THE “HIGH GOAL”
U. S. Polo Assn.’s
Last year, J. Michael Prince, president and CEO of
USPA Global Licensing Inc., took his creative team
on a field trip to the high-profile Aventura Mall in
Miami. USPAGL is the exclusive worldwide licensor for U. S. Polo Assn., the official multibillion-dollar brand of
the USPA. Prince went on this pilgrimage for creative inspiration, hoping to infuse new ideas into the brand’s retail fleet of
1, 100 stores in 180 countries. Expecting to see innovative product, cool technology, and an amazing consumer experience, the
excursion was almost a bust—with one exception. Prince realized he was inspired by the fact that he was so uninspired, as he
recently explained from his global headquarters in West Palm
Beach. “We experienced store after store with excess inventory,
few customers, and unmotivated staff. We realized that few
brands were actually trying to improve the overall consumer
experience in their brick-and-mortar stores.”
CREATING AN EXPERIENCE
Recently recognized as the fourth largest global sports licensor,
trailing only the NFL, NBA, and Major League Baseball. U.S.
Polo Assn. has developed a road map that targets $2.5 billion in
global sales and includes 500 new stores. Prince and his team
have been working on an innovative concept, dubbed the “high
goal” energy store. High goal refers to the sport’s most elevated
game experience, in which the top players ride the best horses
on the finest polo fields in the world. These new stores will
target millennials in key metropolitan settings designed to
engage consumers around the world with U. S. Polo Assn. and
the sport of polo through innovative product and technology.
Features include a grid of LCD screens live-streaming polo
games, a mechanical rotating wheel of bright apparel, along
with other interactive components that bring the exhilarating
sport to life for shoppers. “When you watch polo, the players
are pumped, the horses are fast, the ball is flying 100 miles per
hour, and the crowd is full of excitement and energy,” Prince
says. “We want that same amazing experience to transcend
into a retail environment.”
The first high-goal store will open in Hangzhou City, China,
which is recognized as one of the world’s innovation hubs,
followed by stores in Istanbul, Mumbai, and Ne w York in 2020.
Each location will occupy 1,000 square feet. “Big stores can feel
empty and lifeless,” Prince notes. “The smaller concept enables
consumers and staff to engage in a more intimate way.”
High-engagement components within each store will
include a selfie wall and full-length interactive mirror for try-
ing out new styles. Eventually, Prince plans to install product
customization as well as virtual-reality stations that will bring
polo’s fast and furious atmosphere to life.
Prince is expanding in a retail market that is in flux, with a
record number of brick-and-mortar stores shuttered in 2019.
Retailers are searching for new ways to both combat—and
embrace—online shopping. Fueling industry optimism is a
shift toward “pre-tail,” the idea that shoppers can visit a store,
engage in experiential elements, see how items look, then order
them online. And in an unprecedented move, U. S. Polo Assn.
plans to even bring some of the high-goal flagship components
into many of the brand’s outlet stores to provide outlet consumers with a similar experience.
According to Prince, “Whether it is seeing the sport of polo
for the first time, posting a social media snap, or purchasing
one of our bright-colored polo shirts, our goal is to revolutionize the retail consumer experience through U. S. Polo Assn. and
its authentic connection to the sport of polo.”
The Sport of Polo Revolutionizes Retail
U.S. POLO ASSN. IS CONFIDENT THAT THE SPORT’S FAST AND FURIOUS ACTION WILL CATCH ON WITH GLOBAL
CONSUMERS IN THE BRAND’S NE W INTERACTIVE AND SPORT-INSPIRED “HIGH GOAL” ENERGY STORES.
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