Murketing on Newbury Street

In his book, Buying In, Walker talks about the common misconception that “Generation Y” or “The Millenials” is a population that is particularly difficult to sell anything to, as they “see through” marketing. Well, do we?

Take the clothing store, LF, for example. I recently visited the LF on Newbury Street in Boston. The first thing I noticed was the fact that we could barely find the store, even when we were basically looking right at it. Distracted by the DJ blasting music from 344 across the street (a well-known, pricey store filled with popular brands like Free People and Michael Stars) and by the floods of shoppers entering the three story Forever 21 adjacent to it, I barely noticed the small store with the simple LF sign lost in the midst of these huge stores.

Upon entering LF you would literally think you were entering a thrift shop. Clothes are strewn everywhere, upbeat music plays, and the workers pretty much leave you alone to sift through the piles of oversized sweaters, ridiculously high wedges, and leather bags.

Yet, there are a few clues that the “image” projected by the store does not exactly fit the reality at work here.

First? The security guard at the door. Second, one look at a price tag… almost everything, from tissue thin belly shirts to furry vests, are over $150. Third, the store still references its single sale a season (it already passed, by the way).

What’s going on here? Well, we know Walker would argue that Generation Y in fact embraces branding, and uses it as a means of expression. Further, he describes how marketers have now figured this out, and thus are finding new, unconventional, subtle, murky ways to capitalize on this.

Perhaps LF, like many other clothing and fashion stores, has capitalized on the hipster “subculture” that seems to be increasingly visible in our society. LF ditched the flashy, colorful, loud advertising of its neighboring competitors, settling with earth tones and messy clothing piles. LF can sell the edgy, throw-it-together look at the prices of a higher end designer. The LF website includes a link to “their favorite blogs” (which are of equally edgy nature) and claims, its for “girls who dare to be different.” It seems as if LF has successfully navigated the new world of murketing, targeting its consumers in underground ways and carefully walking the line between selling its products and maintaing an unassuming, cool and unique vibe that shies away from the mainstream.

My question to you is are LF’s consumers sell-outs? Or, as Walker would argue, are they just embracing branding in a new, less obvious way?

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