Anyone who knows me will tell you that I can talk for years about Anthropologie and how everything that they do is brilliant. And I think that my dedication to this brand not only comes from the fact that I want to look like I stepped out of 1895, but also because they engage me in an incredibly tactile way-- not only through their photos (the way that they channel the baguette brown above makes me hear the crackle of the crust), but by providing me with glimpses of the lifestyle that I want to embody.
What Anthropologie has managed to do to hook girls like me--who don't make enough to routinely spend $138 on a phenomenally beautiful dress-- is provide ways to insert their lifestyle into my daily existence... for free.
The examples below, I think, are incredibly instructive for anyone trying to build up a brand--what you are marketing is a feeling. And if you give people tiny pieces of the feeling for free, it's like a gateway drug. And then they will buy your products. Even if that amazing purse is out of their price range. They need the hit.
1) Their catalog
Anthro works for each of their catalogs to be as rich with beauty as Vogue. And I don't need to go and buy Vogue to see it. I get it delivered to my mailbox, for free, every month.
Currently, I am staring at their 89 page long March 2010 catalog, in which they are providing me with not only one, but 5 visual stories featuring their products.
The important thing, though-- is that they let me construct, for myself, meaning behind each series. They put together pictures that are rich enough with detail, that it allows me to lose myself in trying to construct a narrative for each one. That way-- I get to spend a significant amount of time daydreaming myself into these worlds-- with their products as my props. So yes, I will purchase that dress eventually... especially if it means that it will transport me from my no-windows cubicle into a mini-greenhouse.
Similary-- their wish list function... lets me build my own stories out of their props.
2) The Anthropologist
The Anthropologist was started late last year and basically showcases artists that fit the Anthropologie aesthetic. The first three artists were Photographer David Eustace, Filmmaker/Photographer Andrew Zuckerman and Filmmaker Jane Campion. Each section has an online gallery that represents an experience which Anthropologie has curated with key words.
Interested in "Passing through alright to get to wonderful..." Andrew Zuckerman.
How about experiencing "Quiet moments where nothing is said..." David Eustace.
(The Eustace section is particularly wonderful)
Each gallery is Anthropologie curating art for you-- and saying "This is our aesthetic. We know good art and we want to share it with you. We are not just selling a product. We are opening up doors to new experience." Both by introducing you to new artists and curating the artistic content into stories-- you start to associate cultrual taste with the brand.
3) Facebook Exclusives-- Music Playlist
They also curate music for me. I won't lie, I downloaded this playlist-- paying for all of the songs I didn't already have.
And every time I play it on my iPod I think about the experience of being in their store-- which is a journey unto itself. (I often go into the store just to make myself feel better after work.)
Again-- it's about taste, about culture, about adding little pieces to my day that make me feel like I don't spend the majority of my time staring at a computer screen-- but that I am experiencing something else.
Listen to "Pencil Full of Lead" by Paolo Nuntini and tell me that you are actually still sitting at your desk and not having late afternoon lunch in a Caribbean cafe.
The point is-- Anthro compounds their dresses and purses and shoes with all of these other elements. Every time they post something, music, pictures, etc.-- I will relate it back to the things that they sell. They are endeavoring for a totality of involvement. Sound, image, touch of the cloth. Creating a lifestyle and drawing you in by engaging every sense possible.
Next thing: Original Short films? (I'll make them for you Anthro!! Call me!)
Photo 1 from Anthropologie January 2010 Catalog, 2 from Anthropologie March 2010 Catalog, 3 and 4 from www.thanthropologist.org, 5 from facebook.