Lacoste's Marketing Strategies in the US

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Case Details:

Case Code : MKTG132
Case Length : 14 Pages
Period : 2001-2006
Organization : - Lacoste SA
Pub Date : 2006
Teaching Note :Not Available
Countries : USA
Industry : Apparel

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"To head Lacoste was a dream come true. The brand is so powerful because of its heritage." 1

- Robert Siegel, CEO, Lacoste USA, in 2005.


In the 1920s, René Lacoste (René), a French tennis champion, created a white, short-sleeves tennis shirt for use on the tennis court. The shirt instantly became a hit and revolutionized tennis fashion. Until then, tennis players wore starched, long-sleeved shirts that were made of woven fabric. In contrast, René's shirt was made of a more comfortable, light cotton fabric called "jersey petit piqué". Later on, René set up the company La Chemise Lacoste (LCL) and began manufacturing and marketing these shirts under the brand name 'Lacoste'. The shirt had the logo of a green crocodile2 embroidered on it. These shirts came to be known as 'polo shirts'.

Over the years, the Lacoste brand and its crocodile logo became synonymous with polo shirts, all over the world. The Lacoste brand became established as a premium sportswear brand. When the Lacoste brand was introduced in the US through a licensing agreement in the early 1950s, it quickly became popular, going on to become a premium sportswear brand for men. In 1969, LCL sold its US rights to the Lacoste brand to General Mills3 (GM). GM owned this brand until the mid-1980s. Under GM, the brand began to lose its appeal and its premium brand image in the US.

In the early 1990s, LCL bought back the US rights to the brand and tried to restore the brand's image in the US. However, by this time, the company was facing stiff competition from other premium brands like Ralph Lauren.4

In fact, the polo shirts created by Ralph Lauren had become more popular than the Lacoste polo shirts. In 2001, Robert Siegel (Siegel) took over as the CEO of LCL's US business, Lacoste USA. He undertook a variety of marketing initiatives which helped re-establish Lacoste as a popular and youthful luxury brand in the US.

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1] Kristina Dell, "Lacoste's riposte,", September 18, 2005.

2] René was given the nickname 'the crocodile' ('Le Crocodile' or L'Alligator in French) by the American press in the 1920s. Said René, "I was nicknamed "the Alligator" by the American press, after I made a bet with the captain of the French Davis Cup team concerning a suitcase made from alligator skin. He promised to buy it for me if I won a very important match for our team. The public must have been fond of this nickname which conveyed the tenacity I displayed on the tennis courts, never letting go of my prey." (Source:

3] General Mills is a Minneapolis, US based consumer food products company founded in 1856. It is the owner of such popular brands as Betty Crocker, Pillsbury, Yoplait, etc.

4] Ralph Lauren is a noted American fashion designer, and the creator of fashion labels such as Ralph Lauren Collection, Purple Label, Polo Ralph Lauren and others.


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