Abercrombie and Fitch doesn’t carry jeans with a waist size larger than 36 inches. But the Centers for Disease Control reports that the median American male has a 40 inch waist. Why does A&F give up on so many potential customers? The reason is obvious: They want the cool kids to buy their stuff. As a result, A&F discriminates against me and tens of millions of other Americans.
That’s part of building a successful brand: Choosing your customers wisely. A&F use size choices to choose their customer base; and as Bryan has noted, elite malls
can use high prices to select for the right kinds of cars in the parking lot.
But today I saw a particularly creative method of customer selection: A policy of driving the cool kids out. SweetFrog
, a successful chain of Christian self-serve frozen yogurt shops, openly advertises their uncoolness: The cartoon frogs, the good cheer, the overt displays of religiosity. What self-respecting hipster is going to show up there? Let’s all go to the “metro-focused
And I suspect that’s one of the keys to SweetFrog’s success. Frozen yogurt is a product that teens and college students often purchase, but if a store has a lot of those customers in the 13-22 age bracket, you can predict with some accuracy what kind of language will be floating around the store on a Saturday night. Not exactly a child-friendly environment.
So a frozen yogurt shop has two choices: Get the 13-22 crowd or get the family crowd. SweetFrog went for the latter. Maybe that’s just a market segmentation equilibrium (I buy my uncool jeans at LL Bean; I wish no harm upon A&F), or maybe SweetFrog believes that when the kid wants dessert the whole family comes along. Either way, their model seems to be doing well
Bonus: By driving the cool kids out, SweetFrog likely has less of a problem with workers giving product away to their friends. I had a friend in high school who got a job working at a frozen yogurt shop precisely because he was unpopular: The owner was tired of losing inventory every time the cool kids came by.
Explain why, with unemployment over 9 percent, there has emerged the phenomenon of self-service frozen yogurt shops.