Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Redeeming Abercrombie and Fitch

Lafley, Martin, Rivkin and Siggelkow explore the process of strategy development with an emphasis on the alignment of ‘empirical rigor and creative thinking’. They have emphasized the development of ‘novel strategies backed by scientific reasoning’ [3]; furthermore, the article also speaks of the success of re-branding and carefully crafting a strategy for P&G, which yielded them effective results and increased their profits. This step-by-step process discussed in the article, is tailored towards the company’s core competencies and mission.
Like P&G, Abercrombie and Fitch is one such firm, which has been facing sales decline since February of this year [1]. Abercrombie and Fitch’s brand continues to flail with their elimination of XL and XXL – sized clothes and their push to orient to the rich popular kids at school. It is the inappropriate brand description that speaks of their origin as ‘rooted in East Coast traditions and Ivy League heritage’, which has pushed its sales to a massive decline [2]. The company is in need of a do-over and the procedural re-branding strategy process argued in the article will possibility prove to be very beneficial to A&F’s reputation.

The firm needs to identify what they need to do next and test possible solutions[3] to overcome the obstacle of re-forming their brand image. They should ask themselves, ‘what they need to do next, to do away with their existing snooty image and help gain popularity amongst kids?’ As a second step, A&F should draw strategic possibilities[3] that deliver the intended message. The focus should be re-oriented to promote an image that depicts ‘celebration of friendships’ [2]. Third, A&F should reason their assumptions and possibilities in order to detail the conditions for its success[3]. Specifying the details to each approach, will help recognize that the company needs to broaden its customer base and include public schools and plus size shoppers in their target market. At this point, A&F should strive to identify any barriers to its plan of action[3] to analyze the feasibility of each approach in the industry. They can further move ahead and test their strategies[3] in a pilot program, which fosters a more generic brand image that highlights sophisticated clothing amongst school kids. With a more defined and reasoned range of well tested strategies, A&F will re-affirm their strategy to launch a nation wide marketing campaign that will help them redeem its struggling brand image. Finally, the company should conduct a review on its choices[3] to analyze key conditions deducted from the research/pilot program.

I believe that this strategy development process is powerful and reasonable in devising effective campaigns, specific to a firm’s corporate structure. Lafley, Martin,Rivkin and Siggelkow have successfully designed a methodology which allows for reviewing & reasoning while simultaneously conducting creativity and feasibility analysis, to build novel strategies that foster a spirit of general inquiry backed by scientific logic.

33. Bringing Science to the Art of Strategy, Lafley, Martine, Rivkin & Siggelkow, Harvard Business Review

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