Our friend the Gap is dying…..
Is the Gap Dead
Paco Underhill, author of “Why We Buy” and founder and CEO of behavioral research firm Envirosell, New York: “They have to stick with Monday through Friday, which is where America works and plays, and not be distracted by Saturday night. They have to be in the uniform business rather than the costume business. They have to follow their customers. I wouldn’t compete with Abercrombie & Fitch and American Eagle. I would focus on Gen Xers and boomers.”
Joseph Beaulieu, retail analyst at Morningstar, Chicago: “They need to be less low-end at Old Navy. The store is starting to look like a cheap discount store. If you freed the Gap brand from having to avoid competing with Banana Republic at the high end and Old Navy at the low end, that could improve their target focus. They have these three segmented brands and don’t want them to step on each other. It’s more of positioning and merchandise issue.”
Seth Godin, marketing guru and author of “Small Is the New Big and 183 Other Riffs, Rants and Remarkable Business Ideas,” via e-mail: “I don’t think it can be done. The Gap represented a movement. It nationalized something regional at the same time they profited from the death of business dress. Both are over, quirkiness is back, and that’s that.”
Here’s What I Would Do to Save Gap
Gap: Stop trying to shove celebrities down our throats and focus on the basics- jeans, sweats, and khakis. I really don’t care whether or not Helen Mirren (whom I love) shops at the Gap, but I do care about finding a great pair of jeans- which is pretty much the hardest thing for women (and men) to buy. The Gap should bring back the famous jean wall and brand themselves as THE place with jeans to fit EVERY body type. Not everyone wants to spend $150 on a pair of jeans and the Gap could market themselves as the alternative. While they’re at it, they should change their fit model from teenage girls to your average woman. The Gap can’t compete with Forever 21.
Oldnavy: One word Skirtall. If your design team thinks up horrible pieces like that fugly skirtall, then you really are marching towards retail death. It’s like they hate their customers. I think the idea of one stop family shopping is good, and I guess for a while Old Navy was the most profitable part of Gap, Inc, but they did a turn, too and tried to go head to head with Forever 21, H&M, and Target. Bad move. Stick with being one of the only places a mom can get herself, her husband, and her kids jeans at the same time. Oh, Old Navy also needs to keep their stores clean. For the past year, every Old Navy I go into is a complete and utter mess.
Banana Republic: Banana Republic and I go way back. I’m talking back to before they were purchased by the Gap, when they primarily sold khakis and when they had the tees with that guy with the safari hat. I like Banana Republic and the store is a great alternative to higher priced sports wear brands like Michael Kors and Ralph Lauren.
Bring Back Forth & Towne: Forth & Towne was Gaps’s concept store that targeted working women ages 35+. I LOVED the store and it was posed to compete directly with Ann Taylor and The Loft.. In fact, this store had the possibility to blow the socks off of Anne Taylor in terms of price (Huge Sales), fit (up to size 20 IN STORE), and quality (Thick Wool). Yet, Gap canceled the concept (mostly) due to the recession.
Skirtalls aside, what would you do to save the Gap?