Abercrombie & Fitch: Is It Unethical To Be Exclusive?
(4 pages of text)
The CEO of clothing manufacturer and retailer Abercrombie and Fitch defends his decision that the company will not offer plus sizes for women, although extra large sizes are available for men, because average- to large-sized female consumers do not fit the company’s target market. This insistence on a standard of female beauty as young, svelte and tall has enraged consumers who have criticized the company, and the CEO in particular, in both the traditional and social media for exacerbating problems of body image and gender stereotypes, especially among teens. Increasing sizes, however, presents not only logistical and manufacturing challenges but may lead to charges that the company is encouraging obesity and unhealthy lifestyles as happened when a competitor, H&M, introduced large-size models and mannequins in its stores. Abercrombie and Fitch’s popularity with its target teen market depends on its promulgation of exclusivity, which in turn depends on its vision of what is “cool.” Yet, in the face of mounting criticism and declining sales, does sticking to the segmentation strategy make sense?
- To stimulate discussion of possible ethical conflicts resulting from targeting and market segmentation decisions.
- To discuss the impact of social media on company strategy, particularly for controversial issues.
United States, Large, 2013
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