Polo Ralph Lauren

Introduction

Polo Ralph Lauren is a clothing company started by Ralph Lauren and specializes in semi-formal casual wear for men, women and children (not as a unique specialization because the company also produces accessories, fragrances and other home clothing, such as home towels).

Its products are however high-end and are well known throughout America and certain parts of Europe and Asia (Kent, 2003, p. 111). The company’s impact in the American fashion industry is profound, and this is the reason most of the company’s products are well known throughout the country. The company’s headquarter is in Manhattan, New York, but it has several outlets in Europe (in locations such as London) and Asia (in locations such as Japan).

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Polo Ralph Lauren is an appropriate company for this analysis because it has been in existence for a long time (since 1967) and therefore, there is an immense body of information regarding its strategies and goals.

Emphasis on strategies and goals is made in this case because this study focuses on how the company’s current strategies are designed to meet the company’s goals and objectives. As mentioned earlier in this study, Polo Ralph Lauren was started in 1967 by Ralph Lauren, who only specialized in men’s wear, and more specifically, men’s ties (Kent, 2003, p. 111).

The first store was opened in Manhattan, but in 1971, the company ventured into women’s clothing by starting another store in Beverly Hills, California (Kent, 2003, p. 111). In the early 80s, the company opened its first global store out of America (London), and by 1997, the company had already been listed in the New York stock exchange.

In 2009, the company boasted of having more than 160 stores around the globe, with more than 24,000 employees in 31 countries (Wright, 2011). The company’s current threats are: competition, increase in counterfeit goods and the shaky world economy, which is significantly affecting the company’s sales because recent global financial downturns have eroded customer’s buying power, and more especially, the demand for high-end goods.

Strategy and Management

Polo Ralph Lauren’s business strategy is a mix of several strategies aimed at improving the company’s brand presence in the global map, and strengthening the competitiveness of the brand. These strategies are intertwined in a flexible brand strategy, developed along the lines of retail, wholesale and licensing, although the brand has still remained true to its identity) (Lauren, 2011, p. 1).

The company’s mission statement is to “Redefine American style, provide quality products, create worlds, and invite people to take part in our dreams” (ChaCha Search, Inc., 2011, p. 1). The company’s strategic goals are however firmly designed to expand the company’s global presence because one core pillar of the company’s strategy is to continue building and extending the Polo Ralph Lauren brand, by improving the brand’s unique luxury design and quality.

The company also expects to expand its brand strategy by focusing on its advertising and marketing strategies, and through this effort, the company expects to empower its retail stores to further uphold the brand strengthening strategy. This strategy is expected to be further complemented by excellent customer service, merchandize mixing, and visual presentation, which are meant to attract more customers and build on a strong brand strategy, designed to come up with new products (Lauren, 2011, p. 1).

The second pillar in the company’s core strategy is to focus on specialty brand retail, where brand differentiation and position stand out to elevate the Polo Ralph Lauren brand above the competitors’.

The company’s third pillar is closely associated with the first, because it is based on expanding the brand’s international presence. This strategy is based on expanding the brand’s operations through new product developments, sensitive to the host’s culture.

The company’s managerial structure is also a strong pillar of the company’s operations. At the top of the managerial structure is the company’s chief executive office, assisted by the company’s vice president.

The company’s chief executive officer has always been Polo Ralph Lauren and since the brand was personally built, the company has been subject to a hierarchical structure of management, where most of the decisions are made by the CEO (Lauren, 2011, p. 1).

The management team is also comprised of other highly qualified individuals, with an impeccable academic qualification and sufficient experience in the fashion industry.

Employee recruitment and selection is undertaken by an independent human resource team, but the employees undergo a thorough vetting process to assess the potential candidates’ experience in the fashion world, and how best they can be of value to the organization. A great part of the hiring process is normally undertaken online and candidates are sourced in the same manner.

After selection, employees are taken through a training and development program, where they are oriented with how the organization works. The company’s internship program is also another strategy the company uses to nurture new talent through training and development.

Market Mix

Polo Ralph Lauren’s marketing mix entails the company’s distribution, promotion, competitive and product and price strategies. As mentioned earlier in this study, the company majorly deals in high-end clothing products for men, women and children, but on the side, the company also produces fragrances accessories, towels, and similar house ware materials, which are of exemplary quality, but priced relatively higher than normal brands.

The company’s distribution strategy is characterized by a strong emphasis on the company’s retail outlets, although some of the company’s products are also moved through the wholesale channel. Depending on the market in question, the company majorly uses the two strategies.

With regards to the company’s promotion strategy, a lot of emphasis is laid on advertising and branding, as opposed to public relations, direct selling or similar sales approaches. However, there is also a strong emphasis by the company to enrich its customer experience by guaranteeing high quality customer services.

This is the core strategy used to retain its customers. However, the company majorly relies on its advertising and branding strategies to attract customers. Polo Ralph Lauren’s major competitor in the high-end clothing business is Louis Vuitton. Louis Vuitton’s strategy is also focused on international expansion, but its focus is majorly centered on reaching out to the growing number of wealthy customers in emerging markets such as China and India (Bloomberg, 2007).

Financial Analysis

Polo Ralph Lauren’s financial performance has been on a positive increasing trend, considering the company has experienced an increase in revenues over the past two years. With regards to the net income, Wright (2011) affirms that, “The fiscal 2011 net income was $568 million, or $5.75 per diluted share, compared to net income of $480 million, or $4.73 per diluted share, for Fiscal 2010” (p. 2).

When the company’s performance, in terms of net revenues, for the fourth quarter of the final 2011 fiscal period, compared to the same fourth quarter fiscal period, in the year 2010, it is affirmed that, there was a significant increase in net revenue of 7% from ($1.3 billion to $1.4billion) (Wright, 2011).

The company’s profits are determined using the above parameters, it is affirmed that, there was a 3% increase in profit from the year 2010 to 2011. The company’s stock price is also on the upward trend, with the year 2011 witnessing an increased share price margin of +0.09%. The following chart shows the increase in the company’s stock prices:

Source: http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/chart?timeout=10&h=225&w=220&type=gp_line2&range=1y&ticks=RL:US&cfg=ChartBuilderVol_bw.xml&img=png

From this trend, the company seems to be making a positive growth, with regards to its financial performance

Conclusion

Polo Ralph Lauren’s strategies are very diverse and dynamic. Though most of the company’s strategies are forthright and tailored to deal with today’s competitive business environment, the company seems to be significantly diverting from its core mission, which is to improve the American style of life and provide an enriching experience to its customers, by providing high quality goods.

However, the company seems to focus more on an international strategy aimed at increasing its profitability and expanding its brand presence. This seems to be a strategy adopted to overcome its competitive challenges.

In other words, it is more outward oriented, than internally motivated. Regardless, the company seems to be doing well, with regards to its financial performance and marketing mix, because it has been able to experience increased profitability in recent financial postings. Comprehensively, the company needs to put more effort in merging its strategies with its core business goals.

References

Bloomberg. (2007). Louis Vuitton’s Life of Luxury. Retrieved 16 June, 2011, from:
http://www.businessweek.com/magazine/content/07_32/b4045419.htm

ChaCha Search, Inc. (2011). What Is Polo Ralph Lauren’s Mission Statement? Retrieved 16 June, 2011, from: http://www.chacha.com/question/what-is-polo-ralph-lauren%27s-mission-statement

Kent, J. (2003). Business Builders in Fashion. New York: The Oliver Press, Inc.

Lauren, R. (2011). Growth Strategies. Retrieved 16 June, 2011, from:
http://phx.corporate-ir.net/phoenix.zhtml?c=65933&p=irol-growthstrategies

Wright, K. (2011). Polo Ralph Lauren Corporation Reports Financial Results for Fourth

Quarter & Full Year 2011 – NYSE:RL. Retrieved 16 June, 2011, from:
http://www.usamarketnews.com/major-business-news/3075/polo-ralph-lauren-corporation-reports-financial-results-for-fourth-quarter-full-year-2011-nyserl.html