Carol Spieckerman's Brain On ... Ralph Lauren's Relevance

In her latest contribution as a Retail Wire panelist, Carol lauds Ralph Lauren for keeping it real and relevant.

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Here's what she had to say ... Ralph Lauren is the quintessential global lifestyle brand(s) and it has enjoyed an enviable run of success through retail's roughest waters. The company has done a fantastic job of mixing tradition with modernity (although I still see Burberry as setting the standard in that regard), and its carefully-curated brand portfolio addresses multiple generations and demographics without (too much) cannibalization. You won't find digital touch screens and DJs at the flagship Rhinelander mansion re-do on Madison Avenue, for example, yet you can design your own Rugby shirt on the brand's website. The next generation (David) is ensuring that the brand portfolio stays head of the digital times.

The only major misstep seems to have been the company's creation of its Global Brand Concepts division a few years ago which promised to leverage RL's extensive design, production and marketing capabilities to create Lauren-esque brands for retailers. When GBC launched its first (and to-date only) lifestyle brand with J.C. Penney (American Living), it seemed to be Penney's big brand move but alas, many more came after (including its mega-deal with Liz Claiborne), diluting the brand's impact. American Living also fell victim to Penney's on sale-out-of-the-starting-gate antics which killed the value proposition from the get-go (too bad they didn't get in post-Ron Johnson, but I digress). Ralph may not have one upped Li & Fung on that one but the rest of his record speaks for itself.

I see many good years to come.

Planning your 2012 sales, marketing or licensing event? Want to schedule a meeting with Carol to discuss your 2012 retail and brand strategy? Carol is currently scheduling meetings in the following cities:

New York area

Denver, CO

Atlanta, GA

Charlotte area, NC

Las Vegas, NV

Berlin, Germany

Contact Carol directly at for details.