Gap, you make me sad

The other day I visited a Gap store while on my break from work with the hopes of trying on a new pair of jeans that Gap launched so that I could find the right size. While the jeans were fantastic and I ended up ordering them online, I was so disappointed by the physical Gap store that I visited that I felt the need to write about it.

As a disclaimer, I was only in one Gap store and can’t speak for every Gap store in the country. However, most of the pressing issues with the store that I noticed seem to be corporate merchandising decisions that are just followed by the people who work in this store, which is why I’m generalizing the entire Gap experience as outdated and sad.

I really love Gap products and can always count on them for quality denim and outerwear, but they’ve just let themselves go as time has gone on. What was once such a prominent company in the American consumer’s eye is now a brand that is often seen as inexpensive and outdated. With quarterly results that continue to drop and the stepping down of Art Peck, former CEO, I actually believe that Gap has a lot of potential but things just need to change.

When on the Gap website and looking at new arrivals, one might actually find it surprising that jeans retail for around $80 and wool coats retail for around $200 because the average shopper never pays that much for Gap products. Lone behold Gap’s first problem, there are too many deep promotions that occur throughout the year. Gap needs to decide whether or not they want to be a discount retailer or a full-price retailer with a couple of seasonal sales. This way, the consumer knows what to actually expect in price from the company. A reason that I ended up purchasing those jeans online was that there was a site-wide 50% off your purchase promotion and I could use my Gap cash, which brought the jeans down to $35. There were no promotions on the jeans in-store, and they weren’t even marketed as new product.

My nest issue with Gap is their social media presence. How boring!!! A strong Instagram presence is so critical for an apparel company’s brand image, and Gap’s is nothing short of uninspiring. Their posts solely feature people modeling their products on a white background, which makes it hard to imagine yourself wearing their products while out and about living your life. Every person looks like a model, and I think it would be really beneficial for Gap to showcase posts from people in the community wearing their products to make their social presence less forced.

Lastly, when I was in the store, I was incredibly confused by the physical layout. There was A TON of product everywhere, and I struggled to find the new products that I was looking for, which are usually right in the front of the store. There was essentially no marketing, and it’s holiday season! The mannequins were dressed in outfits that were overly colorful and hard to imagine anyone wearing. Gap’s online presence focuses on the history of the brand and their strives for inclusivity, but the actual gap stores look like discount outlets. If you want people to spend $200 on a coat, it can’t be on a rack with $14 t-shirts and $20 blouses, it should be in an full-priced outerwear section or surrounded by full-priced items that can logically be worn with it.

Shopping in a physical Gap, which I had not done in a long time, had me overwhelmed and my merchandising red flags were all up. Gap needs to figure out who they are and who they sell to, and then create marketing plans that embrace that brand and customer if they want any kind of chance for survival when so many other brands are doing it so much better than them.

Published by Emma Irwin

Emma Irwin is a passionate student of the retail industry. Freshly graduated from the University of Minnesota with a B.S. in Retail Merchandising, she will be pursuing an M.S. in Apparel Studies with a concentration in Retail and Consumer Studies in fall 2020. Career ambitions include writing a formal research paper, becoming a retail writer and reporter, and maybe being a CEO someday.

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