Acceptable? Fat chance!
Earlier in the year, New Look was in the news amid plans for a financial restructing that would see the 1,000 jobs being cut and 60 stores being closed.
Not big news nowadays, when many high street chains are facing the same fate.
Indeed, some haven’t even had the luxury of simply closures and job losses and have, instead, bidded the retail world a permanent farewell.
So, the fashion chain’s announcement was no big surprise for anyone.
Today though, New Look are making huge waves in the news. Because they are offering an emotive customer experience for all the wrong reasons.
The public are outraged following the discovery that some items of larger sized clothing items were more expensive than their otherwise identical counterparts in smaller sizes.
Outrageous indeed, particularly when you consider that the average clothing size for women in the UK is a 16.
It was one unsuspecting shopper – Kent-based retail supervisor, Maria Wassell – than made the observation that the trousers she was looking at in the ‘Curves’ selection had a price tag that was a whopping 15% more expensive than the same pair in the main collection.
The big debate
The discovery has sparked a lot of discussion and has divided opinion as to whether it is fair or acceptable.
Some people are of the opinion that using more material should mean higher prices.
On the BBC’s Victoria Derbyshire programme, plus-sized fashion designer Anna Scholz, said there was a limit to the size range that could be produced for the same price. She claimed it can take twice the fabric to make the same shirt for a larger size as a small one.
But many say it is simply mightily unfair to the end user. Not to mention discriminatory.
“Fat tax” is the phrase that’s being bandied around.
As plus-sized model Nyome Nicholas-Williams, stated… Knowing you have to pay extra money for larger clothes is tantamount to being told that you have to lose weight.
There’s no doubt that customer feedback would be the same if stores started charging more for the ‘tall’ range. Because that too contains extra fabric.
As eagle-eyed shopper Marie pointed out, she is only slightly bigger than average. She also used to work for a plus-sized retailer and refuted the claim that bigger sizes should carry a higher price tag as complete and utter rubbish.
Emily Sutherland, fashion trade journal Drapers’ features writer agreed.
As she said and we mentioned earlier, tall and maternity ranges all comprise more fabric but they are rarely priced higher. And, as a general rule, clothing in petite collections don’t tend to be any cheaper.
Indeed, plus-size purchases are actually on the increase. According to statistics, there has been a big jump in the money being spent on plus-size clothing in the last three years.
Consumer satisfaction is of paramount importance for a business to succeed.
So, they’re having a laugh if they believe a “fat tax” – that only serves to ostracise customers and makes them feel penalised for their size – is acceptable.
Ok, so New Look have said they are working to ensure such pricing differences don’t happen again.
So why the hell did they let it happen in the first place?
Stores should be practicing pricing harmony as standard.
As a business you wouldn’t discriminate on consumers based on their race, gender or sexuality. (Or at least shouldn’t – two fingers up to anyone that does).
So why should you discriminate against people based on their measurements?!
The customer is always right. And you need to make sure you give them the right kind of emotive customer experience.
Of course, if you don’t know what it is they want, you need to get in touch with us. We can carry out detailed end user experience monitoring, so you can understand your business from the consumers’ perspective.
In the meantime, you need to make your pricing policies fair and just. And don’t discriminate against the people that pay your bills.
We may not all be the same but we are all equal. And should be treated as such.