Abercrombie & Finch: Racial and Religious Discrimination
Abercrombie and Finch have long branded themselves as being the cool, fashionable brand for young American teens. Brand image not only used to identify the product but is also the critical perception and associations the consumers have (Faircloth et al., 2001). Michael Jeffries as CEO, in an interview, defined the brand to be for young, thin, and beautiful people. To further this brand image, its clothing line did not include plus sizes for females. Not only was the brand particular about the looks of its customers, but the same was also applied to the employees creating issues and lawsuits of discrimination in its hiring and promotion policies (Kaplan, 2015).
Human Resource Management Strategies
The discrimination lawsuit about hiring, along with the “look policy” for employees was disastrous for the brand image of Abercrombie and Finch. This created a threat for the corporate reputation as its stakeholders, its customers took the internet to voice their disgust and anger over the brand’s marketing approach (Martin et al., 2012). Amid the crisis and increased concerns failure of the CEO and PR team to address the angry rant, and make a public corporate statement was delayed. Damage control by public relations may have prevented the drop in sales and loss of brand reputation and loyalty (Grunig, 2009). In 2014, Jeffries resigned and the Fran Horowitz became the CEO.
Fran Horowitz began with improvements in the company’s vision. This required changes in the retail store concept and improvement in the shopping experience both online and in-store. It had to rebrand to become a more inclusive brand both in body image and target market. Importantly they wanted to build customer loyalty. Since these changes began in 2018, the loyalty plan has more than 30 million members. The stock value has also increased by 26% since its fall in 2017 (Wu, 2019).
Faircloth, J. B., Capella, L. M., & Alford, B. L. (2001). The Effect of Brand Attitude and Brand Image on Brand Equity. Journal of Marketing Theory and Practice, 9(3), 61–75. https://doi.org/10.1080/10696679.2001.11501897
Grunig, J. (2009). Paradigms of Public Relations in an Age of Digitalization. PRism Online PR Journal, 6.
Kaplan, S. (2015, June 2). The rise and fall of Abercrombie’s ‘look policy.’ Washington Post. https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/morning-mix/wp/2015/06/02/the-rise-and-fall-of-abercrombies-look-policy/
Martin, M. G., CBE, P. S. C. L. C., & Burke, P. R. J. (2012). Corporate Reputation: Managing Opportunities and Threats. Gower Publishing, Ltd.
Wu, J. (2019, October 16). Here’s how Abercrombie & Fitch ditched its past to try to bring back customers. CNBC. https://www.cnbc.com/2019/10/16/how-abercrombie-fitch-ditched-its-past-to-try-to-bring-shoppers-back.html