Abercrombie & Fitch Company practices a unique way of reaching out to its target audience. The powerful stylish advertising campaign has a divine impact on the consumer (Cacoogi). A&F negatively affects the consumer from its elite perspective, which a customer gets at first sight. Despite the fact that most of the product prices seem to be inflated, the excitement created by the environment at their stores influences the consumer’s decision. The company is able to manipulate the likes and dislikes of the different audiences it has for its various products by creating negative environment that eventually attracts the target market (Bonarchy). This paper discusses the ethical and social responsibility of Abercrombie & Fitch, a clothing store Company in the USA, looking into its good, bad and ugly practices.

Company Information

Abercrombie & Fitch Co. is specialized in direct consumer operations and retailers stores, which sell sports wears, outerwear, personal care products, men and women accessories. The company operates under brands such as Abercrombie & Fitch, Abercrombie kids, Gilly Hicks and the Hollister brands. The company has continuously been able to make profits, especially over these rough economic times since 2000 and during the global economy shakeup (Bonarchy). Abercrombie & Fitch has been able to increase up to 55% of its transactions for the year and with the new super secret Concept 5, that is to be launched soon, the company has been able to create a lot of publicity all over the world. The company has maintained high standards of income, keeping its reputation to investors and customers positive (Cacoogi). 

The good, the bad and the ugly of Abercrombie & Fitch Co.

Most of the stores have experienced high distribution, marketing and general administrative expenses up to 30% as operating margins downed to 90bps. Expenses for opening new branches in places like London went too high causing major delays in the general expansion plans. Most of its brands continue to struggle in the market as customers likes have shifted, especially in jeans, where new fashions are the skinny pipe jeans and not what they are mostly producing - the wide bottom jeans (Succo). Abercrombie & Fitch has had more than often issues of its cloth lines having racism ideologies, besides the claims that the company is only populating its retail stores with white sales men only, despite its consistent denial of engaging in discriminating acts. The company targets young people, even below teenage years, by advertising using sexually suggestive slogans. Abercrombie & Fitch is known for its tendency to force workers to work for long hours with insufficient compensation (Christopher).

How do the company’s practices affect their bottom line?

The company uses some ideas of negative marketing, for example, when the stores are sprayed with very attractive scents or the ear blasts loud music, that definitely drive away elder people leaving only the young people who like the selection of music. There are also strategic lighting systems in the stores, where certain clothing is spot lit while the rest f the store is dimly lighted, hence it is only the youth who can adopt to such lighting. It is a fact that A&F have inflated their prices and most of their merchandise are plain with fewer labels, however, they simply tend to portray a certain lifestyle in their stores so as to make it appealing in a unique way. This makes customers want to be a part of the excitement brought about by the negative impact of their way of doing things (Banarchy).        

Abercrombie & Fitch use nudity and sexuality in their advertisements, supposedly in order to associate clothing and nudity thus forcing consumers to associate some brands of clothing with certain desires. So far it is the only company ever that has tried to associate sexuality and physical beauty in marketing. The company has intentionally ignored its moral and social responsibility and instead has made consumers to choose products basing on their sexual desires. This mode of marketing is referred to as classical conditioning, which involves ethical practices in various circumstances. Abercrombie & Fitch use classical conditioning to make customers relate their uncontrollable sexual desires to very basic commodities such as simple clothing (Cacoogi).

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Impact on customers

Abercrombie & Fitch has many stores in America. The company has lost its reputation, especially among adults, due to producing sexually suggestive clothing to the youth. As much as Abercrombie & Fitch rolls on the fact that sex sales, the company is still a popular choice of the youth, despite many parents who avoid the stores for the simple reason that they want their teenagers to lead a moral life (Christopher). The trend imposes false feelings on customers making them to believe that they can be comparable to the models posing on the photographs. This is by far creating a lifestyle that does not exist via photography. The illusions make customer to believe that they can attain such lifestyles if they possess similar clothing. The company has practiced deceiving marketing strategies, which have dissolved into many people minds and now most people are relating their clothing styles to beauty, physical perfect body and eroticism. As much as classical conditioning is based on ethics, confusing customers and luring them into imaginary lifestyles is fully unethical. This is placing their aim at the weakest point of the society - just to sell very basic and simple product (Cacoogi). 

Employee Turnover

Abercrombie & Fitch’s reputation, especially on how they handle workers, has been compromised for so long. Many times the company has been forced to pay compensations to factory workers who sued the company for over working under unfavorable conditions, and others who were fired from their jobs or given jobs for the reason of keeping them from public view since they are not good looking. This is not ethical, as much as the company will like to maintain a good image by having good looking staff. This does not make anything better when discriminating against whom they call bad looking or making them work at the back (Christopher).   

Ethical and Social Responsibility

It is due to lack of business ethics that Abercrombie & Fitch could make decisions and go forth producing thong underwear for children. Their catalogues and clothing encourage bad behavior of youths and create a wrong image of women. Ethics vary from person to person. In the current society ethics and social responsibility are always an issue when it comes to product advertisement in the media. Abercrombie & Fitch, however, do not consider this viable and instead they have started to use the negative way to reach out to the public. Using photographic catalogues with almost nude people and various clothing designs, leaves many people stunned as well as causes a desire to acquire the imposed in the catalogues lifestyle (Eckhardt, et al, 66).

Abercrombie & Fitch has incorporated a unique way of reaching out to its customers, especially the specific targeted audience which is the youth. The company uses enticing photographic catalogues which have a psychological influence on the customers; this has created a virtual feeling that they can attain a similar lifestyle as they see in the magazines. Despite having a bad influence on the public, which is considered unethical by its competitors, Abercrombie & Fitch has been able to survive the harsh economic times and still make profits. This is solely for the reason that it has invested in an addictive marketing style that utilizes the irresistible sexual weakness in people. The company has a very high employee turnover ratio, despite its tendency to force workers to overwork and also despite discrimination against the workers who are not physically attractive. For a company to earn a good public reputation, ethics should be enhanced in all terms: the kind of products that are produced, the way of advertising that is practiced and even the way the workers are treated. All of these have been violated in Abercrombie & Fitch, however they can still successfully operate on negative marketing and gain popularity.

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