Have you been lying to your customers to improve the customer experience?


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You look marvelous! Have you lost some weight? Well, not really, but thanks for looking at me through your waist reduction glasses!

Did you read about the men’s pants waist size investigation conducted by Esquire? Esquire’s investigation found that several men’s pants brands are making waist sizes appear smaller to make their customers feel better. For example, pants from The Gap that say they are 36 inches are actually 39 inches, pants from Dockers that claim to have a 36 inch waist actually have a 39.5 inch waist, and Old Navy’s 36 inch waist really measures 41 inches.

Gentlemen, welcome to the world of “vanity sizing,” and as its name suggests, it is designed to satisfy buyers’ wishes to appear thin and feel better about themselves. In doing so the store hopes to sell more clothes, and to create loyalty so you keep coming back to them. It is a practice so widespread throughout the fashion industry that most shoppers accept that negotiating size inconsistencies between stores is built into the shopping experience. And since clothing sizes are not standardized the manufacturer is not technically lying to you.

I’ve discovered that my wife isn’t buying it. She told me you can’t take 10 pounds of stuff and jam it into a 5 pound bag because at the end of the day … it’s still 10 pounds. That means my diet and exercise program is not going to get waved anytime soon. It also means I need to start taking time to try things on – or make sure I can return the clothing if it doesn’t fit. Actually, I was trying to save time and avoid the fitting process, and I hate waiting in return lines.

Now that I consider all those factors my customer experience would improve if the labels would just state the correct size.

Alan See
Alan See is Principal and Chief Marketing Officer of CMO Temps, LLC. He is the American Marketing Association Marketer of the Year for Content Marketing and recognized as one of the "Top 50 Most Influential CMO's on Social Media" by Forbes. Alan is an active blogger and frequent presenter on topics that help organizations develop marketing strategies and sales initiatives to power profitable growth. Alan holds BBA and MBA degrees from Abilene Christian University.


  1. Alan, this is so true! I was buying all of my business suits at the same store, I didn’t even try pants on as I had found my perfect cut. I am very petite and was happy to find a XS and size 0 that fit me to a “T”. Then one day I came home and found everything too big… did I lose weight? No. Do all my other clothes still fit? Yes. Hmmm so I went back to the store and they explained that their sizes had changed to “better accommodate their customers”, and now they had introduced a new size XXS and 00. What???? It was embarrassing enough to ask for a size 0, makes you feel like “nothing”, now I have to ask for a double nothing!

    Sadly this marketing strategy does work, I know more than one person that likes to shop at stores where they wear smaller sizes. Let’s hope manufacturers of scales don’t catch on, I don’t want to get on a scale that tells me I weigh 10 pounds less than I do… although you know they would sell like hotcakes!

    Joking aside I have no respect for companies that pursue marketing strategies that exploit customer trust. Thanks for writing this post, it’s good to bring awareness to this craziness.


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