Hollister Keeps Shoppers in the Dark

Discussion
Nov 03, 2011

Who knew that there was an opportunity to make money by saving money (on electricity)? Abercrombie & Fitch’s subsidiary, Hollister, is keeping British shoppers in the dark by turning lights so low that customers can’t see sizes, prices, the cash register or even “the point,” according to The Daily Telegraph following a visit to a branch in Birmingham.

Like its American branches, Hollister offers “casual separates influenced by the lifestyle of the Californian coast” to a teenaged audience.

Self-styled Queen of Shops, Mary Portas, raved about a newly opened branch in London back in 2009, the paper says in a separate article. Describing “pulsing music and a gentle aroma that lingers in the doorway” as the key draws, Ms. Portas decided a long line waiting to enter a mere hour after opening demonstrated “that something special had caught the shoppers’ imagination.”

While noting Abercrombie’s “signature mood lighting,” she somehow manages to decide the clothes are “brilliantly merchandised” and admires the surfing spirit of the sales area. Selling sex and feeling sexy, with “a playful sign” suggesting that clothing in the changing area is optional, are apparently fine for a young audience while the emotional reward of this “world class retailing” experience is worth the cost of whatever is purchased.

Somewhat less enthusiastic were Facebook discussions found through Google. Also dating back a bit, one, titled, “Hollister stores, your dim lighting doesn’t make me buy anything from you,” had 198 likes while “Why are the lights dark in Hollister, is it so I can’t see the price?” attracted 5,929.

The Telegraph was unable to get a comment from Hollister’s spokesperson, but claims an employee explained, “It creates an atmosphere that allows you to come in and hang out while finding some cool clothes. It gives a type of casino-feel, where people can get lost in a club-like environment, people relax, and hopefully spend more.” This may not be the case for youngsters needing parental funding as two mothers quoted were less than enthusiastic about the ambiance. Perhaps people spend more if (or because) they don’t know how much they’re paying until they see the light.

Hollister’s sister chain, Abercrombie & Fitch, has also earned a reputation for keeping its lights inordinately low.

Discussion Questions: What are the pros and cons of low lighting techniques used by teen chains like Hollister? Can other teen and apparel stores benefit from creating a similar ambiance?

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8 Comments on "Hollister Keeps Shoppers in the Dark"


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Bill Emerson
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Bill Emerson
9 years 11 months ago

Perhaps the dim lighting appeals to teens and fashionistas like Mary Portas. The reality remains, however, that Mom still figures prominently in the buy decision and I think Mom will not be attracted to the dungeon-like lighting.

A&F has always endeavored to be different, for good or bad. Maybe it will work, although I, for one, will be very surprised if it does.

Max Goldberg
Guest
9 years 11 months ago

Abercrombie has demonstrated time and time again that it knows how to shoot itself in the foot, both financially and in pursuit of being cool. If enough consumers are frustrated by the lack of proper lighting, and make their discontent known by choosing to buy clothes elsewhere, perhaps Abercrombie will get the message.

Justin Time
Guest
9 years 11 months ago

After all, it’s the shopping experience. But dimming the lighting so low might also suggest that a shopper may not want to be recognized while shopping Hollister.

Steve Montgomery
Guest
9 years 11 months ago

This is taking “mood” lighting to a whole new low level. When it’s so dark that the customers can’t read the prices, you have crossed the line between mood and dim witted. I can just imagine the reaction (especially of those footing the purchases) if the young target customers followed the sign’s advice and started changing their clothes on the floor.

David Slavick
Guest
David Slavick
9 years 11 months ago

Here’s a little secret and forget about Facebook “likes” as a measure of effectiveness. It’s dark because its cool. It’s dark because the wearer of the clothes is comfortable there. It’s dark because moms aren’t comfortable there and so they hand over the cash and let the buyer shop while she goes to an alternate store where the atmosphere is to their liking. Loud music, hip/cool atmosphere, live shots from Huntington Beach is all part of the brand personna. It’s smart — don’t change a thing.

Ted Hurlbut
Guest
Ted Hurlbut
9 years 11 months ago

The cynic would say that the merchandise wouldn’t look nearly as appealing if you could see what it really looked like. But I think that this points to the fact that chains like Hollister believe creating an environment of being part of an exclusive group of teens who “get it” is more important than the styling or quality of the merchandise.

Marge Laney
Guest
9 years 11 months ago

The lighting in Hollister and all the other Abercrombie brands is a signature of their brand. Their design team runs the in-store experience which, unfortunately, includes customer service. They don’t employ customer service associates either, just models. In the case of Abercrombie brands, servicing the customer isn’t part of their vision.

Cathy Hotka
Guest
9 years 11 months ago

These kids today! What’s next after turning down the lights? Playing loud music? Hint to adults: kids don’t WANT their stores to look like your stores….

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