Does A&F Actively Discourage People Above 40 To Buy It’s Products? – Strategy With RS

Did you know that Abercrombie & Fitch (A&F) does not encourage people above 40 years to shop in their store? At least, that is what I felt when I recently visited an A&F store in San Francisco.

Of course, no board was placed outside the store, barring me from entering the store – this would invite a lawsuit. So what strategy did they deploy to evoke this feeling in me?

I was strolling down in San Francisco shopping district when an A&F store caught my attention. The store window had male mannequins attired in A&F t-shirts. Mirror Neuron kicked inside me & I visualized my son wearing figure hugging t-shirts – he would obviously look smart in them!

With these thoughts consuming me, I walked into the store, inspired to buy a couple of A&F T-Shirts for him.

I was welcomed in the store by loud music belonging to heavy metal & veering towards death metal, I think. Both genres were way too loud for my liking.

I braved the music & purposely walked towards the shelves stocked with t-shirts. As I started exploring for t-shirts, I discovered I was having difficulty ‘seeing’ them. And then it dawned on me that the lights in the store were ‘dim’! I braved even the dim light & shortlisted a few t-shirts. I now looked at the price tag to know the price – but I could not read the price – the price was written in ‘small’ font size.

I looked around for somebody to assist me in reading the price tag. No one seemed to come to my rescue. I physically carried the merchandise to counter sales person stationed at the cash counter to seek her help. Of course, she promptly told me the price. I had to make at least a couple of trips to her before I could finalize the merchandise that I had to buy for my son.

By now, the styling of the merchandise, its rich & vibrant color, spectacular cuts, gorgeous look & feel had wetted my appetite to motivate me to buy t-shirts for myself, too!

To ensure that the fit is good I always try out the apparels prior to purchase – this derisk’s the buying decision!

I shortlisted a few t-shirts and took my selection to the trial room. Lord beholds – I was shocked what the mirror was showing me.

The Muscle ‘fit’ t-shirt, which I had selected, are designed for young people so that they can flaunt their V-shaped body comprising of 6 pack abs & bulging biceps!

In my case, these Muscle t-shirts seemed to highlight my negatives – slight paunch & poor state of my abs & non-existent biceps! To put it mildly, I was embarrassed in front of my own eyes. Good sense prevailed upon me & dropped the plan for outfitting myself with A&F merchandise – I feared social ridicule.

Business Lessons: A&F has used ‘sensory’ marketing techniques – loud sound, dim light, small font size & styling of its merchandise, to ensure that young people wear A&F & discourage people – of my profile from wearing & flaunting it!




In this series, Rajesh Srivastava, Business Strategist and Visiting Faculty at IIM Indore gives you a regular dose of strategy case studies to help you think and keep you one step ahead as a professional as compared to your peers. Rajesh is an alumnus of IIM Bangalore and IIT Kanpur and has over 2 decades of experience in the FMCG industry. All previous Strategy with RS posts can be found here