Ralph Lauren has launched a series of virtual experiences in response to pandemic-driven shopping behavior, including digital replicas of four of its brick-and-mortar stores, an augmented reality (AR) experience via Snapchat as well as a shoppable virtual game on its website and Facebook Messenger’s Instant Games.
Ralph Lauren saw promising results when it tested a virtual version of its Beverly Hills store this fall—virtual foot traffic was 10 times higher than the number of people who would have visited the storefront, reports WWD. In response, the brand created virtual versions of its stores in New York, Paris and Hong Kong. Shoppers can virtually walk around in each store, where current-season items and vintage pieces are available to buy.
The brand has also teamed with Snapchat to create a series of AR experiences that users can unlock by scanning the Polo Pony logo from apparel, printed materials, digital executions, shopping bags and ads. David Lauren, vice chairman and chief innovation officer, told WWD that it took eight months to develop the technology.
The AR initiative follows the success of the brand’s Snapchat-enabled Bitmoji Collection, which enabled consumers to mix and match branded garments inspired by real-life designs. In Q2, over 10 million users dressed their Bitmoji in Ralph Lauren and tried on the collection over 250 million times.
The third component to Ralph Lauren’s digital holiday offerings is a shoppable virtual game called The Holiday Run, in which the brand’s signature Polo Bear races to physical Ralph Lauren stores worldwide, discovering and collecting new products. Fans around the world can play the game on Ralph Lauren’s website or through Messenger’s Instant Games. Next month, Ralph Lauren will bring the game to life via a live Twitch event featuring major gamers from the UK, France and Germany
Ralph Lauren’s heavy digital investment comes as the company has been struggling with financial fallout from the pandemic. Its Q1 performance update revealed a dip in sales, with North America revenue seeing the biggest decline at 77 percent, followed by a 67 percent drop in Europe and a 34 percent decrease in Asia. Revenue plummeted 66 percent year-over-year to $487.5 million.
In September, the company, which has 530 stores, announced it would cut 15 percent of its global workforce.
To help stay afloat, it started offering virtual client selling and appointment booking, buy online pick up in-store, curbside pickup, mobile checkout and contactless payments.
Its digital efforts paid off in Q2, when email campaigns with predictive artificial intelligence and high-reach paid social media helped add more than 1 million new customers to its direct-to-consumer platforms alone.