Ideas For Lauren's Polo
Daya Fields (left) and Petra Gospodnetic spent last semester on a volunteer marketing project for the luxury brand Polo Ralph Lauren. Photo / Patrick McGarvey
Last semester, four MIT Sloan students found a way to bring some of Polo Ralph Lauren's many Internet shoppers back to the high-end designer's retail store: They devised an interactive kiosk that remembers consumers and addresses them personally.
"It is a new kind of customer experience," said Petra Gospodnetic, a Sloan student and one of four M.B.A. candidates who worked for Ralph Lauren during their spring semester as part of MarketLab, a program run by the Sloan Marketing Club.
MarketLab students work in teams on marketing-related consulting projects for partner companies. The students gain experience and sponsorship money or academic credit.
This was the first year that Polo Ralph Lauren (PRL) retailers, a luxury line of clothing, fragrance and more, signed on to be part of the MarketLab. Jeffrey Steinberg (M.B.A. 1991) is the vice president of database marketing and the chief privacy officer for the label.
"It is great that Sloan alumni come back to work with Sloan students. It was a very encouraging environment," said Daya Fields, another member of the PRL team. "It says a lot about the Sloan program".
The team of four, which also included Sloan students Marshall Einhorn and Priya Gandhi, was tasked with finding a way to use interactive kiosk-stations featuring touch screens and computer technology to draw more customers to the store.
The MIT Sloan team was asked to focus on the development of a transactional kiosk that would increase customer loyalty, provide a source of entertainment for customers and increase sales.
The team traveled to a number of sites, including New York, Chicago, Rhode Island and Boston. They looked at Polo Ralph Lauren stores, but they also looked at the way different kinds of stores used kiosk technology.
"We watched people at kiosks in stores that sell groceries, discount items, luxury cars, home decor, office supplies, electronics and more," said Fields. "We gathered a lot of information by visiting sites".
They looked at the size of the kiosks, their locations in the store, their capabilities, even the way they blended in with the surrounding motif. After extensive research, the team summarized its findings and presented its recommendations to senior management at PRL in New York. Their suggestions included a wide range of ideas, including the use of "virtual clothing models" (VCM) that the customer can build at the kiosk. The VCMs would simulate each customer's body shape so he or she can "virtually" see how selected clothing styles would look.
"It cuts out a lot of the try-on time," explained Gospodnetic. Additional suggestions included using the kiosk to highlight the fall line during the summer, when only summer clothes are in the store. To build brand loyalty, the team suggested a point system that would allow customers to earn shopping points every time they purchase from the Ralph Lauren family of brands. Customers could use the kiosks to check their points.
Overall, the PRL senior management was very encouraging, said Fields and Gospodnetic. In fact, the PRL brand has incorporated many of their suggestions into a kiosk in one of its retail locations.
Posted by: Edwin Source