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Is The Mojo Coming Back?

In early February, we did a blog on Abercrombie & Fitch and its Leader’s Trap (see blog Here). The company refused to lower its prices for fear of damaging its high-end, exclusive image. (See “Audio Tip #134: What are the Objectives of Our Pricing Policy?” on StrategyStreet.com.) The blog predicted that Abercrombie would have to lower its prices anyway.

In late May, we wrote a second blog on Abercrombie & Fitch and its Leader’s Trap (see blog Here). By then, the company had reported a first quarter loss and said that it would have to reduce its prices. We noted in that blog that companies who let their prices stay high for too long take a long time to recapture market share lost in a Leader’s Trap.

The story goes on. In the third quarter of 2009, Abercrombie same-store sales plunged 22%, the eighth consecutive period of sales declines. Profits dropped 39%. The company’s pricing, and some fashion slips, have cost the company dearly. The company has marked down items by 30% to 40%. It is also adding lower-priced clothing and some trendier styles in its stores.

The problem now is the company’s reputation for high prices. By falling into a Leader’s Trap, the company sent some erstwhile loyal customers to competitors such Aeropostale and American Eagle Outfitters. Many of these defecting customers have not come back yet. Some might never come back.

If prices are falling in a marketplace, even high-end, Performance Leader, competitors have to go along, or lose market share. For example, in the tough automobile industry, even BMW and Mercedes have had to offer price and financing incentives to keep sales going. (See “Audio Tip #142: Defensive Pricing Guidelines” on StrategyStreet.com.)

Posted 12/23/09

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