How Space Performs a Gender Role in Marketing

Analysis of how Space Performs a Gender Role in Marketing

The interior of Abercrombie & Fitch on Savile Row






The interior of Abercrombie & Fitch on Savile Row


What role does space play in an organization’s business strategy? This question has deeper underlying responses based on the type of organization in question and the manner in which it has organized its business strategies. While space is a basis element of art and design, it can assume different roles in business processes, especially with regard to communicating certain messages to clients on behalf of the company (Dill, & Zambrana, 2009, P. 44). In particular, interior design is the manifestation of how an organization can use the space available within its business premises to advance its agenda. Interior space is very instrumental in an organization’s marketing plan.

One organization that has been very effective in using its interiors to promote its marketing strategy is Abercrombie & Fitch. The fashion multinational retailer opened its first shop on Savile Row in 2007 and has achieved massive success since opening its doors to the public. The global clothing retailer has been renowned for its sexualized marketing where it uses half-naked male models and skinny female models to market its products (Reichert, Heckler, & Jackson, 2001, P. 17). While the company has endured criticism for this kind of marketing strategy, its continued profitability attests to the fact that sex sales regardless of the uproar raised from its social controversies. However, the main focus for scholars is on understanding how space as an element of art plays an essential role in the organization’s marketing activities.

The aspect of space is very critical to the success of Abercrombie & Fitch’s marketing efforts. This paper analyses the aspect of space as used in the company to communicate its objectives to the customers. The analysis is based on the theory that space can perform a gender role in an organization by creating a particular sense of feeling and promoting display of a certain type of behaviour that aligns customers to the desired sexual messages of an organization (Spurgin, 2006, P. 392). Companies use a host of different strategies to attract customers. Abercrombie & Fitch on Savile Row is notable for using gender and sex as key aspects of their marketing and communication with customers. As such, space is very essential in creating a particular look and feel within the organizations interior design in a manner that communicates to the customers and invites them to purchase the company’s products.

According to Shewmaker (2015), sexual marketing is a very successful marketing strategy for the companies that use it. The method is mostly used by organizations in the cosmetics, beauty, and fashion industry. Sexual marketing broadly entail all marketing campaigns that communicate with customers by appealing to their sexual emotions. While the topic of sex has been a conservative matter for a long time, it is getting into the mainstream in the contemporary world through advertisements on billboards, television, and other forms of media (Wolf, 2015, P. 38). Therefore, it is not any strange that Abercrombie & Fitch relies heavily on heavily on sex within its interior design to appeal to customers. Therefore, space can have a gender dimension, which it uses to communicate sexual messages that appeal to target customers.

Essentially, space can be used to communicate a wide range of messages in line with an organization’s marketing strategy. Upon its entry in the London clothing industry on Savile Row, Abercrombie & Fitch was quick enough to have its impact on the ground. The company hired d=models that were in line with its marketing strategy to promote their products, beside that fact that this was an untraditional marketing strategy on Savile Row. Furthermore, the company moved to pain t its building brown before getting the necessary approvals according to the guidelines of the street. These examples indicate the company’s unorthodox way of conducting its business, which was not very popular in London.

One main aspect of the company’s marketing besides the models, is its interior design. The company renovated the Georgian mansion, where it is housed, filling its interior spaces with huge images of half-naked men. An illustration of the interior space of Abercrombie & Fitch on Savile Row is as shown in the image below. The interior of the building is characteristically dark as there is little room allowed for lighting. In addition, there are A&F fragrance that is usually sprayed in the building as well as accompanying electronic music to entice customers (Halley, 2006, P. 132). The fragrance, music, and the massive hanging images of semi-nude men in the building all help to make a perfect environment for the company’s marketing strategy. The customers are immediately exposed to the sexuality of the company’s marketing strategy right as they enter the building (Torlak, 2011, P. 548). The employees of the company, usually referred to as models, are also selectively recruited to ensure that only the most beautiful and handsome models are employed into the company’s workforce.



How the gender aspect of space communicates the company’s objectives

Effective use of interiors spaces in a company’s premises can help it to communicate its objectives to the public. Abercrombie & Fitch, for instance, has been very vocal about its business strategy for a long time. The company only manufactures products targeting a certain class of customers, which it considers to be cool and beautiful. As such, its main objective is to target the attractive individuals in the community. Therefore, Abercrombie & Fitch does not have any products targeting the plus size women or men who do not have muscles or athletic bodies (Czerniawski, 2015 P. 74).

In order to communicate its objectives to the public, the company uses a gender-based approach enshrined in its interior space. By putting images of semi-nude athletic men on its walls within the shop, the company is able to make a statement that it inly focuses on targeting a particular section of the population.

The role of space in communicating gender messages

Space is also instrumental in furthering gender messages that appeal to the emotions of customers and invite them to buy the company’s products. Abercrombie & Fitch is one of the most profitable company’s on Savile Row. This indicates that most of the customers who go in the shop often end up purchasing the products (Moore, Raymond, Mittelstaedt & Tanner Jr., 2002, P. 47). The organization has created a great ambience for its customers, who are constantly surrounded by images of semi-nude men with sensational background music and attractive fragrance within the building. Besides, the employees of the organization are very pretty and are always positioned strategically within the shop to come in handy to assist customers who seem to be idling in the building. The male models in the shop are also half naked while the anorexic formal models accompany them in engaging with customers.

The site of the interior of Abercrombie & Fitch looks more like a night club rather than a clothing and fashion retailer. The sexual nature of the shop’s interior design helps to appeal to customers in various ways. For instance, customers who are attracted to the models and the posters hanging around the walls will want to dress like them, hence, be easily connived to buy similar products within the shop (Hitt, Ireland, & Hoskisson, 2008, P. 88).

This marketing strategy has given the interior space in the shop a gender perspective. With most of the images hanging on the wall comprising of male models, the company may seem to be more inclined towards the male gender. However, the fact that the images are masculine has worked in favour of the company as it is able to appeal to both men and women. For instance, the company is able to appeal to women who like fit and athletic men. Conversely, the company also manages to attract male customers who would like to be like the models on the posters.

Space as a tool for targeting younger customers

Abercrombie & Fitch claims within its marketing strategies that it targets customer with the age group of 18-22. However, this may be untrue as the company only seems to be targeting teenagers. Teenagers are the ones mostly fascinated with issues of sex and sexuality (Lea-Greenwood, 2013, P. 47). Furthermore, most of the teens are still struggling to find an identity for themselves and are willing to try out many different things in order find whatever suits them the best. These, coupled with their inexperience in shopping makes the youths more interested in entering Abercrombie & Fitch in search of the clothes and accessories they can relate with.

Design Intervention

The discussion above shows how space can be understood from a gender perspective and plays a significant role in promoting different organizational objectives. However, this design proposal focuses only on the aspect of understanding other ways in which space can be used to achieve marketing objectives for a company beyond the gender or sexual lenses. Space is a very critical aspect of the interior design of an organization. Different organizations also use their spaces in different ways on order to meet their objectives.

While Abercrombie & Fitch has been at the forefront of using its space for promoting sexual content and passing across gender-sensitive messages, there is evidence in research indicating that interior space can be used to communicate with customers using other constructive strategies. For example, an understanding of colour psychology can go a long way in appealing to the emotions and the psychology of customers and entice them into buying an organization’s products. For example, by using a combination of highly emotional colours, a company can be able to beautify its interior spaces while also ensuring that it maintains a perfect touch with its customers. Colour can also create a powerful ambience that can attract many customers to the shop as well as determining their duration of stay, hence their expenditure.

In relation to the discussion above, this design intervention is aimed at eliminating the perception that sexual marketing is the most effective way of utilizing interior space in a shop or an organization’s premises. There are many other ways of achieving similar objectives without necessarily having to give space a gender or sexual perspective. If an organization pays a closer attention to studying colour psychology, it can be as successful in attracting more customers as sexual marketing. In addition, using alternative strategies such as colour psychology does not raise controversies that are likely to affect the image of an organization.









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