When was the last time you walked into a Gap to do some shopping? My guess is for most of us, not all that recently. And yet there was a time when the Gap had a bit more relevance, more cache’. It was the original hip, blue jeans store with a name that was short for ‘the generation gap’. It was long hair and Levi’s. It was fun and anti-establishment.
But like a lot of consumer brands, the Gap lost relevance as its original target audience grew older (many are retired now). They didn’t do a good job of telling successive generations why the brand should matter to them.
But recently, the Gap did something that’s very smart from a marketing perspective: They raised the minimum wage there to $10. That change will affect 65,000 Gap employees. (For accuracy, it will become $9 a hour this June and $10 an hour in June of 2015.)
Now this has to cut into profits, so why would they do this? First, retail is based on customer service. When you pay your employees more, they feel better about working there – and they will treat customers better, too. If you have a good experience in a store, you come back.
Next, it’s a very smart PR move. It shows that the Gap cares about people who work there, and understands that trying to get by on poverty wages is nearly impossible. Finally, in the age of social media and constant connection it makes even more sense to demonstrate that your company knows how to behave responsibly. When you do the right thing, people tell other people. And that’s smart marketing.