Thursdays are by far the best day to shop for clothes. Most experts recommend that you head out in the evening from 6pm - 9pm in order to get the weekend prices before the crop gets over picked and your left with tank-tops.
This Thursday, however, I'm interested in a new piece of juicy gossip that was delivered to my house yesterday: what Facebook told Anthro about you and how that influenced their January catalogue.
Now if there's one thing I need to do it's pay credit where credit is due, Anthro is probably one of the only stores that all five women in my family (who have different shapes, styles and color preferences) can walk into and out of with an armful of finds. There are many reasons for their success but if I can boil down to one thing it's this: they are experts at the art identity and experience, something Facebook recognized a long time ago.
Just look at this page of their January catalogue:
There is something strikingly familiar about these photographs. For one it is a couple, a curious choice since Anthro's clothing line is exclusively female. There is no text - no advertisements in fact it looks more like a friend's Facebook album than a page in a catalogue.
And there's the rub - what Anthro learned from Facebook is that you do not care as much about the clothes you wear as what you do or who holds you in them.
How did Facebook know this? Well, we told them. From our profile pictures to the images we un-tag Facebook knows that you are a masters at selecting pictures that convey the life that we want to portray/show that we experience.
So, rather than market specific items to you, Facebook told Anthro to market an experience, a relationship, a couple at the beach.
This woman is carefree, she is loved and she looks amazing. She is in the arms of an attractive male. Her clothes are young and have a sophisticated elegance conveyed by the combination of the traditional cable-knit sweater and the flowing silk blouse in complementary tones.
And what surprises me the most is that the clothes that are being advertised are quite hard to find - the editor of the magazine made a deliberate decision: he or she wanted you to experience this day - walk with them on the beach watch a moving picture as it were of their happy life together. The outfit was intentional but not the focus - the focus the main point was the experience.
Smart retailers have always concerned themselves with your experience - that's why you have personal shoppers, that's why you are able to touch, feel, sit, try on. And what we see Anthro doing here is just a more obvious targeting of our how we portray ourselves and what our clothes say about the identity we let other's see.
So how can our psyche compete with retail companies who understand our desires so deeply? How can we arm ourselves against feelings of worthlessness or insecurity when we cannot afford to purchase an item that we feel shows our identity or the one we wished we portrayed? What's more, how can we keep ourselves from buying clothing that we do not need or cannot afford when we feel the pressure to re-invent ourselves based on the images we wish we portrayed?
The first step is realizing that we are being worked over. As cute as these models are - they are here to get you to believe a story, a story in which you live happily ever after in Anthro's clothes on a beach in the middle of January. And Anthro is not here to make your life better they are here to get you to buy their clothing. If I'm perfectly honest - Anthro doesn't care about who you are or what you look like, they just care about getting you to imagine your life in the story they're telling.
So the next time you walk into J.Crew, or type AnnTaylor into your browser, I want you to pretend your walking into a horror film - and everything and everyone in the store is telling you to go down into the dark warehouse. Now you can certainly get out of there alive - you're smart! But realizing the circumstances you're walking into is crucial to getting out of there in one piece!
What do you do to prevent warehouse slaughter in retail environments?