Clothing Retailer Misses Word of Mouth Opportunity


This weekend I took @mariagarcia to Soho to show her one of my favorite shops in the neighborhood. I had discovered it a week ago and wanted to go back with her to capture a few photos I could use in a blog post proclaiming my love for the brand. While we shopped, I snapped a few photos of elements of the in-store experience that stood out to me... until I was interrupted by a store clerk who informed me that "it is against store policy to allow customers to take photos in our store." Although I assured her that I was not some kind of spy sent from a competitor but was a blogger taking photos to show readers (who might not otherwise get to see a store that's only located at the moment in NY, TX and CA and has a rather limited online shopping experience) why I loved it, she told me that I'd need to contact the corporate office and get clearance to do so.

I was really annoyed. By this point, I'd personally spent a considerable amount of money as a customer, had brought my friend along to do the same, and was going to invest time and space on my blog to show readers how much I enjoyed the brand. I imagined that the corporate office was, at the same time, probably meeting to strategize methods of pitching bloggers or getting customers like me to become brand evangelists. They were spending money at a macro level to plan, and yet, at a micro, in-store level, I was literally being prevented from doing the very thing they were most likely working to promote.

The clerk was nice, and really just doing her job to enforce a policy her bosses had given her. And although I respected policy and turned off my camera, it really left me thinking, something's gotta change! We live in a world where companies more than ever hope to see customers share WOM about their brands; at the same time, we as customers have more devices that allow us to instantly do so. Yet, in-store, we're told to turn off our cameras, camera phones, Flip Videos... and to clear our instinct to spread WOM with the corporate office. I met other retailers that day who were happy to have me take photos and speak with them about the brand. You'll be seeing my blog posts about them later this week.

by Amanda Mooney    Jul- 7-08   Click to Comment   
Topic: Bad, Brands, Word of Mouth   

Enjoy what you've read? Subscribe to Adrants Daily and receive the daily contents of this site each day along with free whitepapers.



Wow talk about letting a good opportunity slip through their fingers. I agree 100% with you. It's safe to say that on the back end they are probably investing mounds of money on Social Media trying to increase their online presence, but are clearly overlooking one of the easiest methods -- WOM.

Next time when they tell you that you can't take pics just say..."well then guess I can't tell (x number of your readers/friends) about your store." Telling them you were going to tell thousands of people might make them rethink....or at least get an odd look out of them :)

Posted by: Scott on July 7, 2008 12:28 PM

Thanks for highlighting this issue Amanda. I too have experienced this oddball behavior at a popular shop in Boston: Aunt (ie?) Sadie's. I was taking a photo of a very popular and exposed line of stationary they carry, and was asked to stop (I did) and asked sternly, "if you have any further questions, how may I help you?" I apologized and then left, without buying anything and won't return. I can understand this behavior from a competitive perspective when a line is not yet launched etc. But why an embargo on distributed items, even those that can be called up on Amazon?? Aunt Sadie's doesn't sell anything I can't get elsewhere. The experience in a brick and mortar store is just that, the experience, the atmosphere. If you don't engage people in person, fahgettaboutit.

Posted by: Selina on July 7, 2008 1:03 PM

Are you going to tell us the name of the offending (but cool) store? Or are we to be punished too?

Posted by: seamallowance on July 7, 2008 1:54 PM

Sorry to dilute your self-importance as a "blogger" but you should first ask Foley & Corinna how a design is counterfeited. Then how much it cost their business. Next you should measure the perceived financial effect your post will have on a business. Let us know when you can claim a net gain.

Posted by: Mark on July 7, 2008 2:40 PM

hmmm...time to start whining and guess. looks like some form of jcrew crap judging by the picture. i thought they had some lowend version of their stuff, kinda like a old navy to the gap.

ah ha...a quick google search of "jcrew 1937" (1937 appearing in the pic) finds looking at the stores, Soho, texas, and CA. pretend you didnt blog about them.

Posted by: timetoguess on July 7, 2008 4:17 PM

here is a link for those still installing a google on their computers

Posted by: timetoguess on July 7, 2008 4:19 PM

Go to K-Mart! Seriously! Wall Street Journal reporter Laura Landro did and took photos, then wrote about getting accused of shoplifting and detained in a windowless room for an hour. Fun times! Because I ALWAYS take photos of my family in K-Mart... LOL

Posted by: Marion on July 8, 2008 3:44 PM

Very nice article.....keep the good work going on...

Posted by: Oakley Sunglasses on July 9, 2008 3:33 AM

well don't be surprised by the clerk's attitude --

i'm pretty sure they warn them about things like this because i once worked for this guy that owned a jeans brand here in argentina and what he would do (motherfucker) was to travel abroad and shoot pictures inside of the stores he liked, then come back here and produce his ugly, no-quality versions of it all.

so ... that's probably why. i think.

Posted by: martin korben on July 9, 2008 7:52 PM

See - the consumer is NOT in control. The retailer is. It's his shop, so you play by his rules. Two biggest things retailers fear = retail theft and competitive theft. Letting "supposed bloggers" who will "supposedly write positive things" ping all over the store flashing pics, distracting everyone from what's supposed to be going on? i say the store did the right thing.

Ask for permission next time. And don't assume everyone "doesn't get it." It's called choice. If they want your UGC, they'll ask you for it.

Posted by: Kevin Horne on July 10, 2008 1:49 PM

Good to see this blogs..the writing style is very good..


Posted by: Mens Underwear on July 24, 2008 5:12 AM

Hi! This is very nice blog site. I like this.

Posted by: Leogreen on August 4, 2008 5:30 AM

Good to see your blog.....Thanks for sharing it...

Posted by: Fetish Clothing on September 11, 2008 7:10 AM

Nice blog. I will keep reading......

Posted by: Rubber Fetish on September 12, 2008 7:01 AM

oh1 what a great writing style..i really appreciate your blog..well done

Posted by: Latex Fetish on September 19, 2008 1:03 AM

Its opportunities like these that get missed all the time!! Just one time and it'll work!

Posted by: Rockville Law Firm on May 14, 2009 4:57 PM

The post tells me about the things I'd personally spent a considerable amount of money as a customer, how much I enjoyed the brand.
Kijuli-Play Sonic Games.

Posted by: hiller on July 25, 2009 3:02 AM