Thursday, February 11, 2010

Hermes, Coach to Open Men's Stores

The Wall Street Journal reports today that luxury good firms Hermes and Coach plan to open stores catering specifically to men. The strategy has a number of appealing features. Certainly, they appear to have evidence that many men do not enjoy having to shop for themselves in a store predominantly catering to females. Perhaps more importantly, data clearly show that more men are shopping for themselves when it comes to apparel, as opposed to our parents' generation, when wives often did a great deal of the apparel shopping for their husbands.

What challenge will the stores face? The last line in the article struck me as perhaps the most important one: "Still, there is one kind of customer brands are careful not to alienate in the men's stores: 'women who want to buy gifts for a guy,' Coach's Mr. Tucci says." Herein lies the critical issue facing these luxury retailers. How does one create a store atmosphere and shopping experience that caters to men without alienating the female shopper there to purchase for her husband, son, etc.? These luxury retailers will have to strike a delicate balance: make the atmosphere highly appealing to men, and clearly distinct from their other stores that cater mostly to females, while not alienating women.


Luke Bornheimer said...

Perhaps by providing a small selection of men's apparel in the female-focused flagship stores, Coach, et al. will provide a convenience that will not require mothers and wives to shop IN the men's stores.

Though not providing their female guests the ultimate selection for purchases for their male counterpart, the retailers will offer a superior experience in which the guest will feel more comfortable, as a result, spending more.

Could this approach work or is an example of the flagship, female-oriented stores trying to be 'all things to all people'?

Michael Roberto said...

I think we will see different firms take varied approaches. I think pure models are easiest to execute without falling into the trap of being all things to all people, but perhaps someone will do what you have suggested well.