Thursday, November 12, 2009

Anthropologie Visuality

Anthropologie understands its customer’s lifestyle and its stores provide a journey of self-discovery. Duncan (2005, p. 289) defines Lifestyle marketing as an association strategy, which uses situations and symbols of lifestyles that are relevant to the target audience. Relevant because it is their present lifestyle or one they aspire to. Aspiration might explain why upscale MSL surprised the skeptics.

Anthropologie is extremely effective at using visual wit to communicate with its customers. In our readings, Pink (1998, p. 3) talks with Gerald Zaltman who observes that “Cognitive scientists have learned that human beings think in images, not in words.” The visual artistry of Anthropologie has propelled them to unprecedented growth. Labarre (2002, p. 2) reports that sales have grown 40% annually.

Anthropologie Technique
Labarre (p. 1) likens visiting Anthropologie to her “open-ended sense of discovery” in France as a teen. She catalogues some of the Anthropologie technique. Foremost in my mind is that the store has a mission to be a journey, not only for customers, but for all the employees as well. Keith Johnson, a buyer, spends 50-75% of his time journeying around the world (p. 5). The entire staff (p. 6) is admonished to travel, shop, soak in culture.

In his book, Zaltman (2008, p. 98) describes the powerful Journey metaphor and notes it is rooted in our biological need for growth, progress and maturation. Labarre (p. 4) relates how Anthropologie wants to help its customers grow, similar to MSL. She quotes them:

"We wanted to create an experience that would set up the possibility of change…”

This is a powerful mission.

Other practices:

  • Be customer experts (p. 2). Women, 30-45, educated, in committed relationship….
  • An earthier sensibility (p. 3). Texture is important.
  • Imperfection, eclecticism, and quirkiness (p. 4). The nature of Journeys.
  • Merchandizing to set a mood, not highlight a product (p. 4).
  • Storytelling (p. 3). Their voice is friendly and worldly with good stories to tell.

Similar Stores
Pier 1 and Wegman’s come to mind. Pier 1 was the Anthropologie of its day, when I was in my thirties. Labarre (p. 4) discusses the creation of vignettes and stalls that reminds me of Wegman’s. Wegman’s is designed to look like a NYC street of bygone days, with each department looking like a street vendor you might find then.

Duncan says (p. 289) that lifestyle selling is especially effective in highly competitive categories. WVU School of Journalism (2009, p. 2) says that products are not the purpose of a business executing a lifestyle strategy. Products are the vehicles for delivering a message that resonates with the community that relates to your business.

Duncan, T. (2005). Principles of Advertising & IMC. McGraw-Hill.Irwin.

Labarre, P. (Decmeber 2002). Sophisticated Selling. Fast Company. Retrieved on November 1, 2009 from WVU IMC 625 Week 2 Readings.

Pink, D. (April 1998). Metaphor Marketing. Fast Compnay. Retrieved on November 1, 2009 from WVU IMC 625 Week 2 Readings.

Isaac Reed School of Journalism, West Virginia University (2009). IMC 625 Lesson 2: Your Client: Intro to a Shelter Title Launch for Time, Inc. Mission, Voice, Lifestyle Message, Target Audience, Strategy. Retrieved from WVU IMC 625 Lesson 2 on November 1, 2009.

Zaltman, G and L Zaltman (2008). Marketing Metaphoria. Harvard Business Press.

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