Behind Abercrombie & Fitch’s rising influencer technique

Abercrombie & Fitch is tapping into influencers to construct standing with younger buyers because it continues on a serious turnaround.

Again in 2016, the retailer was named America’s “most hated retail model” by the American Buyer Satisfaction Index. Over the previous few years, nonetheless, Abercrombie & Fitch has labored to reintroduce itself by positioning the model as extra inclusive and extra numerous in time periods of its sizing, merchandise and promoting campaigns. Since 2017, Abercrombie & Fitch has employed a brand new CEO, centered on fashionable types and silhouettes and relied extra on information evaluation and options like BOPIS. Consumers are responding properly; final quarter, Abercrombie reported “decade-high” first-quarter web gross sales and elevated its outlook for the remainder of 2024.

A big a part of Abercrombie’s revamped technique includes its advertising and social media presence. Abercrombie spent $20 million extra in advertising, normal and administrative (MG&A) bills from the 13 weeks ending April 30, 2022 to the 13 weeks ending April 29, 2023, monetary outcomes present. Immediately, the retailer has constructed up a big community of creators to indicate off new merchandise, present model suggestions and tips and clarify their curiosity within the model. Creators run the gamut from dancing to gaming to sports activities, and Abercrombie will even characteristic its retail retailer associates or company staff on its social channels.

“It’s actually about making certain that anybody can really feel like this model might be part of their life and their way of life,” Megan Brophy, vp of brand name advertising at Abercrombie & Fitch, stated on Wednesday throughout a chat at The Lead Innovation Summit in New York Metropolis. “On the finish of the day, we’re all people, all of us have affect and all of us eat. So it’s actually about creating some content material that resonates.”

What ought to that content material appear like? Gen Z buyers (and influencers) are drawn to authenticity, Brophy stated. “They’re very clear, they need realness,” she defined. “They need a little bit little bit of messiness, and so they don’t need issues to be good.” Millennials, whereas having a few of these traits, have a little bit of an extended consideration span, she defined. “They like a little bit extra narrative and a little bit extra story, a little bit extra aspiration.”

When forming relationships with influencers of any age, Brophy confused that it’s essential to “flip the model over to the neighborhood, making certain that they really feel represented.” She shared that Abercrombie’s typical buyer at present is 25 to 29 years previous — somebody who’s financially unbiased however nonetheless understanding the course of their lives.

“Once we search for creators, we’re on the lookout for people who find themselves in that stage,” she stated. “It feels… genuine that they need to put on Abercrombie, that they need to be part of it,” she stated.

Whereas Abercrombie will meet with influencers to clarify a bit extra concerning the model, “the management actually stops there,” Brophy stated. “We give them speaking factors for some product… [but] they know tips on how to discuss to their viewers. They created these followings themselves, they know the way it’s going to resonate, so it’s actually about giving them the instruments.”

Extra attire firms are handing the reins to creators. True Faith, as an example, has a True Creators program by which it selects a number of up-and-coming designers to place their very own spin on the model. It additionally hires younger photographers and different expertise in U.S. cities to shoot campaigns and solid movies. Revolve created a Model Ambassador Program in 2021 that got here to incorporate 30,000 members (and a ready record of 10,000 candidates), whereas Aerie is investing extra in user-generated content material and live-shopping streams with visitor stars.

Abercrombie has a strong social media presence (5 million followers on Instagram, 477,000 followers on Twitter and 71,000 followers on Tik Tok) and understands that its creators and prospects are on the lookout for numerous issues on numerous platforms — particularly with regards to Abercrombie Children and Hollister, which cater to youthful audiences. Hollister, for instance, has a extra sturdy Snapchat presence, whereas Abercrombie is kind of widespread on Tik Tok and Instagram. Proper now, the corporate is experimenting with Threads, Meta’s problem to Twitter. 

“Platforms evolve, the macroeconomic setting evolves and there’s rather a lot that goes into why one thing is altering, so we’re all the time trying into that,” Brophy stated. “What all of us did 4 years in the past, it’s not what we’re doing at present. And it’s not going to be what we’re doing years from now.”

“All of us couldn’t have predicted Tik Tok had the influence that it had,” she continued. “All of us don’t know what Threads goes to do… So we’re all the time on the lookout for what’s subsequent from a platform standpoint.”

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