Abercrombie & Fitch’s latest campaign reflects a marked departure from the raunchy images that made the teen brand famous in the 2000s. As that risqué imagery fails to boost weak sales, the retailer is seeking to connect with millennials in a new way.
Teen shoppers “don’t respond to traditional notions of beauty or even sexuality,” Ruth Bernstein, founder of image-making agency YARD, told Business Insider. “They respond to real social change and self direction. There is a reason that the Aerie campaigns that are not retouched are doing well. They are making a statement, changing an industry, and are still aspirational.”
L2’s Digital IQ Index: Specialty Retail suggests the brand needs more than inspired teens to revamp sales — perhaps a digital face-lift. The study places Abercrombie in the Average category, with a digital presence that is “functional yet predictable.” This is particularly evident on YouTube, where Abercrombie’s limited activity and SEO/SEM efforts render the retailer virtually invisible on the platform. As a result, it places 27th in a tie with Brooks Brothers, Hollister, and Lands’ End.
Millennials are particularly receptive to video: One in two will read an email from a company if it includes a video, and 76% follow a brand on YouTube. An updated YouTube strategy could do wonders for Abercrombie, with or without shirtless models.