Luxury brands, QR codes and cell phone commerce

If you have any interest in e-tailing, e-marketing, marketing technology or fashion, check this out. An article in last Friday’s edition of Women’s Wear Daily (WWD)—the must-read daily newspaper of the fashion industry—announced that Polo Ralph Lauren is about to embark on selling its products through cell phones (presumably in the U.S.).

“Taking its philosophy of “merchan-tainment” to a new level, Polo Ralph Lauren Corp. is breaking into mobile commerce — m-commerce — incorporating technology that allows shoppers to buy Polo merchandise from their cell phones.
To realize this, the company is incorporating Quick Response Technology codes in its ads, mailers and store windows, which potential shoppers can scan and download on their camera phones. Once scanned, the site allows a mobile phone user to enter the world of Ralph Lauren — not just by offering the limited edition 2008 U.S. Open collection, classic polo and oxford shirts, chinos, and even the Ricky bag, but also with exclusive video content and a style guide.”

A bit further on, the article goes on to say that “Polo is the first luxury retailer to tap into the QR technology, which is already popular in Asia and Europe.”

As the piece is written, readers could be forgiven for assuming that Ralph Lauren is somehow out in front of other luxury brands when it comes to cell phone e-tailing and technology adoption. But truth be told, here in Japan, a number of luxury brands have been operating cell phone commerce sites for some time. Open any of Japan’s top fashion magazines this month and you’ll see that Gucci is using QR codes prominently in its advertising right now—and is using a customized code design, the latest trend amongst design sensitive brands.

If you’re new to QR codes, they (and other emerging technologies), can be used by marketers in a number of ground-breaking ways. To see how they’re being leveraged as powerful marketing tools in Japan, read this Japan Marketing News article from early 2007.

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