Building on the success of her Loft division, Krill is making over Ann Taylor with smaller stores and cheaper clothes. She talks with Carol Hymowitz about shopping during the downturn.
When consumers hear the word “Loft,” what do you want them to think of?
Fun, engaging, girlfriends, happiness. We did a lot of research with the Ann (ANN) consumer and Loft consumer because a lot of shopping behaviors are psychographic. So the Loft customer dresses how she wants to feel, whereas the Ann customer goes through her agenda and thinks, “What do I need to look like for what I’m going to do today?” She wants to be appropriately dressed for what she does, and the Loft girl wants to feel good.
When people hear “Ann Taylor,” what do you want them to think of?
I think appropriateness is important. Every woman feels like if they buy something at Ann Taylor they will look stylish and appropriate.
How has the economic slowdown changed shopping?
Value and versatility have become very important. She needs an incentive to shop. Value was always part of Loft’s DNA. Loft was built on what we call surprising prices—that it’s great quality at surprising prices. About 70 percent to 80 percent of the assortment is under $50.
At Ann Taylor, we have started focusing on opening at good price points rather than better and best. That strategy is working very well. I think in uncertain economic times, value becomes more important.
So when you say new price points at Ann, what do you mean?
[continued at Business Week]