Tough Retail: 7 Ways to Grow Your Consumer Brand

Seismic Changes Are Happening to Retail

Under-employment, stagnant wages, historically high school debt, credit card debt, large healthcare deductibles, staggering urban rent, first homes, weddings and new babies, is there any wonder why Millennials seek value in their discretionary purchases like apparel, accessories, footwear and home?

This is the overhang from a deep recession, the Affordable Care Act and lackluster recovery. It has given rise to the Amazon-effect, outlets, successful discounters like TJX, fast-fashion, rental, consignment and intense comparison shopping. Who can afford to pay full-price?

Practically every retailer and brand is chasing the most cash-strapped generation in decades, because the Millennial generation, ages 15-33 is now the largest population in the US, finally surpassing the much wealthier Baby Boomers and Generation X.

A quote in the Wall Street Journal on May 12, really caught my attention. “Non-discretionary spending on health, insurance, education, and housing has taken an extra 4% out of personal consumption expenditures in 2015 compared with 2000, according to Craig Johnson, president of consulting firm Customer Growth Partners. That has reduced the discretionary spending available for traditional retailers by $500 billon, more than the combined annual sales of Walmart Stores and Costco Wholesale combined.” No wonder  we are seriously over-stored.

Traffic is down at brick and mortar retailers, everyone is trying to explain it, but the reasons are actually quite obvious. There are huge headwinds on spending, so consumers are chasing good deals or staying home.

Online retail, even though it represents less than 10% of all purchases is the fastest growing retail channel. This reflects the ease of comparison shopping, selection and simplicity for insanely time-strapped consumers. It isn’t the best way to browse or make impulse purchases. Who goes on Amazon, just to see what’s new?

Survival Strategies in Tough Times for Consumer Brands

What should apparel, footwear, home and consumer discretionary companies do to combat intense spending headwinds? Here are seven ways to grow in tough times:

Offer brand value. Brands with a consistent, clear identity and experience will rise above the clutter and command higher prices than weak concepts and me-too products. Think Apple, Nike, Under Armour, Kate Spade, Madewell and West Elm.

Be strategically focused on core strengths. It’s necessary to test new things, but focus on your sweet spots, invest in your strengths and best brands. Don’t get romanced with low-value, expensive projects and extensions.

Value great design. Creativity and innovation create demand and pricing power. Big marketing efforts without great products to back them up, won’t fool consumers, who value authenticity.

Look for untapped markets or niche opportunities. For instance, the  underserved plus-size markets for women and men, trending activities, hot fitness trends, growing sports, hobbies, etc..

Increase DTC efforts. Many stores will close, decreasing available doors for your apparel, footwear and consumer products. Your direct to consumer efforts online, with company-owned stores, pop-up stores, partnerships, direct mail etc., will help you control your brand message and destiny.

Think beyond Millennials. Brands with cross-generational “lifestyle” appeal will weather the competitive storm better than discretionary fashion brands just targeting Millennials. Baby Boomers have the greatest wealth in the history of the US and are due to inherit even more, even though they also took a hit during the Recession.

Take risks. This is counterintuitive in bad times. Hire experienced and visionary people who can execute a well-balanced strategy of taking creative risks while covering established business.

 

Some other posts you might enjoy:

7 Common Fashion Brand Management Mistakes

The New Definition of Athletic Apparel

Decoding Millennial Shopping Traits & Habits

 

The Dix & Pond Blog, by Stephanie Bernier is the blog of  Dix & Pond Consulting, a Boston-based, company that consults on business strategy, creative direction, brand experience, trends, product development and merchandising. Clients include retailers, apparel, footwear & consumer companies.  CONTACT US TODAY! 

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7 Common Fashion Brand Management Mistakes

Great Fashion Brands Sell A Promise, Much More Than Products

It’s easy to think of fashion, consumer or retail brands that have lost substantial brand value over the decades. A great example is Talbot’s, once a venerable specialty retail force that sold customers a promise of the well-bred New England costal life. They also happened to sell preppy clothes and accessories. Over decades and several owners, the brand has been diluted to a unremarkable chain of apparel stores, a mere shadow of it’s storied past.

Great brands sell a relatable promise, values and even fantasies at an accepted value/price relationship. Products are number one, but it so much more than product. If you can’t identify and express this “magic quotient” in your fashion or retail brand, you have a serious problem. This is a big part of the “why me?” of a brand.

The “magic” is often so intangible that owners, managers, finance, merchandisers and even creative staff don’t get it. They find themselves stewards of a brand without the know-how to take it forward, without losing it’s soul. They collectively tinker with the recipe, ending up with a thin soup. Their individual actions are often random and lack a singular vision.

7 Common Fashion Brand Management Mistakes

Consumer goods, especially apparel, home and footwear markets are brutally competitive today. Brand relevance and management has never been more critical in these fashion businesses. Here are 7 common fashion brand management mistakes:

  • The brand doesn’t have a clearly understood brand promise that the whole organization works from.
  • The company targets the wrong persona for the brand.
  • The products aren’t compelling and/or full of mixed messages. They extend the brand into new categories without a shepherd with a consistent vision.
  • Companies have the wrong people in key positions. Creative directors are often the brand visionary and steward for brand integrity across the organization. Hiring a poor creative leader can have disastrous results. A great creative director can get the best out of an average design and marketing team. They have to be clear , motivational leaders and able to stand up to equally senior employees in the company.
  • Companies sometimes overly-empower newly-minted designers, assuming they innately know what customers want. Experience does matter.
  • Design, merchandising and sales teams continue to repeat the same products without evolving the products for modern needs and relevance. They may be blind to demographic and fashion trends that affect the brand. Some insiders resist change.
  • Sometimes management outsources brand reinvention to branding and marketing agencies without the experience or market knowledge to make sense of the real path to growth.

Sorel,  A Perfect Case Study in Brand Evolution

Whether a brand is two, five years or many decades old, it’s value and brand promise has to be continually monitored for current relevance. It’s difficult to turn around a flagging brand, not impossible, when things have gone too far. I perfect case study is Sorel of Ontario, Canada.

Sorel was a men’s and women’s winter boot brand owned by Kaufman Rubber Company started in 1962 in Canada. At one point, they were one of the largest suppliers of waterproof “outdoor” boots in the world.

In 2000, the brand was bought out of bankruptcy for $8 million by Columbia Sportswear, of Beaverton, OR. The line plodded along until 2008, when they decided to revamp the brand. Sorel is now a big growth story at Columbia and was projected to do $200M in 2015 sales. (sales were $60M in 2009).

Sorel president Mark Nenow is quoted as saying to Bloomberg… “We’re going to make it about style, we’re going to make it about premium, we’re going to make it about design, we’re going to make it impossible to ignore.” He also said it is going to be about women, women, women.”  They started to make more feminine boot styles aimed at urban, fashion conscious women. The strategy upped the fashion ante, within the framework of brand heritage. Design and marketing delivered a consistent message. Sales grew rapidly.

They tried a pop-up shop in Manhattan in December of 2014 and it was a hit. It became their first permanent store. They recently opened a store in Burlington, MA.

This store stopped me in my tracks. It put Sorel in a whole new light for me, from “that boot brand” to “I gotta have it”.  They didn’t take the expected route of an “outdoor” store with winter and mountain references. It has a nod to heritage with their polar bear logo in a fun wall patchwork, but the brand experience is a hip, fashion store with rustic contemporary displays and lighting.

They now design a complementary  collection of innovative, “active, boot-inspired” sandals and booties that would make any fashion lover swoon, whatever the season. The newborns have the DNA of the traditional classic boots. They’re sexy, edgy and rugged.

I think about the marketing journey I travelled to see the brand as fashion, instead of functional winter boots. Fashion credibility started by seeing the boots at Nordstrom, but experiencing their store and the unique shoe collection changed my perception entirely. I can’t say I saw anything on social or other media. It was the store and the shoes that changed everything.

Sorel is the perfect example of a heritage fashion brand with a modern evolution. Genius!

 

Some other posts you might enjoy:

Are The Sporting Goods & Outdoor Industries in a Death Spiral

The New Definition of Athletic Apparel

Decoding Millennial Shopping Traits & Habits

The Dix & Pond Blog, by Stephanie Bernier is the blog of  Dix & Pond Consulting, a Boston-based, company that consults on trends, creative direction, brand experience, business strategy, product development and merchandising. Clients include retailers, apparel, footwear & consumer companies.  CONTACT US TODAY! 

Thank you for liking and sharing this, if you enjoyed the post! 

Decoding Millennial Shopping Traits & Habits

Decoding Millennial female shopping habits has become an obsession for companies, marketers, researchers and bloggers alike. Because this group is so large, the Millennial female is seen as the present and future of retail and understanding her is key to their success. There is endless hypothesis on what she wants and how she shops.

Millennials represent almost a quarter of the US population.

Millennials represent almost a quarter of the US population.

Who are Millennials?

According to the US Census Bureau Millennials are people born between 1982 and 2000. That makes them 33 to 15 years old. This group represents 83.1 million people and is more than one quarter of the US population. Baby Boomers, the formerly largest population group, is those born between 1946 and 1964. They are ages 69 to 51. Obviously Baby Boomers are getting smaller as the group ages. However they are still a large group and the wealthiest population in US history, so cannot be overlooked, by retailers.

Defining Millennial people ranging in age 15-33 as one homogeneous group, has it’s pitfalls. The life stages of teen priorities versus a young adult building a grown-up life, are quite different.

Teen’s lives focus on their school career, friends, social events, sports and maybe a part-time job. They generally want to “fit-in” with peers. Their money is mostly spent on fashion, technology and entertainment.

Young adults post-college, are socializing, building careers, getting married, setting up first homes and having children. They are socially influenced, but with maturity, they lean more toward more individualism. They are entering the part of their lives when they start to be adult consumers for wedding services, home goods, cars, insurance, housing, etc.

There are some generalizations you can make for all Millennials:

  • They are very budget conscious and serious deal seekers. Obviously, teens have limited spending power. Young adults are coping with weak employment, stagnant wages, unprecedented school debt and dealing with rapidly rising rents, as they start making larger, adult life purchases.
  • They are digitally savvy. The younger Millennials have grown up with technology all their lives.
  • Because of technology they access information and discover new brands continuously. They are very informed, brand aware and also brand agnostic for many items. They move on quickly to the next big thing.
  • They are very influenced by peers through social media and word-of-mouth.
  • They love to “share” the shopping experience.
  • They are more racially diverse than previous generations, because of immigration and higher birth rates in some groups. According to the US Census, 44.2 percent of Millennials are part of a minority race or ethnic group (other than non-Hispanic white).

Big Shifts in Retail Because of Millennials

It is no wonder why certain shopping channels or habits, have risen dramatically in the past several years, as they are driven by Millennial shoppers:

  • Fast Fashion: This frugal, diverse group has driven the meteoric rise of fast fashion stores such as Forever 21, H&M, Zara, Old Navy and will ensure the success of US newcomer Primark. These fast turning, cheap stores are just what the budget conscious Millennial wants. She can find a wide range of looks to meet her diverse cultural tastes. Being brand agnostic for apparel, the deal is more important than the label.
  • Online and brick and mortar consignment stores: The market for consignment of apparel, handbags accessories, jewelry and shoes is booming. This is a perfect solution for the budget conscious and brand aware Millennial. She can consign her discards on the same site as she picks up used, pricey branded items at a fraction of the cost. See sites such as Poshmark, ThredUp and Tradesy.
  • Rental fashion sites: Millennials drive the sharing economy. These tight-fisted, brand aware females get the brands they love on rental or rent to purchase sites of designer, everyday, wedding, plus size and maternity clothes such as Rent The Runway, Le Tote, Mine for Nine, Gwynnie Bee and Borrowing Magnolia.
  • Mass customization: The individualist Millennial has driven the trend of brand customization online for apparel, sneakers, handbags, jewelry, etc.
  • Social shopping: Millennials love to share… their photos, purchases, experiences and thoughts, like no generation before. Social sharing sites like Instagram, SnapChat, Pinterest, Facebook, etc. give them a platform for approval or to boast about their fashion finds. They can shop while simultaneously sending photos to friends for approval. They can see what friends are already wearing, too.
  • They do their research: This is the information generation. They do their homework online before making a purchase. They scout out the best deals, look for coupons and comparison shop to stretch their budget. More often than not they make the final purchase in-store however. E-commerce has grown tremendously, but brick and mortar sales still represent over 90% of retail sales.

In review, if targeting the Millennial customer you have to consider her life stage and culturally diverse tastes. She can’t be thought of as like-minded thinkers. Millennials  like to engage with brands that share their values, but can be brand agnostic and fickle. This is the greatest information and sharing generation, that loves to score a great deal.

Dix&Pond is the blog of Dix & Pond Consulting, Boston-based, product development, creative, branding, business consulting and executive coaching for apparel, footwear, home & consumer products companies and retail analysts. Follow me to get the latest posts

Thank you for liking and sharing this, if you enjoyed the post!

The 10 Common Traits of Great Leaders

In my consulting and executive coaching,  I get to meet entrepreneurs, CEO’s and business leaders all the time. After years of observation, I see 10 common traits that the great leaders possess. These attributes are especially important for creative team leadership. The very best have most of them. If you have less than 7 you may want to rethink your career path:Great Leaders

1. Strategic thinker. This one should go without saying. A great leader needs to have a vision of where they want to take an organization today, tomorrow and into the future. Design directors must have true vision for the brand and the products. They are not caught up deciding on the new chairs for the conference room or a random Twitter post.

2. Strong communication skills. Great leaders are present and available. They say what they mean and mean what they say. No one in the organization should be confused on the business strategy or state-of-affairs. They have a common touch and emotional intelligence.

3. Decisiveness and courage are kissing cousins. Democracy and collaboration are important, but someone has to keep a company in forward motion. A good commander knows when to stop the madness and make a decision.

4. Good listener. The best leaders truly listen to other view points and don’t believe they hit all the home runs. They listen twice as much, as they speak. Their employees feel valued, as the respect is mutual.

5. Ability to delegate. Delegation is about trust. The best top dogs allow their team to run with the ball. They don’t try to score every goal from their place on the field.

6. Excellent teacher. Confidence is wanting others to succeed around you. Your subordinates are your report card. The smart skippers teach their flock to fish.

7. Committed. Leadership is hard work. You can’t be half-in and win the gold. If a leader is busier planning their trek to the Himalayas, they might want to relinquish the top spot.

8. Disciplined. Show me a person who eats well, exercises regularly and doesn’t smoke or do substances and I’ll show you someone with discipline and probably a very good leader.

9. Organized. Disorganized chaos isn’t a plan. Stellar leadership and proactive planning are like salt and pepper.

10. Humble. Last but not least, humility is a wonderful thing. The best leaders let others feel the sunshine.

Dix&Pond is the blog of Dix & Pond Consulting, Consulting and executive coaching for retail, wholesale apparel, footwear, consumer products and branding agencies. Follow me to get the latest posts

6 Five-Star Specialty Retailers in a Lackluster Field

I was shopping in New York recently and feeling rather uninspired. I usually have an agenda, a new store or retailer, I am particularly excited about. Most large retailers make their own apparel and accessory products, so the watery soup is often spoiled by too many cooks, adding their managerial spice. It’s increasingly hard to find good retail theater, a strong brand identity and exciting, well-designed product, that hasn’t been tainted by levels of bureaucrats.

I challenged myself to come up with 6 “five-star” retailers that are doing an outstanding job, with a consistent brand experience and compelling fashion in a lackluster field:

1. Madewell, 2. Athleta, 3. Club Monaco, 4. Michael Kors, 5. Zara, 6. Lou & Grey

1. Madewell, 2. Athleta, 3. Club Monaco, 4. Michael Kors, 5. Zara, 6. Lou & Grey

Madewell – is the baby sister of J. Crew. I have been a long-time J. Crew proponent, even though the mothership has stumbled lately. Madewell is coming into its own with American casual classics, based around core denim pieces. You know to expect great jeans, chambray shirts, denim jackets, hip tees and knits, funky socks, rustic leather bags and shoes and slightly bohemian jewelry. The colors are simple and lean to the neutral side. The collection is totally wearable and much better-than-average quality for the price, a winning combination. This high-growth chain has little competition in the mall and will now be sold in Nordstrom as well.

Athleta – I was not a fan of fan of Athleta when Gap purchased it in 2008 for a mere $150 million. At the time their “zen-like” yoga prints and mass-market color sense paled against activewear, fashion pioneer Lululemon. Gap was betting on the powerful athleisure trend in apparel and has put their considerable product development muscle and resources behind the chain. They now have over 100 stores and have shed those expected “new-age” prints for a powerful collection of more urbane, sexy, forward clothing. They get that the athletic trend is worn as much out of the gym, as in, with their deep collection of cosmopolitan casual dresses, knit tops, bottoms and huge assortment of mix and match swimwear. I actually bought a $500 leather jacket at this formerly “perky” yoga chain and have never even done a downward dog.

Club Monaco – is a Canadian-based acquisition, part of the Ralph Lauren Corporation. Certainly not a household word, they only have approximately 140 stores worldwide. Club Monaco offers women’s and men’s collections of modern, urbane classics at affordable luxury prices points. Tasteful, upscale and contemporary, they are especially strong in knit tops, dresses, jackets, skirts and accessories for work and play. The quality of design and materials, far exceeds the price points to make Club Monaco a fairly hidden gem.

Michael Kors – Wandering through Macy’s first floor flagship the other day, I was blown away by the crowd of at least 40 people in the Michael Kors shop. The Coach concession across the hall had 2 visitors. it wasn’t a special event, it was business as usual for this hot-shot, brand-of-the-moment.

Michael Kors is a text-book example of consistent branding. The uber-glam handbags, watches, shoes and “bit of an after note”, clothing are precisely on the same urbane plane. Their stores, website, marketing collateral and product are as in sync as an Argentine tango. Chock it up as a real designer with one eye for everything. Even if you are getting tired of his ubiquitous bags, this brand is fashion branding royalty.

Zara – is fast-fashion at it’s finest. Owned by Spanish parent Inditex, in my book it blows away competitors H&M and Forever 21. They consistently put out easy-to-shop collections of fashion forward apparel and accessories, that defy their puny price points. Taken out of context the styling and quality could be mistaken for some of the best. There is no doubt what to expect at Zara, the best fashion trends in real-time, at really low prices. Zara brand profile as fashion leader, is crystal clear.

Lou & Grey – is a new free-standing store concept brand from parent Ann, Inc. It was born from the success of loungy apparel in their Loft chain. When I stumbled upon the Natick, Ma concept store, I was pleasantly surprised by the small sophisticated, upscale environment and compelling collection of lifestyle casual apparel and earthy accessories. This is the best thing Ann Inc. has done in a while. It is easier to do something new than reinvent history. Ann Taylor and Loft have become sterilized versions of their glory days with poor quality, dull offerings and banal stores. Currently only 7 stores,  Lou & Grey is one to watch.

Dix&Pond is the blog of Dix & Pond Consulting Creative and strategic consulting for retail, wholesale apparel, footwear, consumer products and branding agencies. Follow me to get the latest posts

Bloody Truth- Why Hot Entrepreneurs Start to Fail

Three, five maybe fifteen years ago, you were a hot entrepreneur in the consumer, fashion or tech space. You were the cool startup, the one getting tons of attention, calls from VCs and interview requests. You were growing rapidly and could do no wrong. Things have started to slide. Now the fresh-faced startups are getting all the press.

There are real leadership reasons, I see them every day. They are painful and bloody revelations. Do you have the courage to read on?

Here are the 12 biggies:

1. Numbers don’t lie. There are reasons for your slide or stagnant sales. When sales dip there is always a reason. You can blame the economy, the weather or currency fluctuations, but there are always other painful reasons that leaders often don’t want to face.

2. You surrounded yourself with friends in key leadership roles. When people start companies they often surround themselves with friends, relatives and available people who will take a lesser salary to work with other friends. You often chose talent on price not quality. These early managers aren’t necessarily the ones to lead a company through growth or tougher times. It is also very hard for entrepreneurs to hold them accountable for poor performance. This is one of the most damaging of the biggies.

3. You aren’t focused on the priorities. Many companies start to lose focus on the core business or model that created their success. Lululemon lost sight of their “fashion driven” model, while edgier competitors sprouted up.

Sales lagged as Lululemon lost sight of their "fashion driven" model.

Sales lagged as Lululemon lost sight of their “fashion driven” model.

4. You have no strategic business plan. Entrepreneurs get distracted by personal or rewarding side projects, instead of the mundane day-to-day. Your employees see this and lose focus as well.

5. You are frequently absent. Human nature hasn’t changed for thousands of years. When the boss is away, the mice will play. You are more interested in your trip to France, building a new house, or just losing daily discipline. Your tardiness or absenteeism is taking a toll on momentum.

6. You isolate yourself. You have started to believe your own self-importance. You surround yourself with gatekeepers who thrill in protecting you from information. You hide your email address and cell number, like state secrets. Your ear is “no longer on the ground” and have created your own reality. You stop communicating and are now the Emperor With No Clothes.

7. You tolerate bad behavior. You want everyone to like you so you never set any standards for office discipline. You allow lateness, texting in meetings, inappropriate behavior and outright fighting. Does Dov Charney at American Apparel come to mind?  You fill the office with perks like beer on Fridays, games and free food; but hesitate to set a tone that everyone’s time is money and the business is why everyone is here, in the first place.

8. You micro-manage. You feel your input and decision-making are critical in every area. You never heard one of your own ideas you didn’t love. This takes accountability from the players, slows down the business and demoralizes everyone. Are you deciding on the brand of coffee for the kitchen?

9. You lose the pulse of the market. When you started you were front and center with customers and on top of the competition. You now live in your bubble and rely on second-hand input from subordinates.

10. You build a team with no diversity. You took the easy out and hired friends from your alma mater. In fact, you thought only guys from your alma mater were worth hiring; or perhaps you hired all young hipsters, MBAs or like-minded WASPS. Congratulations, you have created a one-dimensional organization lacking creativity and divergent ideas.

11. You protect the high-performing sociopath in the office. This cancer in the company is allowed to wreak havoc on the organization, because they have big talent in some area. Their wide-reaching influence demoralizes everyone and has a serious impact on sales.

12. You have no succession plan. In fact, you have surrounded yourself with weak players. You prefer to have control and if you get hit by a bus the company’s going down the tube.

Great leadership takes continued humility, the willingness to listen, change and make hard decisions. Innovative new products come from strong motivated teams. Success of the company starts from the leadership at the top.

Dix&Pond is the blog of Dix & Pond Consulting Creative and strategic consulting for retail, wholesale apparel, footwear, consumer products and analysts. Follow me to get the latest posts

Reality Check for Abercrombie

Abercrombie and Fitch has negotiated a new contact with long-time CEO Michael Jefferies after an activist investor had called for his replacement. After years of lagging return on investment the controversial CEO has lived to see another day.

Hollister men's and women's

Hollister men’s and women’s

Jefferies is among a small cadre of visionary retail executives and a known micro-manager. He remade a tiny travel and sporting goods retailer in the ’80’s into a teen retail powerhouse. It has been a rocky road laced with discrimination lawsuits and boycotts over policies and racy marketing.

When a customer choses to shop a specialty store they already relate to the brand on some level. Most customers visiting an Abercrombie & Fitch, Hollister or Gilly Hicks store aren’t discovering the store for the first time. They already identify with the upscale, American, traditional style, with a big dose of teenage sexual tension.

The appeal of the brand experience is the “maybe I’m too young to be here” rich decor, dim lighting, loud music and strong fragrance wafting through the air. It is retail theater at its best, even if it is a tad annoying for the credit card-carrying accomplice. I actually love to visit Gilly Hicks. (Too bad they are closing them down to focus on their core business.)

Things have changed in teen retail since the boom times post-Recession. The last few years have seen the explosion of fast fashion emporiums of Forever 21, H&M and Zara.

Abercrombie Holiday 2013

Abercrombie Holiday 2013

Forever 21 operates very large stores that carry complete looks… apparel, accessories and shoes merchandised throughout the store. A budget conscious Millennial can walk out with an armload of cheap chic clothing and accessories for $50. They serve up a huge range of fashion and uber-edgy looks in less than stellar quality, but most of their customers don’t care. They sell them in women’s, Love 21 sizes which area a bit bigger and plus sizes as well. No girl leaves Forever 21 without finding something that fits.

Abercrombie is stuck in the flip phone era of teen fashion. It is not the appeal of their clubby stores. It was their original calculation not to promote during the height of the Recession and their unwillingness to face the reality that today kids are bigger, than their cultural vision of a preppy, blonde waif. The narrow-minded intention to cut everything close to the bone has cost them significant sales. What store today can afford to lose a motivated customer segment over 1-2”?

 I can personally attest to this. My 13-year-old niece (who proclaims Gilly Hicks her favorite store) has been slightly bigger than the Gilly Hicks size large since she was 11 1/2. She relates to their clean, lounge lifestyle and sporty looks. Unfortunately, 90% of what she tries on doesn’t fit because they don’t carry an extra-large. She can only buy their most oversized pieces. We usually walk out empty-handed, in spite of Gilly Hicks great promotional prices.

We don’t bother to shop Abercrombie, even though we both like the traditional aesthetic and quality of their merchandise. We know the styles are cut too small and she’ll end up discouraged. In fact, Abercrombie’s key competitive advantage over Forever 21 is their more traditional looks. There are plenty of girls in America that relate to A+F’s classics with a modern twist, over fast fashion; and there aren’t any other national retail brands for kids that offer modern, traditional looks. (Except American Eagle and Gap, which are quite different overall.)

Therefore, we end up at Forever 21. As an industry veteran I hate the quality, but we can always find something acceptable and reasonably tasteful in their giant assortment. My niece always leaves Forever 21 feeling good about herself.

If Jefferies wants to make his bonus performance targets in his last act (He’s 69) He is going to have to see the teen market as it is today. It’s not 2007.

Dix&Pond is the blog of Dix & Pond Consulting Creative and strategic consulting for retail, wholesale apparel,  footwear, consumer products and branding agencies. Follow me to get the latest posts

 

 

 

 

 

Lessons From Exceptional Entrepreneurs

See 20 simple lessons in leadership and entrepreneurship from 3 great entrepreneurs. These exceptional leaders reached the pinnacle of success in fashion and home furnishings!

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