 22) WANT the clothing ...

David Beckham, born in 1975, are those Abercrombie shorts? Courtesy: Fashion Rising.

Stars wear it too. Halle Berry, David & Victoria Beckham, Jennifer Love Hewitt, Ciara, Mike the Situation, Ashley Tisdale, Nicole Ritchie , the list goes on..... There is a comfort factor that's second to none. Often made in other countries these fabric blends are truly sought after due to comfort and durability.  Those I've experienced are soft and cuddly.. For those of you who think A&F are too expensive, if washing directions are followed the clothes will last you three times as long as something bought at Walmart or Target, so you are essentially getting more for your buck.  Whether you think so or not, I'm certain from years in retail and talking to buyers that much time is spent focusing on design, fit, and making sure the fabric is just right for the garment.

Others buy due to their very "sexy" marketing campaign, which is often onset of a new buzz every time a new campaign poster or racy catalog comes out. 

So, what is the price you pay a CEO who has revived a dying business and sent it into a whole new era making consistent profits? What is the price you pay him for running a company who is so sure of the quality of their items that they held steadfast for 17+ months without lowering prices? What is the price you pay him for running a company that has the b*lls to ask (by offering to pay) Mike the Situation to stop wearing their clothes and not care if their stock dips 8 or 10 points after doing so? What is the price you pay him for leading a company that is so confident in the names of their items they are willing to go up against Beyonce's fragrance line with legal disputes?

Heck, how much do you pay to the CEO, when even BAD publicity creates sales?  A few years back in Virginia the buzz was when Abercrombie "buttocks" posters were confiscated by police , (a free plug for the brand can only create sales). Even fake stories like when Cameron Diaz got upset over not being able to purchase a T-Shirt (of which I doubt was even theirs).

Anyhow, the point I'm trying to make is any good marketing professor will tell you "Jeffries is priceless." So I'm just wondering why Jeffries doesn't run for President and apply these same principals to our now headed for disaster country? Revive the good 'ol USA and put the value back into our country? Maybe I'm the only one that thinks it would be a nice change to see a 60-something President in comfortable clothing and coming up with some fresh ideas to market the country back into the limelight again. 
Hell, maybe the ads may be enough to get America motivated, Abercrombie va Wolfprint Online.
Exciting news, I'm working on a new site called Design-Swag. Check it out! http://Design-Swag.com
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