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Does Sex Really Sell? American Apparel and Other Retailers May Need a New Marketing Plan

( [email protected] ) Jul 02, 2014 06:04 PM EDT
Some think Sex marketing may have run it's course, but others see it's decline as another trend that will turn back around eventually.

If you are an American, then you have probably been reminded repeatedly that "sex sells".  You have probably been told that before, but surely you have witnessed many marketing attempts to peddle products using racy photographs, language, or sexual insinuation of some sort.  

According to Forbes, many retailers may need to reexamine their use of lust or sex to push their goods or services.

Apparently sales at teen chain Abercrombie & Fitch and fashion retailer Bebe, and the recently sexually maligned American Apparel,  all of which peddle sex one way or another, are falling, and management is trying to figure out how to turn things around.

It appears that when it comes to fashion anyway, sex just isn't selling these days.

While the retailers' poor sales more than likely go toward proving that teens are struggling in this economy too, it also points to a larger failure to appeal to shoppers who've become either desensitized or offended by the sex, sex, sex marketing that has pervasively attached itself to nearly every part of American culture.

Many believe that the place in marketing for socially conscious or "Cause Marketing" is growing in the modern world.  

Think Tom's Shoes giving a pair of kicks to a needy kid when you buy a pair, or Yoplait Yogurt's 'save lids, save lives' campaign that gives money to fight breast cancer when you redeem the tops.  

Thousands of companies have tried to do well in business by doing good in the world, and for many it has paid off, big-time.  

For instance, Lee National Denim Day  which started in 1996 has made huge inroads with women by embracing the breast cancer cause in a unique way: It empowered consumers to organize workplace drives where employees can contribute $5 for the right to wear jeans to work on the first Friday in October. According to Cause Marketing Forum, the program has raised nearly $75 million for breast cancer research and advocacy.

Although this wholesome marketing trend is taking the raunchy out of retail a bit, it may not sustain over the long haul.  

Many think sex's retail appeal is fading because of the economy more than any other factor.  

"The customer is telling us they want comfortable, casual apparel that they can dress-up and dress-down, whether on the street, at the gym and on a date. They want it all - and sexy is limiting." Jane Hali, vice president and director of custom research for trend forecasting service WGSN Group, told Forbes.

From a Christian perspective, Pastor Jason Thomas from First Baptist Church Fort Oglethorpe Ga.,  says he is encouraged and hopeful, but he too does not see sex's allure going away anytime soon.

"Sex is such a powerful gift from God, but people tend to use it for destructive and damaging purposes." He said, "Because of it's power, it will always be something that is appealing to people."