Men’s Wearhouse founder George Zimmer has been its highly-visible public face for many years, but on Wednesday, June 19th, the day the company was scheduled to hold its annual shareholders meeting, it instead postponed the meeting and announced that Zimmer was leaving the company. The board did not elaborate on its decision, but some speculate that the board would like to appeal more to millennial shoppers, and the 64 year old Zimmer might not be the right spokesperson to achieve that objective. Data from YouGov’s BrandIndex does show that while the brand outperforms among 35+ consumers, it has been struggling with 18-34 year olds over the past seven months.
Purchase consideration for Men’s Wearhouse among millennials18 – 34 has slowly been eroding since last December to the point where their rivals are now slightly ahead of them in wooing the demographic.
Some published reports have cited analyst Richard Jaffe of Stifel Financial Corp., saying the company had been reviewing Zimmer’s success as a spokesman: “An old guy with a gray beard may not provide credibility to the product in the eyes of a 22- or 24-year-old,” he told the New York Times.
Men’s Wearhouse only recently had an edge in purchase consideration with millennials over a composite of its rivals, which include Joseph A. Bank, Nordstrom, Macy’s and Lord & Taylor. But that lead winnowed down to even at the beginning April, stayed that way for a month, and then continued to deteriorate while the competitors have had a modest increase among the demographic since May.
Despite the declines with millennials, Men’s Wearhouse just announced last week that its profits were up an impressive 23%.
For the 35 and old crowd, purchase consideration of Men’s Wearhouse has remained steady, with 17% of the demo saying they’d consider the Fremont, CA-based chain when they’re in the market for clothes. For rivals, that percentage has also remained steady at 15%.
Shortly after the board’s announcement, Zimmer issued his own statement: “…Over the past several months I have expressed my concerns to the Board about the direction the company is currently heading…the Board has innapropriatley chosen to silence my concerns through termination as an exective officer.” The controversy may continue, as some consumers have begun speaking out against the firing on the company’s Facebook page and even threatening to boycott the store.
Men’s Wearhouse and its competitive sector were measured with YouGov BrandIndex’s Purchase Consideration score, which asks respondents, “Which brands would you consider the next time that you are in the market to purchase clothing and apparel?” Results were divided into adults 18 – 34 and adults 35 and over. YouGov BrandIndex Consideration scores can range from 0 to 100%.