Urban Outfitters was founded and established in 1970 and is a company offering a mix of distinct merchandise incorporating music, contemporary art, and fashion (Heidi 150). They owe their success to their growing ability to be in a position to understand their customers as well as relate with them emotionally. The company has a reputation of selling kitschy, hip, and ironic merchandise with each particular brand choosing particular client segments (Kurtz, et al. 58 ).
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As compared to other retailers, Urban Outfitters’ marketing almost always begins and ends with the shopping experience itself, with little or no advertising being emphasized (Heidi 152). The company has been a consistent winner with tight marketing as well as storefronts that make it different from other retailers.
The word counterculture can be defined as a culture of young people with lifestyles or values in opposition to those of an already established culture (Kurtz, et al. 64). Looking at Urban Outfitters, they began with the shopping experience, location, and a sense of fashion to sell to potential customers who were perceived to be somewhat counterculture and not looking for conformity (Heidi 153). These potential customers not only desired a distinct shopping experience but also to come away with an incomprehensible product.
Studies have shown that Walmart or Sears cannot effectively create a trendy counterculture image. This has been attributed to the fact that these stores operate on a high volume-low profit margin and therefore the only way they can do so is to mass-produce (Heidi 155). Creating a trendy counterculture is all about being different and unique, going against the traditional trends of society. Thus, for Sears or Wal-mart to try entering into a niche market or try creating a trendy counterculture image would be next to impossible because it would spell financial doom for the companies (Kurtz, et al. 65). They cannot compete with a retailer such as Urban Outfitters since they are big retailers.
The proper definition of a big box store would be a physically huge retail establishment, also referred to as a supercenter or a megastore, which is usually part of a chain of stores or departments (Kurtz, et al. 69). It can also refer to that company operating the store for instance Wal-mart.
In the beginning, Urban Outfitters located its stores near colleges and universities thus reinforcing the brand image (Heidi 156). Currently, the company has stores all over the United States as well as globally. As compared to Urban Outfitters, big box stores sell similar merchandise within their differently established and located stores around the world (Heidi 157). Therefore, they cannot be in a position to sell merchandise identical to Urban Outfitters since no two stores of the company are similar. Despite having strict concepts, Urban Outfitters’ stores are extremely different and are meant to be authentic to appeal to the targeted customers as well as location (Kurtz, et al. 73). This is mainly the reason why big box stores cannot be able to sell merchandise that is identical to that of Urban Outfitters.
In the marketing field, the value of the product being advertised or sold is related to the experience of being able to have access to that particular product (Kurtz, et al. 74). Urban Outfitters is a company offering and selling unusually distinct products thus offering a unique shopping experience to those individuals who cannot afford expensive products (Kurtz, et al. 75). The company has in the recent past provided each of its stores with only small quantities of any available product. This has, in turn, created a scarcity of the product and in the end, also created high demand for the scarce products (Heidi 159). By so doing, the products move quickly and the shopping experience is kept fresh at all times.
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There are several reasons why exclusivity is valuable to a company as well as to its customers. Exclusivity is valuable to the majority of companies and stores in that, to begin with, it guarantees a market. In the case of Urban Outfitters, it can be assured of an instant and long-lasting market amongst its customers because it offers distinct and unique products (Kurtz, et al. 79). A second reason as to why exclusivity is valuable is because it enables a company to distinguish its products and services from each other (Heidi 158).
Urban Outfitters caters to those customers who perceive themselves as being on the cutting edge. Therefore, the company produces a wide variety of products but only in relatively small quantities in a way that no one store has more than a few of the available products (Kurtz, et al. 82). In this way, companies are in a position to differentiate their products and services from each other. The third reason as to why exclusivity is valuable is because it puts the company on competitive advantage as is with the case of Urban Outfitters who are at a competitive advantage over Wal-mart and Sears (Heidi 160). Since the company produces relatively scarce products whose quality is high and durable, customers are inclined to remain loyal to these particular brands and introduce others to them through word of mouth (Kurtz, et al. 83). This is the same reason why Urban Outfitters does not rely much on advertising its products.
Mr. Glen Senk, who is the CEO of Urban Outfitters, suggests that shopping is largely entertainment. This statement is true in that recent studies carried out have revealed that approximately 80% of women as opposed to 20% of men enjoy shopping (Kurtz, et al. 86). Psychologists have also suggested that shopping is perceived as a great stress buster for women who refer to shopping as retail therapy (Heidi 161). Women gain a lot psychologically as a result of shopping.
Another reason as to why shopping is largely entertainment is because people meet and exchange ideas as to which product is the best apart from catching up on the latest happenings in their day to day lives (Kurtz, et al. 87). Women are generally known for being social as compared to men and the shopping experience allows them to compare notes as it were with their fellow women. For them, it is an undeniable entertainment value in and of itself (Heidi 162).
The main objective of Urban Outfitters is to create a shopping experience that is distinct from others while offering a product assortment compelling enough to persuade potential customers to connect to a particular brand and purchase it. In the end, the company’s success depends on the creation of a shopping experience that is unique to each location as well as having a strong sense of fashion.
Heidi, B. Urban Cowboy. Academic Search Premier. Forbes 174, No. 9. 2004. pp. 150 – 162.
Kurtz, David L., MacKenzie, H. F., and Snow, K. Contemporary Marketing. 2nd Edition. Learning. 2009.