Urban Outfitters taking a step back
Tom Dougherty, CEO – Stealing Share
15 March 2016
Urban Outfitters and vinyl records
I am a child of the 60’s and proud of it.
In fact, a greater majority of my brand beliefs are rooted in ideas that sprang forth at that time. One such belief is that some of the finest music ever made came from that era. The earnestness of Dylan pleading, “How many roads must a man walk down?” Or the boys, Crosby, Stills & Nash, singing in holy-like unison for the children to “Teach their parents well.”
I believed in words like that. Still do. They spoke to my condition and the condition of the times.
Perhaps that’s why I get so nostalgic when I look back over my record collection. I think back to the feeling of dropping the arm on my record player, the warm static of the needle first hitting vinyl, and the richness that rocked from my speakers and the way it hit me.
It’s also why a wellspring of emotions came to me when I read that Urban Outfitters is curating and pressing its own vinyl.
Today’s generation is seeking a brand identity.
I look at my children and the world they are being raised in. In them, there appears to be a desire to seek (that is, when they are not on their phones or taking selfies). It’s why there is such a nod to the past; like the resurrection of the record player and vinyl LPs.
Think about it; the kids today are seeking to connect with music in the deepest way possible. Nothing comes closer to that than a spinning black circle. Don’t believe me? In 2014, 9.2 million records were sold. That’s a 53% increase. Where I live, in Greensboro, NC, there aren’t any CD stores anymore. But there are four stand-alone vinyl shops.
This means Urban Outfitters should be careful.
Being that this is an exploratory period for the rising generation, Urban Outfitters needs to be smart about the records they produce and how they are marketed. A brand-defining moment for this generation will be lost if it is going to dive into the vinyl game for novelty reasons alone, just because it’s hip, all the while selling schlock albums and even worse record players.
Then there is the other problem. Does Urban Outfitters have the brand permission to even sell vinyl records? Is the Urban Outfitters brand about nostalgia? Who is the target audience here? Is Urban Outfitters authentic? If not, then this initiative will fail.
I’ve been tough on Urban Outfitters in the past, and rightfully so. In this instance, I will remain tough on it and make this plea: Urban Outfitters, please look beyond what’s superficial and take stock of what your target audience is truly seeking; a heartfelt need to define themselves.
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