Assessing the Urban Outfitters brand

Each week in association with retail and marketing consultancy Pragma, MarketingWeek.co.uk looks at a high-profile UK brand, assessing its performance against a range of criteria and offering suggestions to improve its overall score. Marks for each section are given out of five stars.

Brand***

Distinctly American in origin, Urban Outfitters launched its first UK store in 1998, with unusual clothing brands and quirky homewares in an innovative cutting edge store environment. The retailer has established a strong following amongst its target audience of hip young urbanites seeking a refreshingly different product and shopping experience. A restrained growth policy with the company operating just 6 stores across the UK has helped to maintain a unique appeal. An online shop was launched in July 2006.

Experience****

The unconventional and the eccentric are cleverly fused together at Urban Outfitters. The store design maintains the characteristics of the original architecture with exposed bricks and mortar, enhanced with liberal use of bold colours and creative props that draw the eye around the store. However, progressive refurbishments from competing retailers are diminishing Urban Outfitters’ distinctive position. Cross-merchandising of clothes and gifts on mezzanine levels adds to the quirky offer.

Product****

Urban Outfitters stocks a wide range of clothing brands for both men and women, including a strong own brand offer. From the classic heritage of Wrangler, to the modern urban of G Star and progressive designers like Paul & Joe Sister, they cover more angles than most retailers all under one roof. Product is displayed according to brand, but with little use of logos. The subtle demarcation can make things tricky to find, although the large number of SKUs increases the likelihood of obtaining the right colour and size.

Value Positioning**

The considerable variety of stock gives Urban Outfitters a wide range of prices. Whilst not in a position to compete with throw away fashion, t-shirts can be found for £18 and a pair of jeans for £40. This does however differ from label to label.

Recommendations

More cross-brand outfit building would help to inspire customers.

Ensure frequent stock changes to retain customer loyalty.

Use the website to merchandise a small selection of products and create an exclusive appeal.

Overall Rating****

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