Last week, I went to London to take an executive education course in customer focused marketing at London Business School. After we've had a series of very inspirational sessions, the program director Professor Nader Tavassoli sent our group on a shopping journey around London in order to analyze the so called brand touch points of different shops.
As Tavassoli explained, brand touch points are essentially the ways in which we discover, experience and eventually buy products or services of a certain brand. Brand touch points are usually experienced during the following three phases:
Rational: this is the consideration phase during which we decide that we need, new clothes, for example. Emotional: this is the phase during which we pre-select those clothes shops we will be going to based on deep emotional associations that we have about our brands of choice.
Experiential: this is how we consume products and services. And this phase was the one we were analyzing during our London shopping trip.
One of our destinations was the European flagship store of Abercrombie & Fitch, a popular US fashion label.
Even before arriving to the Abercrombie store in London, my work group spotted what at first seemed like a large group of teenagers moving in the direction of the shop. They looked like they were on an organized school trip, or at least so they appeared, all dressed in Abercrombie sweatshirts. It later occurred to me that it was exactly this Abercrombie relaxed sporty look that made them look similar, but in fact these were all separate groups of teenagers.
Finally, we reached the store and were greeted by a young man sporting his muscular shirtless body. He was gladly accepting customers' requests for a photo. Anyone could pose next to him and have a Polaroid photo taken, which was carefully put in an Abercrombie envelope to dry. I've got one of those, too. Certainly a very tangible brand touch point.
The whole shop looks like a night club. It's dark inside, the music is loud, young and gorgeous shop assistants are dancing. As a matter of fact, clothes displayed on dimly lit shelves appear secondary to the whole experience of simply being in the shop. Youth, beauty, party atmosphere, great music were certainly more important reasons for being in the shop. But in any case, the lines to fitting rooms were quite long, on a Wednesday afternoon.
I guess now I know what's so special about the brand which seems to be a must in my young daughter's local school in Brussels. A couple of weeks before doing the marketing course at LBS, I'd gone to a kids' party at her school, and noticed the name Abercrombie proudly displayed on paper figures made by the school children. No other brand names were spotted. Luckily, my daughter is only 3, and is not yet asking me to get the school "uniform" -- Abercrombie clothes.
Abercrombie is the brand that gets the power of brand touch points. I certainly had fun doing my homework at its London flagship store!