Hollister Case Study
Sex Appeal, Surf Culture and Seduction: Exploring the Hollister Experience
Hollister Co. (HCO), which is part of the Abercrombie & Fitch group, has established itself as the quintessential American clothing brand, associated with surfing culture and beautiful teenagers. The brand offers laid back, Southern California (SoCal) surfer style clothing in the teen retail sector, and currently achieves international sales in excess of $1.5 billion annually. Since 2008 the parent company has progressively pushed the brand globally, and there has been rapid expansion, particularly in the UK (Ward, 2008). (www.hollisterco.com)
Hollister is a great example of the power of experiential branding and sensory marketing, and it is also offers many insights into retail staging. Building on the early insights of Holbrook and Hirschman on experiential consumption (1981; 1982), branding increasingly relies on symbolic associations and lifestyle impressions (see, for example, Holt, 2004; Sherry, 1998; Gobe, 2010). Above all, brands now strive to build satisfying experiences that mirror human relationships (Fournier, 1998; Miller, 2006). This involves creating excitement, connectedness and community (Sheane, 2012), and giving brands energy, visibility and meaning to their target market (Aaker, 1996). In the context of Hollister, an additional focus is on group membership, peer group acceptance and sexual attractiveness, all of which are identified as key issues for young consumers (Harwood, 1999).
Much has been written about servicescapes and their importance for creating memorable consumer experiences. There has also been a recognition of the value of ‘themed flagship brand stores’ (Kozinets et al 2002), which provide a memorable and engaging brand encounter, and which use tangible and intangible elements to create stimulating brand experiences (see, for example, Mehrabian and Russell, 1974; Bitner, 1992; Kozinets, Sherry,...