Saturday, November 24, 2007

American Eagle Store Analysis

I went to the American Eagle Outfitters store in the Twelve Oaks mall near my house. They market to guys and girls between the ages of 15-24 who want the "preppy" look for a decent price. The store initially attracts you into the store because of the huge glass windows on either side of the entrance modeling new clothing and sales currently going on at AE. Once inside the store, I was welcomed by music playing in the background by popular pop/hip-hop artists like Chris Brown, Fall Out Boy, Kanye West, and many others. Along with the music, there is also two flat screen TV's in the very back of the store show casing the music video of the current song.
The merchandise in the store is displayed in a number of different ways. AE does use the "touch" concept we talked about earlier in class by having a number of T-shirts available on tables for you to look at and feel. This is especially important for AE T-shirts because they are known for having very soft, comfortable T-shirts. They also have all of their jeans on a wall in little cubby holes from smallest to biggest sizes, from top to bottom. They also incorporate racks of long sleeve shirts that are available for you to shift through to find your size. As for guys vs. girls clothing, the store is split right down the middle with guys clothing on the right and girls on the left.
The floors of AE were nothing special to me. The floor was composed of square, tannish hardwood floor that was clean, but contained no particular design on it. The signs in AE were mainly composed of sale details like clearance racks and jean sales. I think this is probably a good idea, not for the customer, but for the store owners because it forces newer consumers to look around for items they want, in which time they may find something else they like as well. There are a few signs with models on them showcasing current fashions but those are mainly behind the cashier's counter. The cashier's area is located on the far right wall on the guy's clothing side. It is a very long counter that takes up half of the wall, but there is one flaw with the large cashier set-up: there is often no real set line. Eventually a line forms behind someone, but other times I have come in and the line is in a different spot. It's really no big deal, but I just think it is a poor design aspect on AE's part.
With all of these aspects, I believe AE is trying to project a hip, preppy style that encourages teenagers to come buy there clothes. The models on many of their signs are young adults in fun, flirtatious pictures that make consumers want to look like that. AE sells many collared shirts and button up collared shirts that are known for the little eagle symbol on the upper left chest of the shirt. This provides a certain attachment to the the clothing line similar to the Ralph Lauren Polo horse that captures the older, more mature consumer base. AE is trying to have this image as well, but for the younger generation.
Once consumer's enter the store, they interact in various ways. You can tell the newer consumer's because they don't touch many things and often do a quick look through and only grab something if they find exactly what they are looking for. However, you can tell who the loyal consumers are (besides the AE clothing they are wearing when they walk into the store) because they spend more time at the racks, shifting through a number of sizes, and take several trips to the fitting room, instead of just one like newer consumers, if they go at all.
Overall, I like the design of AE. I did find interesting, however, that there most popular item, the jeans, were right on the right as you walked in. Our class read how Paco Underhill stated that you should place the more popular items in the back of the store because it forces consumers to go into the depths of your store. I also didn't like how there was no clear division between guys and girls clothing. Ezra talked about it during class and I discoverd it was kind of an issue at AE. I was walking through the center of the store and one second I was looking at guys T-shirts and the next I was looking at a circle display of girls lingerie, not exactly what I was looking for.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Response to Questions

Kate's Question:
In response to Kate's question about whether or not consumers can have control over their shopping habits, I believe that it is different for men and women. I believe that men have more control over their shopping habits, not because "men are superior to women" or anything because that's not true. I think it is related to how men view shopping places. As I go into a store, I have a goal in mind about what I am going in to get. I may see some nice things as I'm going in, but I believe men are more likely to shop for purpose, and not pleasure. Women, on the other hand, like to shop for pleasure. They may go in with the purpose of buying some type of coat, but will end going to six different places to find the perfect coat. Men will live with what they are given at a store and choose what is available. I believe this is probably why women are the better shoppers because they don't mind spending more time looking for a nicer or cheaper coat.
When I think about my shopping habits, I go in with a specific purpose and try not to let too many things distract me. Usually I go into a store, its because I already know what is in the store and I am interested in the types of items it sells. One store in particular, Sharper Image, is known for having expensive, technological items. I like going into this store, not to buy things, but to see what is new. I do, however, believe that stores can influence what I buy because of the set up of items. Grocery stores in particular have mastered this technique I think because when you are about to check out, they have several cheap, commonly used items like gum, magazines, and candy that consumers might need, but forgot while they were in the store.

Ezra's Question:
I think touch is a critical part of are evaluation of a product because its one of the five major senses in which we decide whether or not we like something. I believe touch is one of the more important ones because it deals with what we are comfortable with. Your not going to be a shirt that feels like sandpaper just the same as your not going to eat a piece of bread that feels like a rock. Try to imagine going through an entire day without your sense of touch. Every item deals with touch, even the computer I am using right now. Its an important feature of our everyday lives and I think this is why touching clothing is important to its possible purchase.

Friday, November 16, 2007

My Question

This article talks a lot about how the set up of the store, the environment, and the clues given by shoppers themselves can make or break a business. I, on the other hand, always believed that the sales people are the ones who can help sell a product. Do you think that sales people have any major impact on the whether or not a business flourishes or fails?

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Packaging Part 2

Packaging does more than just bring in customers to buy a certain product. One of the more important things it does is protect the actual object. Many objects are dropped, scratched, and even stepped on while they are in the store. If I were to find an object that had damage to it, I would certainly not by it, as would many people. Because of the packaging, many products can be slightly abused and still be perfectly fine without lowering the value of the product. Objects like CD's and DVD's have the outside plastic casing to protect them from falls and scratches. This is similar to many products and help protect the longevity of the protect. Packaging also helps with the usability of an object. If you were to try a product that had the container of a Gatorade bottle, but the contents of pancake mix, it would be very difficult to use. Usability is a big factor in packaging because it can make something so much easier to use, and even though it won't normally prevent the consumer from buying it, it still helps create loyalty and appreciation for the company.
The articles we read for class suggested that we should try to make our packages for products more recycler-friendly, which I agree with completely. After reading the article on all the trash dumped in the ocean, I was actually kind of pissed that we weren't doing anything about it. I was also bummed about how this was the first time I was hearing about it. I think that as packagers, they should limit their use of packaging containing plastic and have them try to use more biodegradable products. If we enact laws forcing companies to severely limit their use of plastic and other dangerous products, we can drop the total amount of garbage dumped like Germany did when it enacted its Packaging Ordinance. We could adopt Germany's Green dot on our packaging here to help encourage recycling.

Monday, November 12, 2007


I believe packaging is very important when it comes to choosing a product because it is how the company grabs your attention. When you are looking at a shelf in a grocery store there are hundreds of options to choose from. How do you choose? I read a study once that said your eyes only pick up 5 to 7 objects at a time. So among all those objects, which one will grab your attention? The article Isn't it Iconic, brought up a lot of solid points that effective packaging designs have. I believe the most important is simple color contrast. You don't need to have seven different colors on your product, but just two or three solid or vibrant colors that contrast against each other. Whenever I am in the store, the most vibrant object usually stand out to me. One example I can think of is a rather new product, Stride gum. I usually buy Orbit gum myself, but one day I came across the Stride package, and I decided to buy that instead. To me, it has a much more visually appealing package than Orbit gum because it has a dark blue/green package with a cursive Stride on the front in white letters. It really helps this gum stand out because of the contrast it uses. I still buy Orbit gum because I prefer the taste, but I wish that it had a similar casing to Stride gum.
Other products that have visually appealing packages were be objects like Axe and Tag body spray/deodorant because the stick with two main colors, usually black and another vibrant color that quickly grab your attention. Other products such as Monster drinks and Gatorades also do an effective job of bringing your focus to that particular product.
When it comes to the usability of the package, I have never really had a major issue with poor packaging designs. Most designs are pretty simple to open, except of course prescription/over the counter medicines that have the lock twisty cap that you must squeeze first to open. But that obviously is because of safety issues, so that little children don't accidentally take that medicine. The only real problem I have had with packaging deals with the hard clear plastic packages the protect many technological products. They are the biggest pain in the neck to open because you can't do it without some type of sharp of object. And once you do get it open a little bit, you have to make sure you don't cut yourself with the plastic. That packaging design is the only real complaint I would have against usability.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Poor Website Designs

The website I read about poor website designs was interesting to look at because it makes me wonder how people create such crazy designs. Some of the design issues I saw made my head spin because of all the colors or graphics going on at the time. This website relates to our class because the author of the page is trying to show how to make a webpage as user friendly as possible. His main goal for this webpage is to show that websites are supposed to be made for the user, not the creator. I feel like this is an important point because some designers went nuts on their website design and you can't even tell what the website is about until you spend an hour looking at it. One page that I thought was a horribly designed webpage was the Accept Jesus, Forever Forgive. That was probably the trippiest webpage I have ever seen. With its rainbow colored, animated dove flying, holy music background, I thought I was about to go insane. With this website in mind, I think the key priciples for designing a webpage would be to design it for the user, and more importantly, apply the KISS method (Keep It Simple Stupid). A website does not need huge bold colored letters, or flying animals, or background music to attract a user. If anything, that distracts him/her from the real purpose of using the website. Keeping it simple will also help focus on the user and will solve a lot of your problems in the long run.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Classmates Blogs

I really like reading Ezra's blog because he applied the design concept we have been talking about in class to his real life. He talked about how his dad fought him overing wearing a bike helmet vs. a hard-core skating helmet. Ezra didn't want to wear the bike helmet because it didn't look at cool as the skater one and they both provided the same protection. Its funny to read his blog because nobody wants to ever wear the dorky bike helmet. My question would be why do designers not all make the average "bike helmet" look more like a skating helmet? Why design a helmet that people prefer not to wear?

Another blog I liked was Kelsey's blog because she tied in marketing with design. I have always been interested in marketing, but I never realized that design was a part of the marketing process. I like the aspect of marketing and I might look more into it as a possible career for the future.

The last blog I really liked Kate's blog. I thought it was a great example of how design can be too complicated. The fact that the lights were difficult to find in the first place was one of many problems Kate and her family experienced while they spent the night in the hotel. Also, how you have to hit the light several times to make it brighter was interesting because how would you know to hit it more times. Most lights involve a simple switch or a twisty type knob that forces you to adjust the lights that way. I just think that her whole situation is a perfect reason why designers should strive to make products as simple as possible.

Ezra's Blog
Kelsey's Blog
Kate's Blog