Here’s a continuation from my October 1st post about JCPenny discontinuing the J Ferrar undershirt line that dives a bit deeper into why really good undershirts that we love wearing don’t seem to have a long product life and get discontined.
Here’s the response from “S” after I sent him the confirmation about J Ferrar’s being discontinued:
Hello TUG – Thanks for your response and the time you took to research with JCP. I went to JCP this morning, and scoured the Tees in my pursuit of the elusive 95% cotton / 5% Lycra.
I could not find any J Ferrar in a clearance section or any place else. It looks like the brand has completely disappeared from my local JCP. I then took your recommendation about Stafford Performance. There was a large stock of Stafford Performance Tees, but all were 100% cotton. I could not find any 95 ctn /5 Lycra. I scoured the Stafford Performance line, all were in a non-zipper packaging. Maybe the 95/5 Stafford Performance in zip package is out there at other JCP stores.
On the clearance shelf, was a Stafford Essentials with 60 cotton / 40 poly, package of four for $20 and I think I could get another for 50% off. I was tempted to buy, but decided to pass.
I did find a BVD 95/5 blend, with a “New” on the package. Unfortunately, it was just in V-neck, not the Crew that I am looking for. The customer assistant said since it was brand new, she believes Crew neck would be forthcoming. I did buy one package of V-neck to test them.
For the Alfani Stretch, they were a bit out of my price range. Other Alfaini products were on sale at Macy’s, but not the Stretch. The nice assistant even verified the price for me. I am on a tight budget in this uncertain job market, so I can wait for a sale.
Any theories on why Merona 95/5, J Ferrar or others don’t have a long product life? I had such good luck. They feel great and wash great.
Why Good Undershirts Get Discontinued
I thought about Sam’s question over the weekend and after a visit to Target with Mrs. Tug, it all kind of fell into place for me. Since I felt this information was so important, instead of emailing Sam back, I decided to make it into this post. Here’s what I came up with.
I do have a theory on why some undershirts don’t have a long product shelf life. Actually, it’s not a theory at all. The simple truth here is that if undershirts don’t sell well, they will get discontinued. The innate problem here is all about whether or not people know about a product.
For people to know about a product, they have to hear about it somehow (via product marketing/pr). If a manufacturer doesn’t promote a product, people won’t know about it, so they won’t buy it and sales will be slow. Slow sales = Product being discontinued.
The problem is, marketing budgets are usually very limited (even moreso nowadays I have to believe) and when companies are figuring out where to spend their marketing and/or pr dollars, they have to allocate them to the product(s) that will likely yield the highest returns.
I suspect this is why people know about JCP Stafford, but not J Ferrar and people know about Hanes and not Merona undershirts being sold at Target. I also figure this is why so many guys just assume that Hanes, and maybe Fruit of the Loom, are the only undershirt companies out there.
Hanes spends a ridiculous amount of money on PR and marketing their undershirts and that is exactly why people know about them. In fact, Mrs. Tug and I were at Target over the weekend and when I visited the men’s underwear department it was clear that Hanes was the dominant undershirt offering.
Even Fruit of the Loom had a tiny selection compared to Hanes and they are probably the second largest undershirt seller in the United States. In looking at Target’s undershirt offering, it only consists of Hanes, Fruit-of-the-Loom, Merona, and Evolve (and evolve is more heavily weighted on underwear) and Hanes makes up for 90%+ of the undershirt real-estate there.
I also believe there is another aspect here and that’s retail presence and/or product awareness. Most guys will shop for undershirts/underwear at retailers like Target, Walmart, KOHLS, and various other department stores.
We only know about the options we physically see in these stores and will buy the ones we feel most confident about, the ones that fit our budgets, or even possibly the one that the sales person recommends.
One exception to this rule is if they see a product on tv (case in point – Spanx for Men, Equmen, Slim Ts, infomercials, home shopping channels) or hear about it word-of-mouth. If somebody sees/hears about a compelling product, they’ll be likely to buy it online if it’s not available in retail.
Other than that, what you see in retail is what you’ll likely wind up buying. The problem here is that many very good clothing products (undershirts) will never see the light of day in retailers.
The reason that is the case is because large retailers have large requirements, not only in being able to supply large amounts of inventory to them, but I have heard from many folks that retailers have very demanding marketing commitments. And why wouldn’t they? Retailers want to make sure a product they carry sells, so why not put it on the manufacturer to invest a ton a money in marketing the product and driving consumers to the retailer to purchase.
As you can see, this becomes a viscous cycle and in the end, the consumer is the one that gets the short-end of the stick because they are not made aware of the vast array of products that are available unless they turn to the internet, which many wouldn’t even consider doing.
I mean, who searches for undershirts on the internet? I know about 30k of these people who do this monthly on my site, but that’s a pretty small number compared to the male population that wears undershirts.
It’s not fair to the consumer and we definitely need to find a solution one of these days. Maybe I should rent a big billboard in Times Square for a month that just says UndershirtGuy.com!
Anyway, I hope my site provides some utility for those curious enough to find out what undershirt options are out there. Now we just have to find a way to spread the word!!