Ralph Lauren, born Ralph Lipshitz, is one of the most famous and successful clothing designers in the world. Born in NYC, Ralph Lauren started in the fashion world as a sales person for Brooks Brothers. He eventually launched his own brand of ties which he sold in New York department store Bloomingdale’s. His high sales numbers at Bloomingdale’s prompted other elite department stores to sell his products. He was encouraged to design other types of clothing. The brand eventually launched a flagship store on Fifth Avenue in New York. The company went public in 1997. Today Ralph Lauren is personally worth over $7 billion. The brand now has flagship stores in New York, Paris, Tokyo, Milan, London, Moscow, Greenwich and Chicago. While there is much to learn from Mr. Lauren as both a designer and a business man, here are three of his most effective tools:
One of the biggest problems that luxury goods manufactures have is controlling their image. It is difficult for many brands to maintain glamour of product but also price it so many people can afford to own it. Ralph Lauren isan expert at selling at manyprice points but all the while maintaining his iconic look. He manages this by selling different lines of clothing. His least expensive collection is Polo Jean; this line sells products that are almostexclusively retail forunder $100. His most exclusive brand, Purple Label, sells ties for over $200 and outerwear that starts above $2000. Ralph Lauren makes all his customers feel like they are buying a part of glamorous lifestyle regardless of how much money they have to spend.
Use Product Placements
Ralph Lauren was not always a world famous brand. The company worked hard to put itself in the spotlight with product placements. One of the company’s early successful product placements was in the 1974 film adaptation of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s “The Great Gatsby.” It would not be possible for the brand to find a showcase that better embodies the Ralph Lauren lifestyle.
Ralph Lauren created product placement through his own ads. Before Ralph Lauren mens clothes were displayed on boring department stores mannequins. Advertisements sold clothes by showing how clothes fit on a man. Ralph Lauren did all this but also managed to improve on it by telling a story. Ralph Lauren wanted his store windows and print advertising to tell a story. He worked to transport customers to Fifth Avenue in Manhattan, a Polo Club in the Hamptons, a Safari in Africa or a Mountain ranch in Colorado. Ralph Lauren makes his clothes an essential part of living a beautiful and glamorous lifestyle.
Make a Dream World Accessible
Ralph Lauren not only creates a glamorous and perfect world, he invites us into it. His genius is opening doors to unimaginably lovely places. A Ralph Lauren Polo shirt is not just a garment but a magic carpet that takes us right to the middle of secret, elite and privileged places.
The underlying strategy of the Ralph Lauren brands is to sell a dream. And do it by creating a world that is described in great and accurate detail. His showrooms and advertising are a way of giving consumers a vision of this special, beautiful world. Unlike many fairytale places it is actually obtainable. The genius of Ralph Lauren is to make it clear that your gateway into that lovely world is by purchasing and using Ralph Lauren products.