Is Ralph Lauren moving away from luxury?
Ralph Lauren has always been associated with luxury and privilege and it’s polo player logo has been synonymous with dressing elites around the world.
Since the American-based fashion giant announced earlier this month it was to close a significant amount of stores and let go of 1,000 employees there have been plenty of questions as to the brand’s new strategy and direction.
Bottom line sales, specifically a drop in profits, have led Ralph Lauren to restructure its portfolio of labels and bring the company back on course. According to MediaRadar, a multi media sales intelligence tracker, the answer as to the company’s direction can be found in the initiatives of its CEO, Stefan Larsson.
Industry insiders speculate that Larsson’s history at discount retailers Old Navy and H&M are key to understanding its latest moves. MediaRadar analyzed Ralph Lauren’s advertising before and after Larsson’s start data shows two key course changes that shed some light on their new strategic direction:
High end advertising dropped from 55 to 26 percent
First there is a significant move away from luxury. While total marketing investment level didn’t change over one year, there has been a decided move away from supporting their luxury lines. In the first five months of 2015, fully 55 percent of marketing was for Purple Label and Ralph Lauren Collection, the company’s most expensive, most luxurious lines. Just one year later however, that allocation has been slashed to 26 percent. Instead, the lower-priced Polo and eponymous Ralph Lauren lines are the focus. Together they now represent 64 percent of all ads.
The second indication of new strategy is tightening product categories. In the five months from January to May, 2015, Ralph Lauren marketed 29 specific product lines. One year later this list was nearly halved to 14. The brands continuing with the most emphasis are Ralph Lauren, Polo, Lauren, and Denim & Supply. Smaller lines like Chaps and RLX didn’t get marketing support at all.
This data shows a key pivot from the company as the epitome of luxury designer wear to a focus on affordable fashion. For Larsson, this is a turnkey positioning solution, since he helped revitalize H&M and Old Navy to the powerhouse brands they are today.