Ralph Lauren builds on its ‘next great chapter’ with diversity-focused campaign

Glossy – Ralph Lauren has always been associated with a certain image: a preppy, WASP-y style that has remained relatively unchanged for years. But its latest global campaign, which launched Thursday, sees it emphasizing diversity and inclusivity as the brand seeks to reinvent its image and its business strategy.

With the refocus, the brand has also embraced things like streetwear, both through the adoption of the drop model and in some of the brand’s high-profile collaborations, including one with British streetwear brand Palace that was named one of the best collaborations of 2018 by Highsnobiety.

Ralph Lauren has also shifted its attention to the international stage. After closing several stores in the U.S., including its Fifth Avenue flagship store in April last year, the brand has been actively rolling out stores in China, opening “one a week,” said Ralph Lauren CEO Patrice Louvet, who joined the company in 2017. (Ralph Lauren still plays an active role in brand decision-making.) The brand currently has around 80 stores in China.

“China represent about a third of all personal luxury goods purchases globally and is one of the fastest growing markets for luxury retail,” said David Naumann, vp of marketing at Boston Retail Partners. “Fashion brands can’t ignore the lucrative Asian markets, as it represents tremendous growth opportunities. Ralph Lauren can maximize profits by closing underperforming U.S. stores and using the capital to open stores in Asia that have the potential to garner significantly more revenue.”

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Tmall won over luxury brands in 2018

Glossy – Tmall, the massive Chinese e-commerce platform, has positioned itself as the gateway between brands from outside of China and Chinese consumers, who are increasingly some of the most valuable and lucrative audiences for luxury brands. Over the course of 2018, Tmall’s effort to lure more luxury brands was proven successful as an accelerating cadre of luxury brands joined the program, culminating with Bottega Veneta, which joined the program on Tuesday.

In August 2017, Tmall launched the Luxury Pavilion, a platform for luxury brands outside of China to sell their goods to Chinese customers without having to build their own infrastructure. At launch, there were only 17 brands on the Luxury Pavilion. Now, just over a year later, that number has snowballed to a total of 82. In the week spanning the end of November and the beginning of December, the program gained two new, big names in the luxury space: Ermenegildo Zegna and Valentino. Tmall celebrated the launch of Valentino by debuting its new computer-generated “digital influencer,” Noonoouri, wearing a Valentino outfit.

“Many Western luxury brands are joining Tmall’s Luxury Pavillion, and for good reasons,” said David Naumann, vp of marketing at BRP, retail consulting firm. “The China market is the single largest market for luxury goods in the world, as it currently accounts for a third of all luxury goods worldwide, and that percentage will continue to increase. Luxury brands can’t ignore this massive market. Tmall’s Luxury Pavillion is the top online location for China’s luxury shoppers.”

Naumann pointed to recent stats, like online sales accounting for 25 percent of all luxury sales by 2025, as evidence that Tmall is in a good place to capture more luxury sales.

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