Much of the exposure could be perceived as negative – or is it?
First, the hoopla stems from an interview CEO Mike Jeffries gave to Salon in 2006. That’s right – seven years ago. There Jeffries made this statement when responding to a question about sex appeal, “It’s almost everything. That’s why we hire good-looking people in our stores. Because good-looking people attract other good-looking people, and we want to market to cool, good-looking people. We don’t market to anyone other than that.”
Jeffries does not say anything about not selling their product to people who are overweight or fat. But the media has made that connection and people feel offended.
We’re not defending Jeffries or Abercrombie and Kent. Frankly their product is so far my personal radar I have no opinion about the product – unless you get me started on how the current ownership has massacred the Abercrombie and Kent brand.
But we do have a perspective on the overall brouhaha:
- What Is Said Online Matters - The fact Jeffries comment is 7 years old seems to be irrelevant to the issue as well as to those who are making noise about it. Social media, interviews, blogs (like this one), etc. leave a digital voice print. Be mindful of what is said online.
- Know Your Target Audience - This is an essential part of our services at Thought-Tech. We admire the fact Jeffries has a clear vision of who Abercrombie and Kent is targeting.
- Tailor The Definition Of Your Target Audience - Smooth out the statement so it is not perceived as offensive. Exclusivity is fine, just don’t wrap it in snootiness.
- There Will Always Be Cool And Uncool Kids - Abercrombie and Kent or Mike Jeffries did not invent coolness and exclusionary behavior in children. It’s possible his company’s products facilitated it but social behavior starts early and is molded by the peers and family of every child. For those parents who are outraged about Abercrombie and Kent…perhaps they should take stock of what they’ve done to help make their kids either uncool or cool
As Jeffries’ statement blew up in the last week or so he said that his “7-year-old, resurrected quote has been taken out of context,” but did admit that the brand “targets its marketing at a particular segment of customers.”
Like it or not – knowing who you are selling to is imperative in business today. Gone are the days of throwing something up on the wall to see if it sticks. To that point Abercrombie and Kent is on target.
In the mail were glossy well-produced catalogs from Frontgate, REI, ULINE and Chefwear. The last one clearly represents the challenge of catalogs – list rental. None of us at Thought-Tech are chef’s, work in restaurant business or own a stake in food service. So the folks at Chefwear may have spent good money on sending their catalog to an address that will not produce revenue. Or did they introduce their brand to someone who’d never heard of Chefwear before.
Right now it looks like both.
Chefwear, in Addison, Illinois, has a complete line pants, jackets, shirts, footwear, headwear – all for the stylish chef. Some of their product is downright good-looking.
But back to catalogs. In today’s omnichannel world there may be a place for catalogs. Consumer Reports estimates we are exposed to around 250 marketing messages daily. This number is bit more realistic that the 2,500 to 3,000 messages tossed around by those who believe walking down an aisle in a grocery store exposes us to hundreds of marketing messages. We don’t buy it.
We do believe taking a digital only approach to marketing is short-sighted. Catalogs can trigger a reminder to go to a website, read a blog or check the brand’s Facebook page.
The catalog side of sales and marketing took it hard beginning in 2007 and into 2008. Catalogs are making a comeback and the global mail order business is projected to reach $835 billion in 2015. That’s some serious coin.
Marketing to an audience that’s overexposed to branding messages is a challenge. Ignoring a proven winner like catalogs is a mistake.
These, combined with your product work together to create your corporate persona. This is how consumers identify a brand, relate to it and transact to it.
Who hasn’t driven down a busy boulevard with eyes darting the strip malls searching for the green word Starbucks or the white circle that makes the Starbucks logo?
Considering the importance of a brand’s logo it’s surprising how many companies are tempted to tinker with their logo.
Brands like Netflix, Gap and Tropicana have had brand. logo and corporate persona disasters. More recently in JCPenney. They’ve redesigned their logo so many times in the past several years half of America no longer recognizes it. Yikes!
JCPenney is attempting to recover from the damaging strategies it took on during ex-CEO Ron Johnson’s tenure. Its logo is one of its main concerns, with branding surveys showing JCP logo awareness dropped as much as 28 percentage points from 2010 and 2012.
It costs precious time and money to brand (or re-brand) your business, so if you’re going to do it, you need to do it right. So how do you make sure your next branding experience is a hit? Here are our top four tips:
Get your thinking straight - In many ways the strategic planning behind a brand is more important the brand itself. Invest some time and effort into getting this important foundation straight and the actual development of your brand should be smooth sailing.
Hire a professional for at least some of the process - Even if your budget doesn’t stretch to hiring an outside team for the whole journey, consider bringing in some outside advice to help you stand back and see how your brand looks (and has the potential to look) from the outside.
See the big picture - No matter how tempting it may seem, don’t pay someone to design your logo and then just apply it to your collateral yourself. Branding is about so much more than just plastering a logo everywhere, and important consideration needs to be made around how the logo fits in with your other design elements, and how your brand works across different materials to ensure consistency and a professional finish.
Invest in brand guidelines - These give you a watertight guide of how your brand should be used, now and in the future. A good set of brand guidelines will make sure your branding investment is protected, no matter who is working with your brand.
Be mindful of your brand. Changing it is like disarming a bomb. One false move and KABLOOM!
American’s love of cashmere has become tough on the planet.
First, a little background. Cashmere is one of the softest, warmest, and longest lasting materials on the market today. Cashmere fibers become softer as it is worn more. Cashmere is said to be eight times warmer than sheep’s wool, and about that many times softer.
Cashmere is also one of the most expensive fibers on the market today.
Cashmere originates from Kashmiri goats found in the Himalayas. Cashmere wool comes from the downy undercoat that grows on goats from midsummer to winter. The quality varies from goat to goat. The long hair on goats protects the cashmere down from the elements. It is removed each spring by shearing or gradual combing of the goat’s hair.
Goats produce about three to eight ounces of cashmere per year. The average single ply women’s sweater requires approximately ten ounces of wool, which is equivalent to about three or four goats. Yikes!
The quality of cashmere wool is measured by its length, texture, and the diameter of the fiber. The quality is affected by the climate, and nutrients that the goats consume. The climate and geography of Mongolia is especially suited for herding goats because they thrive in harsh dry mountainous climates. The highest quality of wool is found in these climates. Goats cannot grow the downy coats that produce cashmere in moderate climates.
A dramatic increase in cashmere demand has resulted in larger herd sizes on alpine grazeland that cannot withstand intensive grazing. Larger goat herds in sensitive terrain = extreme environmental stress.
Cashmere goats are tough on the fragile land. They:
- Consume more than 10 percent of their body weight daily in roughage
- Eat very close to the roots, destroying plants
- Damage topsoil and grass root systems with their sharp hoofs
- Yield per cashmere goat is also very low
- World production of coarse cashmere about 15,000 to 20,000 tons—as little as 6,500 tons of “pure cashmere” after scouring and de-hairing
The result has been desertification of the Inner Mongolian region, causing increasingly severe and frequent dust storms in China that travel around the world.
Desertification from overgrazing is the largest environmental threat to the cashmere industry in Mongolia. Almost 30% of Mongolia’s territory has the conditions necessary for desertification to occur. About 13% of desertification is due to nature and the other 87% of desertification in Mongolia is caused by humans. Desertification has affected 30% of pasture lands in Mongolia. Pasture lands account for a total of 80% of Mongolia’s land mass. The population of goats is a problem because goats destroy grasslands and soil. These environmental problems are caused to a large extent by the very thing that Mongolians make their living by doing. Global demand will only worsen the problem because of the economic pressure to produce more.
The solution? Buy polyester fleece. Some of which is made from recycled soda bottles. It’s soft, warm, easy-care and doesn’t turn China into a desert.
Global clothing brands involved in Bangladesh’s troubled garment industry responded in different ways to the building collapse that killed more than 600 people. Some quickly acknowledged their links to the tragedy and promised compensation. Others denied they authorized work at factories in the building even when their labels were found in the rubble.
There have been three deadly disasters in Bangladesh’s $20 billion garment industry in the past six months. A factory fire killed 112 workers in November and a January blaze killed seven.
Over the past decade, major players in the fashion industry have flocked to Bangladesh, where a minimum wage of about $38 a month has helped boost profits in a global business worth $1 trillion a year. Clothing and textiles now make up 80% of Bangladesh’s exports and employ several million people.
For brands doing business in Bangladesh, there are two paths to take.
First – the high road. Admit presence in the factory. Retailers and clothing brands can protect their reputations by visibly and genuinely working to overhaul safety in Bangladesh’s garment factories.
Only a few companies, including Britain’s Primark and Canada’s Loblaw Inc., which owns the Joe Fresh clothing line, have acknowledged production at Rana Plaza and promised compensation.
The alternative is to distance your brand from Bangladesh production altogether. Brands downplaying involvement in Bangladesh’s factory safety problems may be counting on the short memories of Western consumers, who tend to focus on price and may not even check where a piece of clothing has been made.
This is not without risk. In the months to come it’s likely there will be continued coverage of the overhaul of the garment industry in Bangladesh. As that unfolds brands will be exposed. They will then be forced to come clean. And the repercussion?
Well, it can take decades to build a brand reputation. Heck, when Steve Jobs returned to Apple in 1996, eleven years after being fired, the Apple brand (and company) was in shambles. Fast forward to today where Apple is the most revered brand on the planet.
Just as it can take only a few months to take down a brand as has happened at JCPenney.
U.S. consumers talk a big game. They say they prefer Made in the U.S.A., they want more ‘green’ production and they want safety for factory workers. But in the end they vote with their wallets. And they generally gravitate to cheaper prices. Today Bangladesh is a source of cheap product. There’s a pretty good chance those days are nearing an end.
According to a survey conducted by Leger Marketing on behalf of Walmart Canada, Canadians would pay their mom an average annual salary of $161,287 per year. If that were possible it’s likely there’d be many more stay at home Mom’s and the world would be a better place.
Think about it for a minute. Most Mom’s wear so many hats they need an SUV to hold all those hats. Roles like driver, medic, chef, therapist, coach, tutor, housekeeper – and the list goes on.
Those Canadians are little wacky when it comes to identifying their ideal Mom character. Walmart’s survey also asked Canadians who they thought embodied the quintessential TV mom. The Cosby Show’s Clair Huxtable led the poll being named by one in five respondents (21%). Marge Simpson of The Simpsons came in second at 17%. When asked who their mom would be if she was a superhero, 43% said Wonder Woman, followed by the Bionic Woman at 23%.
What about Marion Cunningham from Happy Days? Or Barbara Billingsley, “As June Cleaver” on Leave It To Beaver? Or Morticia Addams on the Addams Family? Or Carol Brady on the Brady Bunch?
Absurd? Of, course!
But everyone has their favorite Mom on TV and in real life.
This year let the real life Mom know how much she is truly appreciated.
According to National Retail Federation’s Mother’s Day spending survey conducted by BIGinsight, consumers will spend an average of $168.94 on mom, up 11% from last year’s $152.52. Total spending is expected to reach $20.7 billion.
Do your part. Break leather for Mom. You’ll be glad you did.