Polo Ralph Lauren and Tommy Hilfiger are two iconic high-end fashion brands that operate internationally, which has made them subject to Adaptation (Customisation) Globalisation. This indicates that there is a varied marketing mix that changes with local preferences between countries, however the products and services are similar. The prestigious quality of the products that both brands produce is renowned and is a considerable strength respectively, however each brand has weaknesses that can be overcome by targeted communication and marketing strategies.
Cross-Cultural Context becomes especially significant when Globalisation within an organisation begins to occur due to human, technological, and economical rationale (John Fien, 2010). Polo Ralph Lauren and Tommy Hilfiger are global brands that have global websites, which can be customised to suit each country. This reinforces brand relationships between the company and their audience, and also makes their products attainable and appealing to a larger international demographic on the basis that more customers can understand and relate to the content that is being marketed to them.
For example, when the “Change Country” menu is accessed on the Ralph Lauren Global website, the customer is able to select from a range of countries in order to view specific campaigns, prices, and languages. Ralph Lauren International has a particular focus on the “Polo” Range, a variety of casual mens sportswear, which embodies high brand salience and imagery. (see Fig. 1).
Alternatively, the Ralph Lauren China website has a far more simplified and minimal layout and are instead driving the “Leading Man” Campaign, which prioritises tailored suits and features Japanese actor and dancer Ryōhei Kurosawa, known by the stage name Akira (see Fig. 2). “Leading Man” is a witty double entendre that utilises Akira’s acting career, in conjunction with the brand imagery that being a “leading man” evokes in relation to the style and fashion that Ralph Lauren represents.
Tommy Hilfiger Global has a similar layout and approach, however their target demographic was a younger audience. The bulk of the webpage is consumed by a soundless video of Gigi and Bella Hadid, Winnie Harlow and a plethora of younger, fresh-faced models with large social media followings modelling the TommyXGigi Campaign, (see Fig. 3). Tommy Hilfiger Italy, however, has a primary focus on intimates and outfit construction (see Fig. 4).
According to the Customer-Based Brand Equity Model, these are key factors that contribute to brand
According to the Customer-Based Brand Equity Model, these are key factors that contribute to brand identity, brand meaning, brand response, and brand relationship. The identity of these two iconic brands is conveyed through the layout, accessibility, content, and logos that are represented on the respective websites. There is a certain elegance and poise on the Ralph Lauren website, which contrasts with the vibrancy and energetic dynamic of the Tommy Hilfiger website.
In spite of designing and producing similar products, each website evokes different brand meaning in the sense that Ralph Lauren is an extremely refined high-end fashion label aimed at men, women, and families, who present as very civilised and polished. Over recent years, Tommy Hilfiger has taken their brand narrative in a different direction to become a label that embodies a younger market of vivid and fashionably casual clothing.
The consumer gravitates towards these brands because of the quality and rapport that they have established over the years. Ralph Lauren globally made over 7 billion U.S. dollars in revenue in 2016, making it the ninth-biggest apparel retailer in the world in 2015 according to Apparel Magazine. Consumers are responding considerably well to the brand’s marketing strategies and the quality of the upscale lifestyle items. Tommy Hilfiger made a similar revenue in the same year of 6.6 billion U.S. dollars, and it’s possible that spike occurred that year due to the launch of TommyXGigi, hence the reason why that campaign is still being driven in 2018.
The brands are both constantly staying in touch and maintaining brand relationships with their audiences through constant posts on social media platforms, such as Instagram and Twitter. These posts are in relation to upcoming product launches, events, collaborations, and sales. These platforms bridge the gap between brand and consumer and help audiences feel closer to the brand and its ambassadors. (see Fig. 5 and 6)
Branding ultimately boils down to “adding emotional meaning to a product or service, a strong layer of emotional affinity, or identification between brand and constituent” (Bergstrom, Blumenthol & Crothers, 2002, p.134). While producing similar products but marketing to different demographics, each brand has a very unique brand narrative. Ralph Lauren places a key focus on the way in which the past has impacted the brand presently, and what the future holds for both them and the consumer. This is encapsulated in their Instagram bio: “Iconic American style, rewritten for today”. They emphasise the importance of consumer insights and very inclusively orbit around the role of their customers in their successes and profit (see Fig. 7). Tommy Hilfiger alternatively focuses on promoting their sub-brands and takes a more retail marketing approach by highlighting their broad distribution network and their enormous revenue (see Fig. 8).
Overall, Ralph Lauren’s values align with their brand narrative, and their products are targeted extremely efficiently towards the larger portion of their demographic, which is their male audiences. However, on both the global website as well as the Chinese website, the dominant advertisements were for their menswear ranges, whether that was the Polo Range or the “Leading Man” campaign. In order to facilitate economic and demographic growth within the business, it would be in their best interests to more actively promote their women’s and children’s ranges, and perhaps even represent teenagers and millennials, in order to more efficiently reach that segment of their audience.
According to the official Tommy Hilfiger Instagram bio, their intended dynamic is “fresh, fun, [and] sharp”, and this is translated through their social media presence, inclusive advertisement campaigns, and invigorated brand ambassadors. In spite of this, their brand narrative isn’t an accurate representation of these values and instead is based around driving sales and marketing without having a primary focus on their audience and in order to cultivate financial success, the Company Overview should be reassessed to prioritise their audience.
Below are SWOT Analyses that outline the Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats that are present in both brands.
- Bergstrom, A., Blumenthal, D. and Crothers, S. (2002). Why Internal Branding Matters: The Case of Saab. Corporate Reputation Review, 5(2-3), pp.133-142.
- Fien, J. (2010). Module 18: Globalisation. [online] Unesco.org. Available at: http://www.unesco.org/education/tlsf/mods/theme_c/mod18.html [Accessed 20 Mar. 2018].
- www.statista.com. (2018). Topic: Ralph Lauren Statistics. [online] Available at: https://www.statista.com/topics/1864/ralph-lauren/ [Accessed 20 Mar. 2018].
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