Abercrombie Package Design
Domain: Product Design, Illustration
Team Size:  01
Organization:  University of Washington
Previous Image
Next Image
The Brand

Abercrombie, founded in 1892, is an American retailer focusing on casual wear for people aged 18-22. It has in the last few years gained huge market with youth owing to its attractive and bright colored products. It started expanding itself internationally shipping products to France, London and many other countries.

It's main competitors' include Aeropostale and American Eagle who also have dedicated merchandise for similar age group and prove less expensive than Abercrombie. Abercrombie has been much debated because of its strong masculinity and macho-advertisements on posters, products packaging, etc. Although, it has survived and regained it's market in recent years, it has been able to do so only in the US. Since last year, it has started spreading out internationally opening its branches in different countries to compete in the global market.

The Project

This was a individual final class project for the International User Experience and Communication class I took in Autumn '12. In this class we read about how products when catering to diverse audiences globally, also have to mould appropriate cultural ethics to be accepted by people across the globe. The project statement was to choose a product of one country and design it for another country. Keeping in mind the cultural differences and ethnic backgrounds, how would you design to allow acceptance by people without hampering their cultural beliefs. I chose Abercrombie as my product and chose to redesign some of their packaging and products for the middle east countries like UAE, which has a highly contrast culture compared to US.

Team Size

One



My Role

Product Design, Package Design, Graphic Design



Tools Used

Graphic Design: Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Illustrator

Design Idea

The project was inspired from my frequent visits to the A&F stores at Seattle, Washington. While visiting each time, I found that the products made very bold statements with semi nude to nude models portrayed on its product covers. And when I took the International User Experience and Communication class, I felt that being raised in a very collectivist society, I could use my experiences and cultural knowledge in re-branding A&F to fit to such cultures. And this how I chose to design the brand for a very high PDI country, UAE and visualized how this brand could adopt to their cultural artifacts and cater to their needs. And thus the journey started!

Literature Study

I read several case studies, followed few blogs and used Hofsted's reference materials, understanding different dimensions and how they affect the social and cultural values of people. Among all the case studies, I found the P&G case study very interesting on how they revolutionzed use of diapers in China. CBS News has an excellent cover on the study ( here ). Case studies were then followed by studying the culture in UAE, their perception of color, artifacts that signify their cultural heritage while combining them with hofsted dimensions.

This course was a great learning opportunity for me. Reading on several papers focused on failures and successes of many projects trying to their global presence and understanding the significance of cultural awareness and practices in developing these products. It's amazing to know that small bits of cultural differences could lead to a massive disaster of a product, owing to a lack of two way communication.

An eye opener for me was reading the case study of P&G and how it brought a diaper revolution to China, despite its first massive failure. It was an interesting read with several take-aways to learn how to design products for global audience.

I chose Abercrombie as my project theme as it's products are very bold and include semi-nude to nude young models posing for its posters, online marketing and product packaging. It mostly uses strongly built male and curvaceous female models for its merchandise and other product advertisements, often bringing it to the fore-front of massive revolt and resistance from public. Knowing such scenarios and trying to visualize the product in UAE would be adventurous and also a great opportunity to redesign the products that would fit to the UAE market. I looked into every detail of the product and compared it with regards to the UAE and US culture in terms of color significance, cultural thinking and perception of different artifacts. I also looked upon various other products that were being sold in UAE and tried to understand their thought process during the product design.

I used Hofstede's dimensions* to arrive at certain conclusions of my package and product redesign.

US is a highly individualistic country with lower masculinity and lower power distance index*. People, specially youth, are attracted to advertisements of Abercrombie, thereby drawing a large number of young buyers for its products and merchandise.

On the other hand, if we think of shipping the same product to UAE, a country with very high power distance index, high masculinity and highly collectivist* country, the products would be a total failure as their packaging and products both would disregard the cultural respect and belief of the people of UAE.

In such circumstances, I redesigned some of its products keeping in mind the principles and theories learned in class about building products for global audience. I came forward with an innovative design thinking that was much appreciated by my colleagues and the course Professor, giving me the much awaited 'A' grade in the course.

* Hofstede's Dimensions