Check your email, Anthro lovers! There might just be a survey waiting for you. It arrived in my inbox yesterday (September 7) with the subject line “We’re curious…”
To entice you to take the survey there’s even a treat at the end — 20% off your next full price purchase. I’ve got the code (which is the same for everyone) at the bottom of this post. I’m delighted that Anthropologie sent out this survey even though I had some really harsh words for them this time around. That they are surveying us says that they are trying and wanting to understand what their customers want. That’s reassuring to me. Let’s talk content of the survey, my answers, and your answers too.
After a quick demographics question, Anthropologie launched right into the good stuff. The survey I received (which I believe in the same for everyone but please do correct me if I’m wrong) is all about why we shop or no longer shop at Anthropologie. In the past I’ve tried to be supportive yet critical. This time? I went right for blunt honesty.
My answers to the top question?
Used to be great
Ouch I know, but that’s how I feel. From the boxes at the bottom I selected “I used to shop there but haven’t recently.” This isn’t entirely accurate — I did make a few NYFW purchases there this week, but I hadn’t bought anything there over the Summer of note and felt it was the closest to my true feelings.
Next the survey had me rate some adjectives for how much I felt they described Anthropologie, on a scale of 1 (not much) to 3 (totally describes them).
Le sigh. How would you rate Anthropologie on these things? Next, I got to rate Anthro on a greater scale, from 1 (weak) to 10 (strong) on a range of departments.
I gave them a high score in furniture and decor because I truly think they’re knocking it out of the park there with design, though I think they could do better on price points. My tough scores elsewhere are more clearly defined below.
What scores would you give Anthro in each of these categories?
Later in the survey, I got a chance to share specific feedback on several areas of my choice. First up, I chose to address quality.
Building upon what I said above, I don’t blame Anthropologie alone for the quality drop that’s nearly across the board in retail. As retailers have offshored production to cheaper and cheaper countries, processes and safeguards that used to be in place have been lost. Quality control? Nearly a thing of the past.
So I’d give just about any retailer the same harsh words I’ve given Anthro here. What disappoints me greatly about Anthropologie though was that they’d avoided these issues for so much longer than everyone else. How did they let themselves fall prey to the crap-o monsters?
What more really needs to be said on clothing that fits, right? These days Anthropologie makes it a lot of work to find the waist. Women don’t want to have to find the waist.
I’d love to hear your thoughts on Anthro’s current styles too. I know we talk about this ad nauseum, but this post is the ideal forum for it!
Oh, the online experience question. I didn’t even get a chance to mention the issues with so many online only items here but luckily I got another chance later in the survey.
Next up I was asked to ranked how frequently I consider Anthropologie for the below categories.
What a great question, because this and a few follow-ups allowed me to emphasize that I don’t need to go to Anthropologie to buy beauty stuff. I wish they’d devote the floor space they’ve given to beauty to more accessories and online-only clothing instead.
What’s more, if they are going to have beauty in store then they need a beauty specialist on-duty at all times so that I can ask questions. I hardly ever make a beauty purchase without trying something on my skin first (as in a professional application done by a makeup artist) and getting recommendations from an expert. Even at Sephora or Ulta or its ilk I’m not buying unless it’s a brand I’ve already tried with an artist.
When I visited the Portland Anthropologie & Co last year the staff had been through a pre-opening 6 week training with many of the beauty brands carried in-store. Meanwhile, here in NYC all the Anthros have beauty counters but no one seems to have much specific knowledge about the brands. How can Anthropologie not see this as a huge hole? There’s no beauty bar where I can make an appointment or walk in for a consultation.
In their last several quarterly earnings call Anthro has highlighted beauty as a sweet spot in their performance, so I’m mystified by all these customers who buy an item…I guess based on knowing a brand already or impulse? I don’t know but the beauty bars in the stores haven’t really been too tempting to me…except when I try to think of Instagram flatlay shots for the blog. (How meta.)
The final question in the survey was an open question — is there any other feedback you want to give? Here is what I said.
“Anthropologie used to be my favorite store. Each season, I keep hoping that things will have turned around, that you will have emerged from your quarter life crisis of trying to be too young and too hip and go back to what made you appealing in the first place: unique, well-thought out designs of high quality that had people asking me everyday, “Where’d you get that?”
I don’t need to buy AG, Rails, or whatever brand of the moment you’ve decided to carry at Anthropologie. In the last few years I’ve bought a few trendy items at Anthro but I’d give them all back if it somehow led you to believe your customers come to you for that! Most of your tops are too boxy and shapeless, and many are short to boot. Your dresses are by and large sacks of increasingly low quality. Even your Pilcro brand which was a highlight is tumbling downward in quality while the price now matches many designer brands — designer brands that by and large have superior quality which allows them to command three-digit price points.
Your accessories and shoes are two highlight categories, however it’s very hard to find most of those products in-store. In fact these days it’s hard to find A LOT of your products in-store because they’re online only, and many of those online only items are the items that at least seem to hold the most promise of old Anthro.
I’m so sad to see store space that could have been used for all your online-only clothing or shoe items lost to categories I could not care less about like beauty and fragrance. At least have a beauty specialist on-duty if you’re going to carry these things in stores.
On top of it all, the stores have lost their sense of wandering beauty that made me happily spend extended lunch breaks there. There is no sense of outfits, something beautiful waiting to be discovered, or that a hidden gem is just over on the next rack waiting to be found.
If you think me to be some customer who wants everything to stay the same and can’t accept change, let me tell you that is not it at all. I happily discover new brands and retailers each year and have created a wardrobe built on modern classics with trends worked in each year. I’ve enjoyed transformations that your sister store Free People has undergone for example — yet while their story changes every year the underlying theme remains consistent, making it a fun journey to be on with them! What saddens me is I thought Anthropologie would be the one store I could always turn to. You used to get tens of thousands of dollars from me each year, this year I doubt I’ve spent $1,000 with you.
I am still rooting for you Anthropologie, but I can’t justify spending much there right now. Not only do the designs not resonate with me…they’re clearly not resonating with most customers either. I don’t know who you’re trying to appeal to, but you’re doing a good job of alienating many.”
If you’ve completed the survey I’d love to know what you said, and your feedback on any and all of the above questions. To get 20% off your next full price purchase use the code NGX0917GRT at checkout.
Here are 7 items I bought at Anthropologie for NYFW that I like and recommend (note: I typically overbuy for fashion week and then return whatever I don’t wear):
1 – Strappy Colorblock Cami ($58) — I thought this looked a bit ugly online but in real life it’s actually quite beautiful! Made of hammered silk in a beautiful medium blue, the top has sheer gauze straps that are not nearly as opaque as they look online. The overall look is ethereal and beautiful. I took a medium.
2 – Interlocked Drop Earrings ($38) — Large yet lightweight, these oversized earrings look terrific with a boho top, which is just how I wore them to the Desigual show yesterday (pics upcoming).
3 – Estelle Plaid Tank (now $40 + 25% off) — The survey code won’t work on this sale top, but you still get an extra 25% off thanks to a sale promo. The top is quite wide which is fashion week perfect, and for normal wear it looks great over wide-leg jeans with a long cardigan. Pics upcoming! I bought a medium because it was the smallest size I could find in-store, but a small would have been my preference.
4 – Fluttered Tunic Dress ($168) — A swingy and fun dress! I love the ruffle sleeves and mirror accents around the neckine. Unfortunately the body of the dress runs large while the sleeves run very tight around the upper arms; I ended up in a large.
5 – Asymmetrical Turtleneck Dress ($148) — Figure-flattering with a striking pattern, my only complaint is that the pattern of the dress doesn’t line up at either side-seam. Le sigh Anthropologie! Quality control issue right there. This dress is very stretchy, so I took my usual medium even though I often size up when a dress is quite form-fitting like this one.
6 & 7 – Draped Off-The-Shoulder Pullover ($98) — I’ve been eyeing this sweater for a few weeks now, so I was delighted to pick it up when I found it in-store. The material is lightweight but comfy, no itch factor here. Because I have broader shoulders I found I needed a size large to achieve the one-shoulder effect shown in the product shot. And because I’m a sucker for good styling, I also bought the Alexiou Drop Earrings ($54) shown with the neutral color of the sweater online.