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Ralph Lauren brings QR codes to the U.S.

I was in NYC today for a few meetings and picked up a New York Magazine at the news stand in Grand Central and on the back page I found a Ralph Lauren Polo ad with a huge QR code in the corner.

For those who don’t know QR stand for “Quick Response” and is a square shaped label that looks like a cross between a bar code and crossword puzzle. They have been around since 1994 and are used a lot in China and Japan for everything from advertising, c-commerce (cell commerce), train tickets and buying products in vending machines .

I was intrigued with the ad since I have been playing with QR codes for a while now and I did some research and found out that Ralph Lauren launched this new campaign and new store windows here in NYC today. So I had to head over to the store and check it out. The store windows have the usual set-ups with mannequins sporting different outfits but each one has it’s own QR code. There is also a large explanation of what the codes are and how to get the software that will let you read them. Once you have the software installed and photograph one of the codes it will pull up the item on their mobile site and you can buy it on the spot f you want. You can see a sample of how the mobile site looks and works here.

This isn’t the first time they have done something like this as about two years ago they did a large touch screen window in New York and London. Consumers could browse the clothes and if they liked an outfit they could enter their contact info and would be contacted by e-mail or phone the next day to securely enter their payment information and arrange shipping. This newer version obviously cuts out the day wait the middle step by letting you get the instant gratification of buying the outfit while standing on a street in New York. I applaud them for taking a proactive position to be the first brand to finally bring this technology to the U.S. even if it is years later than it should be. This is one of those pieces of marketing that isn’t going to generate a sales spike but it does spike the aware of your brand, the perception of that brand as an innovator and it gets people to like me to go to their store.

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