Abercrombie & Fitch’s Brand & Store Positioning

Joseph H. Hancock
Revised by: Nancy J. Rabolt , Judy K. Miler

Business Case
Source: Bloomsbury Fashion Business Cases
DOI: 10.5040/9781474208796.0041
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Abercrombie & Fitch (A&F), originally a traditional outdoor and adventure apparel retailer, has repositioned itself in the marketplace several times throughout its history. In the 1990s A&F changed its offerings to fashionable basic merchandise in a lifestyle and aspirational way geared toward teenagers. Methods used in their stores were strong atmospherics including cologne, loud music, provocative pictures of models, and shirtless male greeters in some stores. This created a company image and niche in the marketplace differentiating it from other fashion retailers. A&F’s positioning in the marketplace was clear. However, social groups had called for a national boycott of the apparel retailer due to the highly sexualized nature of its stores and eroticism in advertising to young people. With lawsuits, changing mores, and lowered profitability because of competition and online shopping, A&F’s positioning and image underwent a change in the mid-2000s with a more clothed, wholesome image. Students will learn about the use of atmospherics in A&F stores up until the mid-2000s, and will explore the ramifications of a retailer changing its image alongside ethical concerns surrounding use of sexualized promotional strategies in retailing.

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