Luxury Institute News

May 12, 2017

‘The unfortunate thing about Macy’s’: Just about everything

The Washington Post
By: Abha Bhattarai
May 11, 2017

Macy’s, it seems, can’t catch a break.

The beleaguered retail chain, which has been aggressively closing stores in recent months, announced more bad news Thursday: Sales were down in the first quarter of the year, leading to a 39 percent drop in profits.

As a result, the company’s stock price plunged more than 16 percent Thursday, to its lowest level since 2011.

Macy’s steady decline, analysts say, is the result of a number of factors, including the demise of shopping malls, as well as competition from online stores and off-price retailers such as TJ Maxx. Another issue: The company tends to sell run-of-the-mill products that shoppers can find more easily — and often more cheaply — elsewhere.

“Here’s the unfortunate thing about Macy’s: There’s nothing that sets it apart,” said Milton Pedraza, chief executive of the Luxury Institute, a New York-based research firm. “It’s crowded, it’s messy, the service is poor. The business model of Macy’s is no longer justifiable in a world dominated by Amazon and Walmart.”

The company’s woes come as other longtime retailers like Sears and JCPenney face similar headwinds. Americans are increasingly skipping the shopping mall in favor of buying online, which means department stores are left with hordes of inventory and pricey real estate. Macy’s last year announced plans to close 100 of its stores, and analysts said more closures may be in the works if the company’s fortunes don’t change soon.

“There are so many structural issues here that it’s going to take years for all of these challenges to play out,” said Sucharita Mulpuru, a retail analyst for Forrester Research. “This is a company that is fundamentally tied to shopping malls, and I don’t know that there’s any hope of rejuvenation there.”

After a dismal holiday season, 2017 hasn’t turned out to be much better. Same-store sales — a closely-watched industry metric — fell 4.6 percent, marking the ninth consecutive quarter of declines. Profit, meanwhile, plunged nearly 40 percent to $70 million from $115 million a year earlier.

“These are unusual and challenging times for retail, especially for mall-based department stores,” Jeff Gennette, who took over as Macy’s chief executive in March, said in a Thursday morning call with Wall Street investors. “We don’t have our head in the sand as to the significant challenges we face in getting the business growing again. We certainly don’t have all the answers yet, but we are working on them with a sense of urgency.”

To that end, he said, the company is revamping its fine jewelry and women’s shoe departments, adding furniture and mattresses to 60 locations, and forging exclusive partnerships with brands like DKNY. It is also planning to expand its buy-online, pick-up-in-store options in an effort to win over shoppers who have grown accustomed to shopping from their homes.

“The consumer has fundamentally changed,” Oliver Chen, a retail analyst for Cowen Group, told CNBC earlier this year. “Customers really expect speed, and the way in which customers shop now, they want their goods immediately.”

The retailer is facing considerable competition online. Amazon.com, which has a private-label clothing brand and is experimenting with custom-fit items, is widely expected to usurp Macy’s as the country’s largest clothing retailer this year. (Jeffrey P. Bezos, Amazon’s founder and chief executive, owns The Washington Post.)

Macy’s, founded nearly 160 years ago in New York, has been a household name for decades. Through the years, it has bought up a number of regional chains, including Hecht’s, Foley’s, Rich’s and Bullock’s, and consolidated them into the country’s largest department store brand. Today, Macy’s parent company also owns the department store Bloomingdale’s and beauty chain Bluemercury.

In recent months, it has also begun experimenting with its own off-price store, Backstage, which it has been quietly opening inside existing locations. The goal, executives said, is to target shoppers who might otherwise go to Nordstrom Rack or TJ Maxx. Two-thirds of Macy’s most loyal customers and 70 percent of millennials shop at off-price retailers each month, Gennette said.

“Macy’s needed to solve for that,” Gennette said, adding that the company is also lowering prices in certain departments, such as housewares. “We’re obviously dropping our prices to be competitive. We don’t want to have like-products that are more expensive online or in our stores than our competitors. That is why we have really pushed to make sure we’re giving customers value.”

But Pedraza, of the Luxury Institute, says that may not be a viable strategy.

“All they’re going to do is dig a deeper hole,” he said. “They may get a little bit of a dead cat bounce that way, but other than that it’s not a long-term strategy.”

In recent years, analysts say, retailers have been engaged in a race to the bottom, offering never-ending promotions and sweeping discounts as a quick fix for long-term problems, and Macy’s has been no exception. But the plan has also backfired: Customers have become trained to expect large-scale discounts on everything they buy, which means retailers are increasingly settling for slimmer profit margins.

“If you missed last week’s sales numbers, you can literally make that up with a promotion this week,” Mulpuru said. “That’s the only short-term lever retailers have. Anything else — new real estate, new inventory, new vendors — is going to take six months to three years, which is why retail has degenerated into a promotional business.”

As Macy’s executives scramble to shore up sales, they are also finding creative ways to bring in extra income. The company has sold off the top floors of certain properties, including stores in Brooklyn and Seattle, to be converted into office space. Its flagship in New York’s Herald Square, which takes up an entire city block, is also being floated by analyst as a potential source of cash.

“The value of that real estate alone is billions of dollars,” Mulpuru said. “This is a company that’s in trouble, but they’ve still got a few aces in their back pocket. It takes a long time to kill a retailer, and I don’t think Macy’s is there, yet.”

Source: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/business/wp/2017/05/11/the-unfortunate-thing-about-macys-just-about-everything/?utm_term=.fec3244ec83b

May 9, 2017

Millennials think Coach is ‘boring.’ Will acquiring Kate Spade help?

The Washington Post
By: Abha Bhattarai
May 8, 2017

Luxury handbag maker Coach is buying rival Kate Spade, a brand known for its whimsical designs and colorful patterns, for $2.4 billion in cash, the companies announced Monday.

The deal would bring together two New York-based brands that have competed in recent years to win over younger customers and build a global presence.

“This deal gives Coach a real toehold into the millennial market,” said Ed Yruma, a retail analyst at KeyBanc Capital Markets.

“Kate Spade can substantially expand in China and Japan — there are so many new opportunities for revenue — and Coach is in a great position to take that on,” said Oliver Chen, an analyst at Cowen Group. “The fact that Coach has transformed itself before gives it credibility to do it again.”

Coach executives have spent three years trying to persuade customers to think beyond its ubiquitous logo bags and outlet stores. To that end, Coach introduced its 1941 luxury label, acquired shoemaker Stuart Weitzman, added more stores abroad and stopped offering as many discounts. The changes seem to be working: After years of stalled growth, profits and sales are up.

Now executives say they would like to make similar changes at Kate Spade — where 60 percent of sales come from millennials — to turn it into a larger, more global brand.

“The lessons we have learned during our own transformation provide a blueprint for guiding our strategy with Kate Spade,” Victor Luis, chief executive of Coach, said in a Monday call with investors. “We believe our extensive experience in opening and operating specialty retail stores can unlock Kate Spade’s largely untapped global growth potential, notably in Asia and Europe.”

Among his first moves, Luis said, would be to cut back on online flash sales and deep discounts on Kate Spade goods.

“These channels are profitable and can drive growth,” he said but warned that “they can lead to brand deterioration over time.”

On Monday, for example, Kate Spade’s website was touting half-priced cross-body satchels for $149 (“today only!”). Another bag, the Cobble Hill Adrien, was discounted 60 percent, from $428 to $171.

“There’s been a vicious cycle of overproducing, then discounting prices and hurting your own brand,” said Milton Pedraza, founder of the Luxury Institute, a New York-based research firm. “It will be painful to dial this back — surgical, even — but it needs to be done if Kate Spade is going to become a lean, efficient brand.”

Coach is paying $18.50 for each share of Kate Spade, a 9 percent premium on Friday’s closing price. The deal is expected to be finalized in the third quarter of this year, and executives say they hope to save $50 million by consolidating parts of the business over the next three years.

But while Wall Street seemed pleased by news of the takeover — shares of Kate Spade rose 8 percent Monday, while shares of Coach were up 5 percent — some customers were wary. Kate Spade shoppers took to social media to voice their misgivings.

“WHY WHY WHY UGH,” a user named HellOnHeelsGirl tweeted in response to the news.

“I find Coach to be boring with their brown, unoriginal bags,” tweeted another. “Kate Spade had color and uniqueness! Bye bye pretty bags.”

Coach executives said Kate Spade will remain an independent brand with its own design, merchandising, marketing and sales teams. In addition to handbags and wallets, the company has expanded into jewelry, children’s clothing and homeware.

Kate Spade founded the eponymous brand with her husband in 1993. (She recently legally changed her name to Kate Valentine to coincide with the launch of her new brand, Frances Valentine). The couple sold a majority stake of Kate Spade to Neiman Marcus in 1999. Liz Claiborne bought the brand for $124 million in 2006. (Liz Claiborne was later renamed Fifth & Pacific and is now called Kate Spade & Co.)

In December, the Wall Street Journal reported that Kate Spade began looking for a potential buyer after shareholders said a larger company could help the brand grow faster. Analysts quickly began speculating that Coach would be the buyer.

“This has long been expected,” said Dana Telsey, chief executive of Telsey Advisory Group, a research and consulting firm in New York. “Being part of a larger organization will obviously get [Kate Spade] going where it wants to, faster.”

And, she added, this is part of Coach’s long-term plan to assemble a collection of brands into what it is calling a “New York-based house of modern luxury.”

“This won’t be the last acquisition for Coach,” Telsey said. “This is part of something much bigger.”

Two years ago, Coach paid $574 million for Stuart Weitzman and hired a former Valentino executive to become the brand’s chief executive. In the quarters since, the luxury shoe brand has turned a steady profit and helped boost its parent company’s earnings.

“With Stuart Weitzman, Coach has demonstrated that it can bring in another brand and nurture it,” said Pedraza of the Luxury Institute. “Now the challenge will be, can they do the same for Kate Spade without watering it down?”

Source: https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/economy/millennials-think-coach-is-boring-will-acquiring-kate-spade-help/2017/05/08/50bd9e9c-33f9-11e7-b4ee-434b6d506b37_story.html?utm_term=.ce0be13f8676

 

High-end bag maker Coach splurges and buys rival Kate Spade

Marketplace
By: Jed Kim
May 8, 2017

Luxury goods maker Coach announced today it’s splurging. It has agreed to buy rival company Kate Spade for $2.4 billion. Coach has already acquired high-end shoe designer Stuart Weitzman, and with the Kate Spade purchase, it seems it’s on a mission to create a stable of luxury brands.

To hear the fully story, including insights from Milton Pedraza, click the link below to access the Marketplace website for the audio story: https://www.marketplace.org/2017/05/08/business/high-end-bag-maker-coach-splurges-and-buys-rival-kate-spade 

April 21, 2017

Ducati Stretches Its Sex Appeal

Departures
By: Brett Berk
April 20, 2017

Can the exclusive Italian superbike manufacturer change its game without sacrificing its reputation? Necessity suggests the brand has no other choice—if it wants to survive.

It came as a surprise to supercar purists when, in 2012, Lamborghini first hinted that it would release an SUV—a vehicle seemingly antithetical to the brand’s aggressively impractical essence. But what may be experienced by some as a sign of brand suicide is actually an act of survival: The performance-oriented Urus is expected to double Lamborghini’s sales once it hits stores by the end of this year. In the eternal quest for increased market share, the automaker known for its fiendish six- and seven-figure supercars has had no choice but to diversify. And in this competitive market, they’re not the only ones.

The 90 year-old Ducati brand is the Lamborghini of motorcycles: exclusive, expensive, performance oriented, and effusively Italian. The brands’ spirits have only become more kindred since 2012, when the motorcycle marque became a wholly owned subsidiary of Lamborghini (itself owned by German carmaker Audi, and part of the Volkswagen Group). And just like its hyper-potent owner, Ducati has begun to dip its toe into the market beyond the high-speed, high-price racing bikes for which its known.

 

Working on a Ducati Multistrada. Courtesy Ducati

 

This year alone, Ducati plans to release eight new bikes across a number of new, more accessible segments the brand has shied away from in the past. New models include the Multistrada 950, a touring “multibike” (January 2017, $13,995); a suite of Scramblers, as part of the two-year-old sub-brand, including the off-roading Desert Sled (March 2017, $11,395) and a 1960s-inspired Café Racer (April 2017, $11,395); and a versatile, entry-level sport/comfort SuperSport (April 2017, $12,995). The XDiavel, a cruiser intended for an aging buyer (someone over 40 in motorcycle-speak), launched in December 2016 ($23,495).

These additions are a far cry from the developments of previous years, which saw R&D dollars generally go to making their superbikes ever faster and more technically advanced. But those investments have had an unforeseen side effect: As progress has allowed high-end motor vehicles to become incredibly fast, safe, and easy to drive, access to the full experience they offer has become almost impossible to achieve on public roads.

 

The Ducati Scrambler Café Racer. Courtesy Ducati

 

“The risk,” says Jason Chinnock, CEO of Ducati North America, “is that the motorcycles, like supercars, get so far advanced that it limits their actual use.” The brand had to adapt or perish—or at least, start collecting cobwebs in the garage. Already the move seems to be paying off. Global sales are up nearly 25 percent, reaching a record 55,450 bikes purchased in 2016. Part of this can be attributed directly to the new offerings, especially the Scramblers, which immediately became Ducati’s bestseller when the line was introduced in 2015. “It was very important for us to able to expand,” Chinnock says. “Now I can say that we cover about 60 percent of all motorcycle segments, versus in the past where we were around 23 percent [with just superbikes].”

“There are always going to be purists out there,” says Milton Pedraza, CEO of luxury research and consulting firm the Luxury Institute. “But I think most of us are willing to accept a more sedate, or different versions of a brand that is still in the same category. The Ducati brand has a sex appeal, besides the performance appeal.”

 

The Ducati XDiavel. Courtesy Ducati

 

Ducati won’t completely leave its past behind: In May, the brand will debut the 1299 Superleggera ($80,000), the fastest twin-cylinder in history (at 215 horsepower) and first-ever street-legal full-carbon fiber structure superbike. But the marque will continue its expansion into existing and incipient categories moving forward. Chinnock hasn’t ruled out a fully electric motorcycle, which, with its instant power, stealthy silence, and eco-friendly approach, may soon garner significant demand. “It’s something that we’ve continuously looked at, but the technology isn’t at the point yet where we can insure the proper experience for our brand,” he says, citing Ducati’s rousing heritage, founded in part on its aggressive and mechanical sound.

One style Ducati fans likely won’t find any time soon, however, is a self-driving motorcycle. “I think that autonomy has an excellent place in the world of transportation, but why people get on a motorcycle is not necessarily to move from point A to point B,” Chinnock says. “We ride to escape, we ride for sport, we ride to clear our head. That’s the difference between entertainment and transportation.”

Source: https://www.departures.com/lifestyle/automobiles/ducati-dips-into-new-motorcycle-segments

January 22, 2017

Luxury Executives Talk About How To Get More Of Your Money

Forbes
Doug Gollan
January 18, 2017

Global luxury from autos to jets to watches, jewelry, home, arts, beauty, and travel is a trillion dollar industry. What will it take for luxury brands to successfully sell and serve you? Top executives gathered in New York today at Luxury Daily’s annual Luxury FirstLook 2017 to discuss best practices in getting you to open your wallet. Below are some highlights.

1. It takes impeccable service. Luxury providers need to give front-line staff more decision-making authority. Mehdi Eftekari, the general manager of Four Seasons Hotel New York, says the group allows its employees to resolve complaints. As an example, he says a customer checking out complains his room service coffee was cold. The typical hotel rulebook would have the clerk get a manager. Instead, Four Seasons’ employees can take the charge off the bill on their own. He says removed charges actually decreased. Hotels and airlines are often concerned about travelers who try to game the system. Eftekari told the audience, “That’s 1/10th of 1 percent. I tell my team to focus on the 99.9%.”

2. Look to Jeff. Amazon is already a powerhouse in luxury sales, according to Bob Shullman, CEO of The Shullman Research Center. He said 74% of the top 1% bought luxury from Amazon in the past year. Moreover, as luxury brands try to figure out how to better sell their wares in an omnichannel world, he says Amazon customers rate the retailer better than other retailers by an 110-to-1 margin. He says top luxury brands typically score a 2- or 3-to-1 margin. “(Amazon CEO and Founder) Jeff Bezos doesn’t see any limitations,” Shullman told the group, noting it has launched its own private label fashion line after many top luxury brands eschewed the sales platform. What’s more, Amazon has a power database of both customer emails and home addresses. Moderator Milton Pedraza, CEO of The Luxury Institute, noted the online retailer needs to fix its reputation that it doesn’t treat its employees well. “It matters,” he says.

3. Shopping needs to be memorable. Retail stores have to move “from nicely furnished stock rooms with well-dressed stock people” to centers of experience, says Ken Nisch, chairman of JGA.. He notes with retail leases running 10 years or more, retailers are under pressure to figure out how you will shop not next month but five years from now. He says malls have increased “experiential” retail space that includes things like restaurants, exhibits and hair styling to 25% from 8%. He quoted Walt Disney, telling the executives, “A picture is worth a thousand words but an experience is worth a million.”

4. Sustainability needs to be relatable. Luxury companies haven’t done a good job communicating what they are doing let alone making it inspirational to you the consumer. Charles Stanley, US CEO for De Beers’ Forevermark said there are a multitude of statistics about how the diamond industry supports sustainability, however, to make an impact his company created short films to show consumers real examples. One vignette shows a single mother who was able to launch a successful business creating more jobs based on funding from Forevermark. Kane Sarhan, marketing boss for 1 Hotels, a new group based on the core value of sustainability (They know where everything from carpets to bathroom fixtures were made and how.) wants guests to go away understanding how they can bring sustainability back into their regular lives. He says a survey of over 50,000 guests found “49% said staying at our hotel made them change life at home.” The hotel has meters in its showers so you can moderate your water use. He says in the future the hotel may reward guests who consume less water or electricity.

5. Brands need to rethink their approach to events you get invited to. David Friedman, co-founder of research firm Wealth-X says most event marketing is based on trying to one-up other events and the guest list isn’t well targeted. He coined the phrase “Hope Marketing.” In other words, hold and party and hope the right people show up and then buy. Friedman says when targeting Super Rich/UHNW consumers, marketers need to turn it around and focus on what the customer is interested in, be it fishing, football, collecting stamps or the opera. Shamin Abas, who owns a PR company that works with jet and yacht companies told the audience to think small. For a client that makes $3.5 million submarines, an event meant bringing an Ultra High Net Worth prospect and his family to the Bahamas for a test dive. For another client that manages private jets, but was worried about what will happen as fathers grew older and turned over operations of their empires to their children, she helped orchestrate a father/son event so the jet company could get to know the next generation.

6. Traditional advertising no longer works. Pam Danziger, president of Unity Marketing, said the average consumer gets 362 ad messages a day, but few of them resonate or stand out because they are in the wrong platforms. Greg Licciardi, chief revenue officer of Elite Traveler (Disclaimer: I co-founded the magazine in 2001 before selling my interest in 2014) said niche media is the key. For companies that want to reach the Super Rich, the publication is distributed on private jets and terminals. Shullman says digital media such as e-mail is effective in driving recall with luxury buyers. Tracy Doyle, creative director for fashion and luxury at The New York Times T Studio says more and more marketers want customized “native content” messages. Licciardi noted that with over 80% of UHNWs having made their money in the past 15 years, luxury marketers can’t assume you know about their heritage or what uniquely sets them apart. “Luxury marketers need to tell the story and educate,” he says.

Doug Gollan is Founder and Editor-in-Chief of DG Amazing Experiences, an e-newsletter for private jet owners.

Source: http://www.forbes.com/sites/douggollan/2017/01/18/luxury-executives-talk-about-how-to-get-more-of-your-money/#66f92d6c4549

January 1, 2017

2017 U.S. Luxury Market: Will We See a Rebound?

The Wall Street Journal: Video
December 30, 2016

Spending on luxury goods and services were generally down in 2016. Luxury Institute CEO Milton Pedraza joins Lunch Break with predictions for 2017 and whether a continued luxury spending downturn would mean trouble for the broader economy.

To see Milton Pedraza’s WSJ Lunch Break Interview, click the link here (source): http://www.wsj.com/video/2017-us-luxury-market-will-we-see-a-rebound/5AC3E7BE-F8F2-4AC0-A115-7ECF4FE086BA.html

December 22, 2016

What Makes Armani Hotel Dubai The World’s Most Luxurious Hotel

Forbes
By: Eustacia Huen
December 22, 2016

What does it take to become the world’s most luxurious hotel? Does it involve outrageous amenities such as in-room 24 karat gold iPads, private jet and butler services, or even pet psychics for your pooches?

According to Anton Perold, Managing Director of the World Luxury Hotel Awards, true luxury is defined by “a team of highly dedicated staff willing to go the extra mile and stop at nothing to ensure that no request goes unanswered,” he said. But since luxury can mean different things to different people, every year The World Luxury Hotel Awards takes on a new focus to select the new winner.

Armani Amal Terrace (Photo credit: Armani Hotel Dubai)

For 2016, the ten-year organization shifts the focus on supreme style and unique elegance, and named Armani Hotel Dubai the winner.

Opened since 2010, the ten-story hotel with 160 rooms and suites is the first hotel by fashion designer Giorgio Armani. Bearing all the Armani signature details in the carefully curated space with Eramose stone floors, zebrawood panels, and custom-made furnishings, it’s no surprise that everything here is tastefully designed.

Hotel Lobby (Photo credit: Armani Hotel Dubai & Max Montingelli©sip)

One of only two hotels (the other one is in Milan) launched by the legendary designer, much of Armani Hotel Dubai’s appeal is also defined by its location. Situated at Burj Khalifa—world’s tallest tower—in Downtown Dubai, the world’s most luxurious hotel boasts stunning views of the city, convenient access to the city’s best shops, restaurants and cultural attractions, plus a dedicated entrance to the tower.

Burj Khalifa (Photo credit: Armani Hotel Dubai)

With all the amenities one would normally expect—Award-winning restaurants, lounge, deluxe spa and various Armani goods, what really sets this hotel apart is the “warm, Italian-style service” noted by Mark Kirby—General Manager of Armani Hotel Dubai.

Armani Ristorante (Photo credit: Armani Hotel Dubai)

For instance, each guest is assigned a personal Lifestyle Manager who handles everything from arranging childcare to landing difficult bookings of the hottest restaurants and events out there. The idea of it is to provide guests with a “‘home-away-from-home experience,” said Kirby.

(Photo credit: Armani Hotel Dubai)

As a former guest of the Armani Hotel, Milton Pedraza—CEO of the Luxury Institute—believes that one of the most remarkable strengths of Armani is his ability in creating an understated style of luxury that’s completely serene. “It’s a paradoxical concept few could pull off. And when done properly (which Armani certainly has), it makes guests feel pampered and peaceful at the same time,” he noted.

All the books in this study at the Armani Dubai Suite are personally selected by the designer himself. (Photo credit: Armani Hotel Dubai)

This ability not only reflects on the fashion legend’s renowned aesthetics, but also his personality and values. According to the luxury expert, there’s something about the Armani Hotel experience that made him feel special. “The staff at his hotels are very well-selected and well-trained. They make you feel welcome in a way that seems more genuine and relatable than other hotels,” he added. 

Walk-in closet at the Armani Dubai Suite (Photo credit: Armani Hotel Dubai)

“Fact is, people don’t want to be treated like royals anymore,” Pedraza said. 

What this award points to—when it comes to luxury hotel trends in 2017—are well-designed spaces that aren’t excessively staged or opulent. As the world becomes more globalized, successful hotels are definitely angling for more local experiences, where guests could get intimate knowledge of each place.

(Photo credit: Armani Hotel Dubai)

Yet, for frequent travelers, don’t be surprised to find your favorite snacks or drinks from your home countries. “As hotels want to ease your transition from one place to another both physically and emotionally,” noted Pedraza, “2017’s hotel experience will focus equally on satisfying your curiosity of a new place as it is on fighting home sickness.”

(Photo credit: Armani Hotel Dubai)

Source: http://www.forbes.com/sites/eustaciahuen/2016/12/22/what-makes-armani-hotel-dubai-the-worlds-most-luxurious-hotel/print/

December 15, 2016

Net-A-Porter is 2016 Luxury Retailer of the Year

Luxury Daily
December 15, 2016
By: Staff

 

Net-A-Porter ad campaign 

Online retailer Net-A-Porter Group is Luxury Daily’s 2016 Luxury Retailer of the Year for its introduction of traditionally ecommerce-averse brands to an online audience.

Net-A-Porter and its brother site Mr Porter placed ahead of first runner’s-up Nordstrom and second runner’s-up Barneys New York thanks to their coveted exclusives and innovations in service and selling. These three retailers demonstrated a willingness to integrate digital touchpoints into the shopping experience, additions that luxury stores are facing increasing pressure to implement.

The Luxury Retailer of the Year award was decided based on luxury marketing efforts with impeccable strategy, tactics, creative, executive and results. All candidates selected by the Luxury Daily editorial team and from reader nominations had to have appeared in Luxury Daily coverage this year. Judging was based purely on merit.

Nothing but net

Net-A-Porter has carved a niche in luxury ecommerce, convincing brands that previously did not sell online to give it a try.

In 2016, Net-A-Porter and Mr Porter became the first solely online outlet to retail IWC Schaffhausen’s timepieces. Similarly, Tiffany chose Net-A-Porter as its exclusive ecommerce partner, making the retailer the only place to buy its jewelry online aside from the brand’s own Web site (see story).

tiffany.NAP east west tiff blue

Tiffany’s collaboration has expanded to watches

Other highlights included an exclusive capsule of Gucci merchandise and the debut of Prada’s ready-to-wear collections online (see story).

Net-A-Porter also showed a willingness to adopt new forms of retail, teaming up with digital fashion rental service Armarium to bridge the gap between borrowing and investing. Net-A-Porter enabled Armarium users to purchase full-price apparel and accessories directly to complete their look (see story).

Reflecting this idea of the luxury shopper who buys at multiple price points, the retailer also launched a collaboration with retailer J. Crew and established a demi-fine jewelry category on its site, with pieces that start at around $30 (see story).

Aside from its product selection, Net-A-Porter also branched out in its advertising efforts. In a break from its tradition of a single campaign face, Net-A-Porter recruited five up-and-coming models of different races and looks for its fall/winter seasonal ad effort, which includes still imagery and a video component (see story).

Net-A-Porter. PRINT DRESS fw2016

Net-A-Porter’s advertising campaign

Net-A-Porter Group also beefed up its content, upping its posting frequency on both its namesake site and Mr Porter from weekly magazines to daily updates. Looking to be a resource for more than just fashion, Mr Porter brought back its Style Council recommendation column (see story).

Mr Porter also found a new way to deliver content, creating a two-screen shopping experience for the Apple TV centered on its videos (see story).

 

Mr-Porter-Apple-TV-400

Mr Porter’s Apple TV app

Service strategy

In 2016, Net-A-Porter built on its existing customer service by making its extremely important people, or “EIPs,” into a formal loyalty program. This included giving these high-spending clientele the ability to preview select merchandise before it became live.

“In 2016 Net-A-Porter has demonstrated strong growth by showcasing our unparalleled product offering, customer retention rate and service, and our unique content offering as not only an online luxury retailer but a media company,” said Marilyn Webber, global director of marketing at Net-A-Porter. “Our product offering in 2016 championed hero brands such as Gucci and Prada as well as a variety of new contemporary lines to appeal to a new customer base.

“We have continued to strengthen customer relationships through our EIP programs, tech advances such as upload previews and SMS shopping updates, and by creating intimate events for customers, friends of the brand and press in new and existing key markets,” she said. “We strive to pursue custom content through our customer emails, push notifications, editorial content and comprehensive campaigns highlighting Net-A-Porter’s seasonal direction.”

Continuing its focus on delivery and 24/7 availability, during the summer months, Net-A-Porter struck up a partnership with Blade to deliver packages to the Hamptons and other hamlets on Long Island’s East End. Net-A-Porter’s same-day delivery service is offered year-round for consumers in the Greater New York area, with an extended practice to the Hamptons available in the summer months (see story).

net-a-porter.blade helicopters

Net-A-Porter’s Blade helicopters

“Our efforts to connect with our customer on a personal level and appeal to their everyday lives is integral for the growth of our business,” Ms. Webber said. “We continue to offer a vast variety of product across categories with exclusive collections, brand collaborations and a ‘wear-now, buy-now’ edit that meets our customers’ needs year round. 

“While Net-A-Porter has established itself as the ultimate destination for luxury fashion and lifestyle, we continue to push the envelope by tapping into new markets through targeted activations and events, constantly elevating our marketing campaigns through new creative direction across a myriad of platforms and by offering unprecedented customer service through our global personal shopping and customers service teams,” she said. “In 2016, we have focused on captivating new customers, enhancing our technology, and executing a strong social and editorial content strategy for our site and media platforms.”

Net-A-Porter, together with Yoox, has seen its revenues climb as other retailers struggle in a difficult climate (see story).

Nordstrom sees anew
First runner’s-up Nordstrom found creative ways of reaching out to a younger generation of shoppers.

Whether hosting a party for 2,000 undergrad students based on a Snapchat contest (see story), or popping up at music festivals with experiential pods (see story), the retailer proved it is able to communicate via millennials’ preferred channels. The retailer has also proven it does not take itself too seriously, playing into the mass confusion surrounding a leather-clad rock for sale (see story).

Nordstrom SXSW 2016 Beauty

Inside Nordstrom’s pods at South by Southwest

The Luxury Institute’s third annual Luxury Multi-Channel Engagement Index, released late in 2015, found that Nordstrom has one of the highest satisfaction levels among affluent shoppers.

Nordstrom topped the rankings of more categories than any other retailer. Among them: its convenient refund/return policy, carrying relevant products and styles, having a navigable Web site, including helpful ratings and reviews and good shipping policies online, convenient locations and in carrying products that are complimented by others. It also beat out national retailers in prices and having good personalized shopping (see story).

This focus on its customers is evident in the chain’s holiday campaign, which features letters of appreciation to real shoppers (see story).

Love, Nordstrom

Love, Nordstrom campaign

The retailer’s individualized assistance is now being delivered by more than just its associates. Aligned with the holiday season, Nordstrom launched a chatbot to provide gifting suggestions (see story).

Nordstrom is also testing out various personalization efforts through digital such as a solution that will notify store associates that a mobile application user has crossed the geofence into the store so they can ready a dressing room. The department store has seen positive adoption with its innovative technology and convenient programs such as curbside pickup (see story).

Nordstrom Anniversary Sale OOTD

Nordstrom’s Anniversary Sale leveraged social media content in-store

Nordstrom, which styled the nominees and presenters at the 70th annual Tony Awards, built upon its placement with a live shopping experience. As performers appeared wearing items from the retailer, viewers could click to buy from their couch (see story).

Along with service, a focus on product curation led to additional locations for the retailer’s Space shop-in-shop concept for emerging designers (see story) and Hermès’ first accessory-centric pop-up, which will be up for almost a year (see story).

A Los Angeles Nordstrom also paved the way for Tesla to engage with affluent shoppers through an in-store gallery (see story).

Barneys comes home
In 2016, second runner’s-up Barneys New York reopened downtown, marking the occasion with a charitable auction, an ad campaign celebrating the multifaceted makeup of New York and a steady stream of content. Included in its editorial features was the launch of a digital city guide, a feature that has since added ideas for destinations including Miami, Los Angeles, Seattle, Paris, Chicago, Boston and San Francisco.

Barneys outfitted its newly opened Chelsea store with iBeacons, using the devices combined with RichRelevance’s Relevance Cloud to deliver personalized notifications and content such as articles, videos and look books to shoppers’ mobile devices when they are within the flagship. At the time, Barneys said it was the first luxury retailer to use iBeacons in a bricks-and-mortar space (see story).

barneys.chelsea womens scott frances

Inside Barneys’ new Chelsea flagship

Aside from returning downtown, Barneys honored its heritage, by publishing its first book in its 93-year history (see story).

Unafraid to push boundaries, the window displays at Barneys’ Madison Avenue and Chelsea stores this year have included lifelike mannequins, deconstructed vintage cars and art gallery-style displays.

 

Barneys Chanel window cruise 2017

Chanel window display at Barneys

Barneys also used its position to garner attention for causes, such as gender equality (see story). The retailer’s holiday campaign invited consumers to use social media as a platform to enact Love, Peace and Joy (see story).

Diversifying its product selection and embracing the fashion industry’s changing norms, the retailer invited vintage ecommerce site Resee.com for a pop-up and was one of the multi-brand stores that carried Burberry’s first see-now, buy-now collection right off the runway.

Source: https://www.luxurydaily.com/net-a-porter-is-2016-luxury-retailer-of-the-year/

December 8, 2016

SURVEY: AFFLUENT CUSTOMERS RATE JEWELERS AS PROVIDER OF TOP CUSTOMER SERVICE

The Israeli Diamond Industry
December 8, 2016
A new survey by the Luxury Institute, conducted among the top 10% earners in the US, the UK, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and China, has found that quality and customer service are the two most important attributes that affluent consumers use to define a product’s luxury status. According to Gem Konnect, jewelry and hospitality brands have the best customer service staff, while real estate and designer shoes were rated the worst in that regard.

In addition, customers in the UK and US are more likely to rate customer service as a necessity for luxury than customers in Japan and China. Superior design ranks third in the list of luxury attributes, and it is more important to UK and US customers than in other countries.

59% of US respondents and 33% of respondents across the other six countries ranked superior craftsmanship in fourth place.

Luxury Institute CEO Milton Pedraza said: “Half of the affluent consumers we just surveyed say that luxury sales associates deliver a personalised and relationship-oriented experience, which is encouraging, but it also suggests plenty of room for improvement when it comes to delivering a superior customer experience”.

Source: http://en.israelidiamond.co.il/News.aspx?boneId=918&objid=17706&cat=2

December 7, 2016

Affluent millennials interested in purchasing luxury goods drops 15pc: report

Luxury Daily
December 7, 2016
By: Brielle Jaekel

 

Travel & Leisure May 2015

Travel experiences are proving to be dramatically more important to affluent millennials, with most interested in hotel accommodations and flight tickets rather than luxury goods.

A recent report from Agility showed that across the globe the majority of prosperous millennials are likely to travel abroad in the next year. Percentages in China, India, Singapore, Malaysia, Hong Kong, South Korea and Taiwan are all above 71 percent for those interested in abroad travel over the next 12 months.

“Millionaires in Asia are young and many of them in our study are in the millennials age group,” said Amrita Banta, managing director at Agility Research & Strategy. “Travel is the new luxury in Asia amongst this profile of consumers and we see that the appetite for travel has increased this year from the last year but the appetite to buy luxury goods has definitely decreased in our sample.”

The study interviewed 922 affluent millennials from China, India, Singapore, Hong Kong, Malaysia, South Korea and Taiwan.

Affluent consumers
Agility’s Asian Millennial and Millionaire Research Results shows there will likely be a decline in luxury retail in Singapore in the upcoming new year, as there has been a 15 percent drop in millennial interest in spending more with luxury goods.

 

Omega.Singapore2

Singapore shoppers

Luxury hospitality brands might have an opportunity to expand into luxury lodges and winter apparel and accessories in Asia. Findings are showing an increase interest in skiing.

Other hobbies such as wine tasting and fine dining are making an impression on affluent Chinese consumers. More than 51 percent were interested in wine tasting and 48 percent in fine dining.

 

Peninsula Academy Chinese consumer

Chinese shoppers

However, while passion for spending more on luxury goods is dropping, interest in shopping in general is still strong. More than 69 percent of Chinese consumers are interested in shopping as a hobby.

Behaviors in luxury
Another study noted that millionaires from the X generation held onto traditional luxury events while millionaire millennials are straying away from happenings such as fashion shows and auto races, according to a new report from Shullman Research Center.

While there are vast differences in culture, behavior and values between lower income consumers versus millionaires, this also holds true for differing generations. For instance, family is the top priority in millionaire Gen-Xers’ lives with 89 percent believing so, but only 67 percent of millionaire millennials say the same (see more).

Also, quality tops attributes such as craftsmanship and service as the number one defining attribute affluent consumers use to discern a good’s luxury status, according to other research by the Luxury Institute.

Behind quality comes customer service, which more than half of consumers mentioned as a characteristic they associate with luxury. Despite global trends, residents of individual nations have varied priorities when it comes to luxury goods, with differing sentiments towards the value of products (see more).

“Asian millionaires are now discovering new interests like fine dining and wine tasting – this year we see activities like Skiing in the slopes of Japan becoming popular with the Singaporean millionaires for instance,” Ms. Banta said.

Source: https://www.luxurydaily.com/affluent-millennials-interested-in-purchasing-luxury-goods-drops-15pc-report/

 

 

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