By  on September 13, 2005

DALLAS — A|X Armani Exchange, the 94-unit licensed retailer that offers Giorgio Armani at lower prices, is trying to reach new customers with a marketing strategy that taps into the core of their lifestyle: music, culture and fashion.

The company is seeking to affirm the brand's focus on the young, urban and hip by sponsoring events at the grassroots level such as music festivals and fashion shows in college towns like Austin, Tex., and a club music festival in Miami.

Harlan Bratcher, president of New York-based A|X Armani Exchange, described the strategy as "acupuncture marketing," which translates into pinpointing the passions and interests of the brand's 18- to 24-year-old target demographic, which includes professionals and trend-minded students.

It's a market that relates to the lower price points and to the style sensibility of the line, which for fall is all about dark colors and tailored, fitted silhouettes in luxury fabrics. Retail prices are $40 for a top to $295 for a leather jacket. Denim is an integral part of the fall collection and retails from $88 to $128. Women generate at least 45 percent of total company business. Giorgio Armani personally approves every item in the collection and has major creative control of every aspect of the company.

A|X Armani Exchange is using the acupuncture strategy in a bid to stay ahead of the competition for the lucrative youth market, including Marciano, Guess, Benetton, Club Monaco, Sisley, Diesel, Baby Phat and JLo.

"It just makes sense to have a focused market outreach that allows us to advertise and target shoppers regionally such as in northern and southern California and different cities in Texas and Florida," Bratcher said in an interview. "We have been very successful in growing our businesses in each city where we have stores by partnering with events or doing in-club events to promote our brand, which inspires business back at the stores. We focus on events and venues that fit the A|X Armani Exchange sensibility."

In March, the company was a sponsor of the Ultra Music Festival in Miami, which includes dance and club music events. Dance and club music is such an integral part of the brand's marketing that the company hires top DJs to spin the latest tunes at its stores during peak shopping times to boost sales and for its in-house produced dance CD compilations that are sold throughout the chain as well as at other music retailers.

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