Most everyone has heard that the U.S. has a weight problem. But, it’s more than just a health care problem, it’s also a big issue for retailers. Cult Marketing just wrapped up a customer study for Tweens Brands (Justice and Limited too stores, girls 7-14) and this issue popped up to the forefront of the strategic discussions.
Let’s recap the latest statistics on the U.S. weight trends. According to a new Johns Hopkins Bloomberg study released in July, 2007, in just 8 years (2015), 75% of adults and 24% of kids will be overweight – with a significant number of those being obese. Women 20-34 are the fastest growing members of the overweight club.
How does this impact retailers? As we know, many retailers, clothing designers and the fashion industry in general has eschewed the beefy customer. The fact is clothes look a hell of a lot better on skinny celebrities or models than they do on the average overweight customer. Many retailers like Abercrombie & Fitch and Victoria’s Secret limit their sizing because they do not want to ruin their brand image. They only want good-looking thin people wearing their stuff. But, where is the “Tipping-the-scale-point?”
Maybe these “thin” retailers have it right. Maybe we need to hold the ideal figure up there as a target to shoot for. Why give up the fight? A&F shows teens and twenty-somethings who are healthy and active. What’s wrong with that? It is aspirational. It certainly is part of a brand strategy.
Or maybe it’s not smart retailing, and they are missing out on a ton of sales while not being socially responsible and sensitive. Brands like Oprah and Chicos have made a bunch of money being inclusive and supportive. Kellogg’s, McDonald’s and others are changing their entire strategies due to the obesity pressures.
So, what are your brand values as it relates to the weight issues? Interesting topic to debate within your retail world.