Abercrombie & Fitch caught a lot of flack recently with its new push-up bikini top for girls as young as seven, so much so, it dropped the term "push-up" within a week of its launch. Whether it's a marketing scheme or publicity stunt, will it affect sales?
Abercrombie & Fitch Kids' Ashely triangle bathing suit top was described as a "push-up" top, and the negative reaction was deafening. But if attention-getting moves from other retailers are any indication, shoppers rarely vote with their wallets unless it's to actually buy more. A lot of parents said they wouldn't buy it for their kid, but would they stop shopping at Abercrombie in protest?The retailer is certainly no stranger to controversy. Abercrombie & Fitch regularly features racy advertising with young, scantily-clad models. In 2002, it even marketed thong underwear to the pre-'tween set. Still, Abercrombie & Fitch, along with its Hollister brand, remains among the most popular retail brands for teens and 'tweens with nearly $3.5 billion in sales during its last fiscal year. And according to one survey, it's even the third most popular brands among mom's for kids clothing.
And Abercrombie is hardly alone. Walmart is preparing to sell makeup targeting 'tween girls under the Geo Girl brand this Spring. The eco-friendly line reportedly sports makeup and skin care products complete with anti-aging properties, for girls ages 8 to 12. The idea was so maligned that it's unclear if the product will ever reach stores: the launch was scheduled for March, there's no sign of the brand on Walmart.com and the Geo Girl site itself is inactive and simply says, "coming soon."
In Walmart's case it's difficult to know if the outrage comes from the idea that 8-year-olds should be subjected to anti-aging marketing or if so many despise the idea of young girls wearing makeup. After all, the Geo Girl line was meant to replace one from Mary-Cate and Ashley that Walmart sold without controversy for years.
It seems there's a very thin line between good marketing and bad taste. Abercrombie & Fitch has built its brand walking it, however shakily. Today the bathing suit in question is being described as a "padded triangle top." The company stated on its Facebook page: "We've re-categorized the Ashley swimsuit as padded. We agree with those who say it is best "suited" for girls age 12 and older."
Padded not push-up. Do you want to buy it now?
Take the first steps to building your portfolio.View Course »