L.L.Bean Tries to Go Younger
When Julia Winder, a 20-year-old college sophomore from
Princeton, N.J., spoke with The Boston Globe, she said exactly what
L.L.Bean wanted to hear.
“It’s really cool they’re aiming at a younger generation.
This is more of a preppy East Coast style rather than just an outdoorsy Maine
look,’ she said. “It’s perfect for summers on Nantucket.’
The “this” Ms.
Winder was referring to was L.L.Bean’s new Signature line of clothing aimed
at young adults. The chain will need to get many more similar reactions from
college kids and others if it is to take on the likes of J. Crew, Ralph Lauren’s
Rugby and others competing for this market.
As the Globe article points
out, L.L.Bean is moving into completely new territory with the line. The chain’s
combination of classic yet casual styling and a commitment to customer service
that is second-to-none has made it a favorite among Baby Boomers. The last
time the company launched a new collection, a line of clothing designed for
career women, it fell flat.
“It seems like every time retailers stray from
who they are — getting younger or getting more fashionable — it’s failed,’
Mike Tesler, president and founder of Retail Concepts and a member of the RetailWire BrainTrust,
told the Globe.
“The opportunity for L.L.Bean lies in being authentic. If they’re going at
this from the ground up, instead of thinking that they know everything, that’s
a good approach.’
L.L.Bean took the approach that it didn’t know everything
going in and recruited college kids to help it determine what would work. Students
who participated even created a code name “Bean in the wiL.L.d’ for the project.
really exciting to have college kids reaching out to us wanting to help,’
Chris Vickers, vice president of L.L.Bean Signature, told the Globe.
“We think it says a lot about L.L.Bean as a company.’
a new website (www.llbeansignature.com) to feature the Signature line. The
site includes new tools such as Key Looks, which allows consumers to see outfits
styled by creative director Alex Carleton. Visitors can see complete outfits
and purchase them “in just a few clicks,” according to the company. Mr.
Carleton’s career includes stops at Polo Ralph Lauren and Abercrombie & Fitch
before he joined L.L.Bean.
“Our catalog, website and social media campaign will help us engage the consumers
and offer them a closer look into our company’s long-standing heritage. As
we launch L.L.Bean Signature, it will be through compelling marketing programs
such as this that we define the new collection and create a new consumer following,” said
Mr. Vickers in a press release.
Discussion Questions: Is L.L.Bean on the right track
trying to expand its consumer base with the Signature line? Assuming it has the
style component right, what will it take for Bean to make the new line a hit
with young adults?
[Editor’s Note] From L.L.Bean’s press release: “The Spring/Summer
2010 line for men will include lightweight, tailored navy linen blazers, buffalo
plaid and madras shirting, nubby shawl-neck sweaters, a new version of the
all-American field coat and a waxed cotton style of the famous Maine Hunting
Shoe. The women’s collection will feature a modern interpretation of the belted
camp jacket, chambray and colorful madras shirtdresses, classic wrap skirts
and new chino and denim styles. Carleton has also updated L.L.Bean classics
such as the Boat and Tote Bag.”
- With student help, L.L. Bean tries younger look – The Boston Globe
- L.L.Bean Signature to Launch with Spring 2010 Catalog and E-Commerce Site