Abercrombie & Fitch was named America’s most hated retailer earlier this year when it received the lowest ranking score for the retail industry on the American Customer Satisfaction Index. Since then, the retailer has made dramatic changes, and it’s introducing a new look to fire back at the critics and win back customers. Today the company unveiled an entirely redesigned website and a new marketing campaign to emphasize how committed it is to change.
The promotional holiday video starts off with the simple message, “People have a lot to say about us. They think they’ve got us figured out.” The retailer then explains that it is time for a “fresh start” for the brand and introduces the new campaign, “This is Abercrombie and Fitch.”
“This Holiday campaign is the brand’s opportunity to show the world it is a new day at Abercrombie & Fitch,” Fran Horowitz, the company’s president and chief merchandising officer, tells Yahoo Style. “The campaign not only showcases the brand’s new and evolved collections, but also shows the brand as approachable, inclusive, and fun. The teaser part of the campaign hopefully addresses some of the previous controversy the company has faced; that said, this is a new start for this true American heritage brand.”
The company is attempting to reach the modern consumer by celebrating individuality and eradicating the exclusive and judgmental undertones that the retailer is usually marked with. The holiday campaign is noticeably less “sexy” and “scandalous” than campaigns released in the past. “The design teams have put a lot of effort in fit, quality, and finish,” Horowitz says. “The assortment has more breadth, and we would urge customers to check out our denim, outerwear, and shirting offerings, specifically.” In a sense, the brand is going back to the basics but still attempting to produce creative pieces to keep consumers interested.
The brand has wiped both its Instagram and Twitter pages clean to emphasize how committed it is to the rebrand.
A&F is no stranger to controversy, as it has faced intense backlash and disdain from critics and customers for the past couple years. The brand has struggled in rebranding itself since the ousting of CEO Mike Jeffries in 2014. Jeffries left a lasting impact on the company in its designs and reputation, considering he was known for wanting the brand to be only for the “cool kids.” Since then, the retailer has released new ad campaigns and styles to promote a different message and gravitate away from Jeffries’ vision.
Glancing at the retailer’s website or walking through one of its stores could prove to be an unfamiliar experience for some shoppers, as the walls are no longer lined with an overwhelming number of tight T-shirts, adorned with obnoxious slogans, and minuscule denim shorts. Conservative and classier styles have replaced them.
However, despite the retailer’s best efforts, the design changes haven’t positively affected sales by any means. Abercrombie & Fitch’s reported second-quarter fiscal 2016 revealed that total comparable sales decreased by 4 percent. That was the 14th straight quarter the retailer’s sales have dropped. The “This is Abercrombie and Fitch” campaign comes at an important time for the retailer, as performance during the holiday season will affect its overall success. Horowitz says the retailer also plans to launch a new store concept in 2017 to celebrate the brand’s 125th anniversary.