Abercrombie & Fitch

Following is a section from a recent story on forbes.com.

“Retailer Abercrombie & Fitch, once the leader of the teen clothing clique on the wings of its preppy logo’ed clothing as well as the club-like atmosphere of its stores (dim lighting, music thumping, chiseled models standing at the door), has started to remove the very elements that once made the brand so desirable: in recent months it has opened display windows, turned the lights on and the music down. But on the heels of yet another quarter of disappointing sales, Abercrombie is vowing to cut down on one more of its once-signature strategies: logo’ed clothes.”

The key phrase for someone in our business is that A&F is turning the “music down!”  The retailer that most consumers easily associate with loud music [not to mention obtrusive scent] is turning the music down.  That’s really big news!

A&F was founded in 1892 and operates hundreds of retail locations, so we think they’ll be okay.  But what can be learned from their recent change in strategy [up the lights and down the music]?

Lesson 1

What matters to a business today, what mattered in 1892 and what will matter a hundred years from now is one thing, and only one thing – delivering exceptional value to a customer.  It sounds simple, because it is.  However, actually doing it is not so easy.  Some businesses have had great recent success (Apple), and others have had little (Sears).  A&F seems to believe its customers had perceived value in loud music, dim lights and chiseled models, but now that’s changing.

Lesson 2

Because customer preferences change, and because successful businesses adapt well to meet those preferences – it’s vital to be open to and able to implement change itself.  The Internet gives us opportunities that were impossible only 10 or 15 years ago.  Some companies rapidly embraced the Internet (Google) and others were slow (Microsoft) and are now playing from behind.

UMix Media has 100% embraced the Internet from our beginning in 2000.  For us, changing the music – or the volume – anytime, anywhere is done with a few mouse clicks.  We’re not at all disturbed by Abercrombie’s lowering the volume.  We think it’s great!