Urban Outfitters: Why It’s More than Just Popular Indie High Street Store

Shares in Urban Outfitters have been reported to have risen by seven percent this week, but what is it that this high street brand does so well? Perhaps it’s the association with the ever popular “indie” scene, however I think there’s much more to their retail reign than this alone. They have become well-known for their vintage, bohemian, kitschy apparel and housewares, and they just keep growing. Their key to this is satisfying their customer completely, and always being one step ahead of consumer demand.

When walking into the store, they do something which so many retailers try doing and fail, but in the environment of UO it works. Everything’s mismatched and dotted around, leading the customer right the way around the shop layout. Some customers would think this as confusing, but for the target customer of Urban Outfitters, the young, trendy, inspired shopper – they have hit their target market perfectly.

Yes, okay, I’m biased. Urban Outfitters has been my favourite store since it opened the doors of its Manchester branch. With it’s instantly recognisable front face, making it stand out from the other somewhat dated looking high street shells along Market Street, Urban Outfitters is instantly appealing. Once inside you’re hit with music from bands which most will have never heard of, giving the store that “ahead of the trend” appeal it is well-known for. And you’re mistaken if you think all they sell is fashionably young clothes – the homewares would delight any age, from vintage inspired pieces to more humorous, young products, plus their selection of books I can imagine appealing to my whole family. Photography and music are the main focuses, and I personally find myself entranced by the selection every time I step foot in the store.

Their dedication to supporting up and coming designers is applaudable, but of course the venture works very much in their favour. The customer for Urban Outfitters wants something individual, and wants things before anyone else has time to have heard of them. This leaves Urban Outfitters being almost the only high street store which offers this, meaning they can charge a premium. Do I think the prices are too high? My purse does, but unfortunately a student budget doesn’t cover much. However I’m always happy to save and pay that premium, as I know that I wont be wearing something that by the time I’ve put my card back into my purse three of my peers already own.

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The reason for the success of Urban Outfitters is simple: their dedication to knowing their customer inside out. When introducing a new brand they have to be able to see the connection the brand will have with their consumer. To some it may be hard to see how such an eclectic mix of fashions and trends can appeal to one target consumer, but they do. I know because I am that consumer, and everything that gets rolled out of the stock room I fall in love with.

And on that note, see you on Market Street!

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