Luxury Institute News

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/

August 29, 2016

Bijan property on Rodeo Drive sells for $19,000 a square foot

Los Angeles Times
August 26, 2016
By: Andrew Khouri

The demand for $5,000 handbags and $25,000 suits is slipping amid global turmoil.

But enthusiasm for real estate on Rodeo Drive, where such high-end goods are sold, isn’t hurting. Instead it’s setting records.

The parent company of Louis Vuitton recently paid $122 million, or $19,405 a square foot, for the yellow House of Bijan building at 420 N. Rodeo, long home to a boutique known as “the most expensive store in the world.” The deal, revealed in public records, was the second time in seven months that a record fell on Rodeo.

Late last year, Chanel paid $13,217 a square foot for a store it was leasing nearby at 400 N. Rodeo, the high-water mark for California retail until last month’s Bijan sale.

The eye-popping amounts reflect how few properties there are on the Beverly Hills street, as well as how infrequently they go on sale. And in a struggling market for luxury goods, the deals underscore that high-profile streets such as Rodeo or Manhattan’s upper Fifth Avenue are far more than a place to sell a $10,000 timepiece.

“They are billboards in some places for the brand,” said Milton Pedraza, chief executive of consulting firm Luxury Institute. “The companies can demonstrate power, and their staying power, by buying up these properties.”

Indeed, Marc Schillinger, a director with commercial real estate company HFF who represented the seller Bijan Properties, said “everyone came out of the woodwork when we announced the opportunity to buy this asset.”

“There are only 2½ blocks on Rodeo Drive,” said Schillinger, who declined to confirm the price or buyer. uEvery luxury retailer wants to anchor their brand on Rodeo.”

That’s proving true even as the luxury retail market takes a breather. Sales of luxury goods in the U.S. have fallen around 10% on average over the last year, while traffic in luxury stores is down 20%, Pedraza said.

The downbeat numbers are due to several reasons — similar to ones that have softened ultra-high-end residential real estate markets in places such as Los Angeles, New York and London.

Slowing global economies and a strong U.S. dollar have sapped the buying power of foreigners and dampened tourism. Meanwhile, uncertainty over the economy in the U.S., along with the upcoming presidential election, has caused some wealthy Americans to hit pause on big purchases.

On Friday, Italian retailer Prada said its retail sales in the Americas fell 15% in the first half of the year, explaining that the U.S. market “remains tough.”

“So many factors have converged — unfortunately in a negative way,” Pedraza said.

LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton has done better than many retailers though. The Paris-based luxury goods conglomerate reported that U.S. sales climbed 7% during the first half of the year.

A high-profile store, however, isn’t just about selling goods. Even in the age of e-commerce, high-end digs have worth as a place to hold flashy events and market a brand’s cachet across the globe.

Fashion houses are willing to pay a premium to buy such an opportunity. They’d rather do so than rent and risk losing the location if their lease is not renewed, said Robert Cohen, vice chairman of real estate firm RKF.

That’s especially true as fast-fashion companies with far lower prices increasingly compete for such locations, including an H&M that opened on a pricey stretch of Fifth Avenue in Manhattan in 2014.

The highest price per square foot for a U.S. retail space came two years ago when Chanel purchased a shop it was leasing in New York on Madison Avenue for $31,329 a square foot, according to Real Capital Analytics.

“They are protecting their position on the street and in the market,” Cohen said of such purchases.

It’s unclear what LVMH’s plans are for the Bijan building, where the iconic store has operated for 40 years.

The Paris retailer with 70 brands already has multiple stores on Rodeo including Louis Vuitton and Dior locations that it leases and a Celine store that it owns.

A spokesperson for LVMH declined to comment, as did a manager at Bijan.

Iranian American designer Bijan Pakzad opened his appointment-only boutique on Rodeo Drive in 1976. It became known for its ultra luxury goods such as $6,000 suits and $19,000 ostrich vests.

Through the years, House of Bijan counted many high-profile names among his clients, including Michael Eisner, King Juan Carlos of Spain and Presidents Carter, George H.W. Bush, Clinton, George W. Bush and Obama. Pakzad had success to match, with homes across the world he flew to on his own jet.

Pakzad died in 2011 but left a lasting imprint on Rodeo Drive, helping to make it a world-class destination. The store’s manager, who declined to give his name, said the store is now owned by Pakzad’s family.

“Long before Tom Ford and Karl Lagerfeld, Bijan had a keen understanding of the cult of personality in fashion, starring in his own ads and billboards, name-checking countless celebrities and parking exotic cars outside his store, all to stoke his fame,” former Times fashion critic Booth Moore said following Pakzad’s death.

But throughout the decades, as rents soared along with the cachet, Rodeo has lost many of its local boutiques, including Fred Hayman’s famed Giorgio Beverly Hills, with its distinctive white-and-yellow striped awning, which closed in 1998.

The Bijan store is operating under a lease; its expiration has not been disclosed.

Given the sky-high sale to LVMH, the pricey but small House of Bijan is likely to go as well, real estate broker Cohen said.

The French firm may want to bring in a deep-pocketed tenant who would pay more in rent, or give yet another of its brands a foothold on Rodeo.

“It’s one of the greatest luxury streets in the world,” he said. “It’s global branding and global domination.”

Source: http://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-bijan-sale-20160825-snap-story.html

June 3, 2016

Retailers’ personalization efforts fall short of consumer expectations

Luxury Daily
By: Sarah Jones
June 2, 2016

When it comes to personalization, retailers’ ideas of their own capabilities are often inflated when compared to consumers’ assessments.

A TimeTrade report found that while 69 percent of retailers say they are delivering an individualized shopping experience to customers all of the time, only 26 percent of consumers agree that the retailers are successfully providing a consistent experience across all channels. This divide shows definite room for improvement among retailers as they seek to provide a positive, personalized customer experience.

“This disconnect stems from how retailers define ‘personalization’–as providing a consistent experience across all channels–and how they deliver that personalized experience,” said Lauren Mead, vice president of marketing at TimeTrade.

“Let’s say a customer who has loyalty rewards enters a store–great chance to personalize the customer experience,” she said. “Unfortunately, that customer will likely remain anonymous until point of purchase. By then it’s too late for personalization.”

TimeTrade’s “Personalization in Retail: A Reality Check” is based on a survey of 10 C-level retail executives and 2,064 consumers.

Expectation vs. reality
For 93 percent of retailers, personalization is part of their organization’s strategy.

The most widespread definition of personalization among respondents was having a consistent customer experience across channels, with the interaction between a sales associate and a consumer coming in a close second. Less common definitions include being able to make personalized offers by having a 360 degree view of the consumer and delivering personalized messaging through digital channels.

Asking consumers about the most frequent definition of personalization, TimeTrade found that 55 percent believe that retailers somewhat deliver across channels, while 20 percent say great improvement is needed.

luxury shoppers
Shoppers have a different opinion on personalization than retailers

Consumers’ opinions of a need for improvement do not match up with retailers’ ideas of their own prowess. Only 25 percent have any plans for new personalization initiatives within the next year and a half, while 69 percent believe they are already at peak personalization performance.

For those who are planning upgrades, training in-store associates tops their priority list, with 74 percent intending to do so in the coming 18 months. Targeted marketing campaigns, social selling and clienteling are also goals for at least 40 percent of respondents.

The in-store environment is the top concern for retailers looking to boost their customer experience, with 45 percent agreeing it is their number one priority. The next closest channel is social media, at 19 percent.

When consumers were asked to share which channel they believe provides the worst customer service, call centers came in first for half of respondents, followed by in-store, with 26 percent agreeing it could use improvement.

Bloomingdale's Palo Alto store
Bloomingdale’s Palo Alto store

Despite the rise in digital and mobile marketing in recent years, consumers still rely heavily on in-store sales associates to assist them in making purchases, according to a recent report by the Luxury Institute.

The majority of consumers surveyed reported making most of their purchasing decisions in-store without researching online beforehand. Luxury brands looking to improve consumer relations should focus more attention on improving the in-store retail experience and providing consumers with ready assistance (see story).

“Top luxury brands can personalize better by emphasizing the physical store as an opportunity to tailor the shopping experience to each consumer and training in-store associates to use relevant technology and data to improve the customer experience,” Ms. Mead said.

“Execution here is critical- there are many proven technologies that retailers can use that will help automate processes for store associates and also the consumer,” she said. “Simple automation and self-service can enable consumers to have a seamless experience and help them engage sooner with associates for more prompt service.”

Mobile mindset
One key area that could assist retailers in delivering a positive in-store experience is the incorporation of technology.

Only 42 percent of retailers say their associates use a mobile device or tablet on the sales floor, while 15 percent of employees use their own phones for business within the retail environment. Rather than dissolving consumers’ trust in an associate, more than half of respondents say they would be more confident about their prospects of having prompt, personal service if their contact is using a mobile device to communicate with other employees.

Technology could also facilitate luxury services, such as in-store appointments. When asked if they would schedule an appointment with an associate on a device of their choosing, 59 percent of respondents said they would.

When asked about touchpoints they would like to offer for hypothetical appointments, retailers said that text notifications would be most helpful. This was followed by enabling associates to coordinate with each other via mobile devices to handle traffic in the lobby.

“Tools like online appointment booking can help retailers anticipate which customers will be coming into their store, why they are coming and make sure there is a knowledgeable associate ready to serve them,” Ms. Mead said. “This enables personalization from the start.

“To make this to happen, retailers need to also invest in putting more technology in the hands of store associates: 43 percent of retailers report not currently having their store associates using mobile devices,” she said. “Considering that more than half of consumers feel confident of receiving prompt and knowledgeable help if they see associates using mobile devices to help customers, this is a missed opportunity on retailers’ part.”

Rather than harming the luxury shopping experience, technology can allow retailers to speak to consumers on an individual level.

Department store chain Barneys New York is furthering its omnichannel capabilities through the use of integrated iBeacon technology and a personalization platform.

Powered by RichRelevance’s Relevance Cloud, Barneys is emphasising its dedication to creating an in-store experience enhanced by digital touchpoints. The initiative has created a first-of-its-kind digital customer experience at Barneys’ recently opened downtown flagship in Manhattan’s Chelsea neighborhood (see story).

“The key is selecting technology that enables in store associates to better assist customers rather than replace human to human interaction,” Ms. Mead said.

“With this type of technology training is critical,” she said. “Retailers must invest the time and resources to ensure that in-store associates are fluent in the relevant technology and can utilize it on the fly, enabling and not distracting the associate from from serving the customer and proving the best possible experience.”

Source: https://www.luxurydaily.com/retailers-personalization-efforts-fall-short-of-consumer-expectations/

March 7, 2016

Luxury Institute finds 7 improvements luxury retailers can make right now to improve sales

Luxsell
By: Victoria MacDonald
March 2, 2016

In the excellent article “Luxury Institute Reveals 7 Major Improvements Store Managers Recommend to Drive Sales Performance Right Now,” Milton Pedraza, CEO of Luxury Institute, LLC, shares results of an intimate focus group he conducted with  store managers of premium and luxury brands and shares their best practices and recommendations to improve sales.

“…luxury and premium retail store management today is configured for rigid Industrial Age operational efficiency, rather than highly-adaptive, relationship-building effectiveness.”

– Milton Pedraza, Luxury Institute

The seven improvements include:

  1. Store teams desire to be more relationship-centric and want to be freed from back-office tasks.
    The suggestion is to separate back-of-house and customer-facing staff. This way your sales associates can do what they do best – build relationships with your customers.
  2. Select and maintain the right-sized team to drive superior results.
    Managers shared that 40% of their employees are poor performers. Make sure you’re hiring the right people! When I worked at Tiffany & Co., we moved away from hiring associates based on their experience in the jewelry industry, to using a pre-hire assessment to find those associates who best demonstrated the personality traits and behaviors we valued.
  3. Better, smarter, and faster ways to manage inventory and client data are needed right now.
  4. Teaching fundamentals once a year is great, but what is really needed in stores is coaching on a much more frequent basis.
    Learning is a process, not an event. Managers must become part of the training process in order to support, encourage and sustain the learning. But that means managers may need help in developing their coaching skills. Take a look at a simple coach-the-coach program I outlined in an earlier post.
  5. Use social media and other tools to connect with millennials and drive them to stores.
  6. Empower local innovation since store teams know clients better than anyone else.
  7. Compensation is fair, but the goals are sometimes not.

Though luxury store results thus far for 2016 may be less than outstanding, the collected wisdom from these store managers can help you refocus, revamp and revive your store’s approach to luxury sales.

http://luxsell.me/2016/03/02/luxury-institute-finds-7-improvements-luxury-retailers-can-make-right-now-to-improve-sales/

November 25, 2015

Nordstrom, Bergdorf Goodman lead retailers in overall satisfaction: report

Luxury Daily
November 25, 2015
By: Forrest Cardamenis

Department store chain Nordstrom is the top-rated luxury retailer, according to findings detailed in The Luxury Institute’s third annual Luxury Multi-Channel Engagement Index.

Consumers evaluated six luxury fashion retailers both in-store and online across a total of 31 attributes – 15 online and 16 in-store. Because the findings come from consumers, they can help each retailer determine which areas it needs to improve on and what specialties will help distinguish it from competitors.

“[We wanted] to get the voice of the client, not to have a panel of experts, not to have one individual,” said Milton Pedraza, CEO of The Luxury Institute. “This is the wealthy consumer rating their own experiences, these are all clients of the brands.”

Ahead of the pack
Barneys New York, Bergdorf Goodman, Bloomingdale’s, Neiman Marcus, Nordstrom and Saks Fifth Avenue were evaluated on the ease of 14 common criteria both online and in-store. In addition, there was one additional criterion for online shopping and two for in-store.

The common traits are: finding desired products, the perception consumers had of the retailer, product selection, customizability, customer service, policy on returns and exchanges, product displays, exclusive or limited products.

Traits also included whether selections were relevant to the consumer’s lifestyle, the availability of proper sizes, pricing, loyalty programs, confidence that the retailer would meet the consumer’s needs and how often products from that retailer receive compliments.

SAKS 5th Ave
Dior beauty counter at Saks Fifth Avenue

Respondents had a median age of 52, minimum household income of $150,000 and an average of $289,000 and $2.9 million in net worth, numbers that align with luxury retailers at large. Among the findings about consumers is that twice as much spending takes place in-store, with women and consumers under 45 years of age being more likely to spend online.

Bergdorf Goodman beat out Nordstrom in some notable categories. It is best perceived as a luxury retailer, as having the best prices and having the best personalized shopping experience.

However, Bergdorf Goodman has only two stores, one for men and the larger for women, both on Fifth Avenue in New York, whereas Nordstrom has 118, which will play into perceptions of luxury. Nevertheless, Bergdorf Goodman’s relative aversion to discounting did not stop consumers from highlighting its prices.
Nordstrom
Nordstrom

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.

Fittingly, Nordstrom is the most popular retailer online and leads in market-share on both channels.

Tough times

Mobile transactions do not comprise a large share of the revenue for any of the retailers. While mobile is an important part of the transaction journey for many consumers, who use it to research and in-store to compare prices and selection, it has not yet become a major source of transactions.

Retailers are missing out on significant revenue opportunities by failing to personalize consumers’ shopping experiences, thanks to the lack of adaptive pages, product recommendations and search functionalities on their mobile sites, according to a Retail Systems Research report.

In its “Personalization Across Digital Channels” report, sponsored by predictive analytics platform Reflektion, Retail Systems Research highlights the major faux paus that brands commit when it comes to mobile commerce. As consumers’ expectations for retailers’ digital offerings grow higher, marketers must deliver optimized experiences, including saved search histories, suggestions on previous purchases and responsive pages tailored to each device (see story).

neiman.hudson yards rendering
Neiman Marcus Hudson Yards rendering

Nevertheless, online shares have grown and retailers have proven themselves adaptable to new technology.

“I think what [the data] tells you is that, even though we thought that the luxury multi brand chains were going to be overrun with the likes of Amazon and others, that just hasn’t happened,” Mr. Pedraza said. “They have become very nimble and very agile at online and ecommerce. Don’t underestimate these omnichannel chains. They definitely will rise to the occasion.”

One of the major obstacles in both ecommerce and in being perceived as luxury is in discounting. Discounting is a surefire way to lure in new consumers short-term but represents longer-term risks for the brand.

As a result, many retailers have opened up discount stores, which, despite also risking perception, could become a venue to funnel discounted merchandise and leave the main store full-price.

Although this change could not be implemented suddenly without alienating some consumers, there are already signs that it is taking place and may become more visible as holiday shopping is amped up.

Bloomingdale's Ala Moana exterior
Bloomingdale’s Ala Moana exterior

Consumers should expect a reduction in holiday promotions from retailers, according to a recent report by Upstream Commerce.

Based on the past two years of holiday promotions, the report predicts that 2015 will see a decrease in both the number of products discounted and in the discount rate. Fewer sales incentives and lower discounts could indicate a new strategy based on the “right” offering rather than simply presenting more promotions (see story).

“There is a lot of discounting out there, but full-price will remain relevant,” Mr. Pedraza said. “Unfortunately I suspect there will be a lot of discounting in the fourth quarter because when you enter their store they are flushed with inventory, all of them, so I think there’s going to be a big reduction.

“Traffic is down dramatically in all of these stores — some insider estimates, people on the inside of these companies, place traffic down anywhere from 20 to 30 percent,” he said. “It’s going to be a very tough fourth quarter, at least on market.

“We may see the top line improvement because of the discounting and you’re going to sell more, but we may see that the margins erode and by the way we may see comps that are not that good. Luxury right is in a very tough place, nowhere near what it was in 2008, everybody is suffering.”

Source: http://www.luxurydaily.com/nordstrom-leads-retailers-in-overall-satisfaction-luxury-institute/?utm_referrer=https%3A%2F%2Ft.co%2FFFJxcMPESf%2Fs%2FAiXG&utm_referrer=direct%2Fnot%20provided

 

October 27, 2015

Relationship building critical to luxury retail: Luxury Institute CEO

Luxury Daily
October 27, 2015
By: Sarah Jones

LONDON – The human element is going to be the top differentiator among luxury brands going forward, according to the CEO of Luxury Institute at Luxury Interactive Europe 2015 on Oct. 26.

As consumers increasingly experience the world through screens, they will come to crave the now-rare human connection. Here is where luxury brands can help themselves stand apart by outperforming their peers at relationship building and delivering a worthwhile personal touch.

“As consumers are more sophisticated, and as products become more commoditized, it’s the delivery of an optimized experience across channels that is critical and that high performance client relationships are our differentiators,” said Milton Pedraza, CEO of Luxury Institute, New York.

Brand image
Brands are struggling to define themselves, especially as they bleed into more affordable price points. For instance, a representative from an Italian jeweler told Mr. Pedraza that his brand does not know its own identity anymore, after a move down market left it straddling premium and exclusive.

Luxury Institute client Nordstrom now makes half of its sales via outlet stores. Recognizing that the customer retains a level of mystery, Nordstrom similarly remains ambiguous. Despite this non-specific label, the retailer still scores first in customer service in surveys conducted by the consultancy.

Nordstrom Anniversary Sale
Nordstrom heavily promotes its anniversary sale on social media

Consumers are becoming more sophisticated, and brands need to optimize their user experience for their requirements.

Across channels, brands in the luxury space are struggling to connect the dots between policy, procedure and system to deliver a rewarding customer experience.

While 37 percent of men and 49 percent of women find browsing without help from a store associate to be most effective, this does not remove a brand’s place in the process. For brands to guide consumers’ exploration, they should include signage in an on-brand way or have store associates communicate with the shopper to help them find what they are looking for.

Valentino Rome store women
Valentino store in Rome

Even in the digital space, which tends to be thought of as a do-it-yourself shopping channel, the human element cannot be entirely removed. Walmart might be able to automate and take out that the personal interaction from the buying experience, but for luxury brands, the relationship is everything. It is especially important to invest in this personal approach for top tier clients.

Therefore, sales associates should be taught interpersonal skills, such as trustworthiness. While often thought of as innate, these can be learned. Ensuring that all associates are pulling their weight will also help to retain top frontline employees over time.

For best practices, Mr. Pedraza suggests looking outside of the luxury industry rather than studying peers. Those that excel at relationship building are within the military, medicine and airline industries. For instance, brands can look to the military, which has developed successful methods of empowering soldiers, to gain insights on store associate education and guidance.

Making a connection
Mr. Pedraza asked each of the tables to discuss what changes they would make to their organizational structure, front line associates and compensation to help foster strong client relationships.

Ideas from around the room included rotating employees within roles to develop empathy, looking at the company from the consumer’s perspective and empowering sales associates with access to technology and a CRM system. Other suggestions included new roles, such as a customer information officer, which would span sales and marketing.

After hearing from the room, Mr. Pedraza shared his suggestions. These include empowering employees by shifting the organizational structure from a top-down management style to one where individuals are self-managed.

Milton Lux Int Europe
Milton Pedraza

On the same note, employees should be educated rather than trained, with the focus on ideas for creative relationship building rather than delving out a strict formula to follow.

Associates should be compensated for their actions, such as messages sent and appointments booked, rather than their sales results.

Brands should also make sure that each and every member of their team fits the culture. For many companies, this would mean eliminating employees who do not want to talk to anyone.

In addition, brands should ensure that the technology they are providing their staff with is up-to-date. Ineffective systems are often a dealbreaker for associates, particularly younger employees, and they will take their talent elsewhere.

While technology can help to deliver a high-touch experience to consumers, data and automation cannot replicate the level of engagement that a salesperson can create with shoppers, according to an executive from Moda Operandi at Luxury Interactive 2015 on Oct. 13.

Moda Operandi employs stylists, who work with its most valued consumers to provide personalized recommendations and one-to-one communications, but the process being used to deliver this service was tedious. Keeping the same human touch business model, Moda Operandi built a new platform to help its stylists deliver more relevant, visually appealing messages to the most important customers (see story).

“The key is that we’ve created these great channels, but we haven’t connected the dots,” Mr. Pedraza said. “And that I think is the critical issue.

“It’s not that we’re not innovating in each of those channels. It’s that we have not connected the dots to the point where, for example, a sales associate is empowered and inspired and maybe incentivized to send the client online,” he said. “Or that when the client buys online, the sales associate reaches out with a thank you card and a follow-up.

“We haven’t figured out those little basics that really create realtionships. Today we are very digital, very technical, we’ve disempowered the people in the stores, is one of my premises. We haven’t connected the dots, as simple as they are to connect, whether it’s technologically or humanistically, we haven’t figured out the policies, the procedures, the systems yet.”

Source: http://www.luxurydaily.com/relationship-building-critical-to-luxury-retail-luxury-institute-ceo/

October 15, 2015

Selling and service as terminology is dead: Luxury Institute CEO

Luxury Daily
October 15, 2015
By: Staff reports

NEW YORK – While luxury brands typically know the best practices in client building, most are not practicing these strategies for their own customers, according to the CEO of the Luxury Institute at Luxury Interactive 2015 Oct. 14.

The traditional training program for sales associates is out of date, as the focus should be on education that can be applied in a creative way rather than a rote set of rules and checklists that take the human element out of interactions. Additionally, these important members of a brand’s team should be rewarded more for their actions than their results, putting the emphasis on client retention and engagement, which will lead to sales over time.

Consumer behavior
In a survey of wealthy consumers, 68 percent of men and 64 percent of women say that their spending on luxury or premium products revolves around bricks-and-mortar. The frequent conception today is that consumers have conducted such detailed research prior to their store visit that they cannot be swayed or influenced by an associate, but Luxury Institute found 45 percent of women and 30 percent of men do not do any searching before they head to the store.

With 37 percent of men and 49 percent of women noting that they find browsing without the help of a salesperson to be most effective for finding new merchandise, brands may want to rethink their store strategies. Displays with product information or signage that assists with navigation or points out new items can help aid this independent exploration.

This eschewing of a sales associate’s assistance is even more prevalent online, where only 8 percent of men and 3 percent of women say they find new products best with the help of an associate via live chat or other online communication.

The sales associate does still have a place, but ensuring that the interaction is relevant and effective now comes down to technology. Retailers should be ensuring they are giving their salespeople the best tools since associates may think of taking their talents elsewhere if technology proves a deal-breaker.

According to a new study by Yes Lifecycle Marketing, many retailers are still unwilling or unequipped to tailor customer service to the individual.

The study looks at retailers in a variety of different sectors and finds that many have not sufficiently tracked clientele and are thus unable to provide sales associates with the personalized data that will help initiate and close a transaction. With consumers navigating freely between mobile, Web and in-store shopping, and brands therefore able to gather more information than ever before about frequent shoppers, properly cataloguing clientele has emerged as a way to provide the best possible customer service and showcase a great branded experience (see story).

Other trends shaping the luxury industry are the spending power of women, who will control the majority of assets. Seventy percent of women who inherit from their spouses change their financial advisor within a year, wanting to move on from someone who has mistreated them.

The only sectors that are successfully marketing to women are beauty and skincare.

“Beyond leaning in, you have to jump into the deep end of the pool,” said Milton Pedraza, CEO of Luxury Institute.

Source: http://www.luxurydaily.com/selling-and-service-as-terminology-is-dead-luxury-institute-ceo/?utm_referrer=direct%2Fnot%20provided

August 14, 2015

Millennials’ wealth management preferences differ from boomers: report

Luxury Daily
By: Kay Sorin
August 14, 2015

Millennial investors have different preferences compared to their baby boomer parents when it comes to wealth management, according to a new report by Luxury Institute.

While baby boomers and older generations prefer to work with full-service brokerage firms, wealthy millennials and members of Generation X are showing an increased preference for working with private advisors. Independent financial advisors can offer a more individual approach that is often appealing to younger investors who are accustomed to personalization.

“Independent financial advisors are able to do more things for their clients, because they are not working for a firm that has rules and regulations about what they can or can’t do,” said Milton Pedraza, CEO of Luxury Institute, New York. “The IFA is the fastest growing industry in wealth management.”

Different strokes
Luxury Institute surveyed investors earning at least $150,000 and found that at least 46 percent used some form of advisor to help them manage their finances. Among respondents aged 65 and over, this number rose to 59 percent.

Michael Kors affluent couple car
Wealthy millennials are inclined to prefer independent wealth managers

Respondents varied in their preferences for an independent wealth manager versus a full-service brokerage firm such as Morgan Stanley or Merrill Lynch. Interestingly, this preference strongly correlated with age.

“A full service firm doesn’t have a fiduciary relationship with the client, meaning that they are not legally obliged to serve the client’s interests only,” Mr. Pedraza said. “They can recommend an investment in which they will make a bigger commission.”

Millennials and members of Generation X and Y, defined as those 45 and younger, showed a significant preference for independent wealth managers compared to full-service brokerage firms. Thirty-eight percent chose to work with individual advisors while 27 percent preferred a big brokerage firm.

Michael Kors case
Millennials have access to more information and are well informed

Investors over 65 were much less likely to work with an independent advisor and only 28 percent reported doing so. They strongly preferred to go full-service with 56 percent using large firms to manage their wealth.

This difference between the generations is likely a result of their upbringing. Baby boomers were raised to expect to work with a big brokerage firm, while millennials may be more wary and distrustful after the recession of 2008.

Sotheby's London Property
Financial advisors can assist in major life decisions such as purchasing a home

Additionally, millennials have more information at hand, which allows them to be more selective with their advisors.

“Millennials are so much more informed that they depend less on a brokerage firm providing them with research,” Mr. Pedraza said. “Millennials don’t need as much because they are so informed.

“They know that very few financial advisors can outperform the market in the long term.”

One way in which individual advisors often distinguish themselves is by providing a more personal connection for clients. Luxury Institute found that expertise, trustworthiness and generosity were the most valued traits in financial advisors.

Affluent family
As millennials age they are in greater need of financial advice

More than numbers
Investors looking for both a personal relationship and a full-service brokerage firm may seek other solutions to find the ideal compromise. Ultra-affluent consumers often appreciate the relationship-building culture fostered at boutique wealth management firms, according to a report by the Luxury Institute.

The New York-based Rockefeller Wealth Management firm received the highest score in the report, followed by Atlanta-based Atlantic Trust Private Wealth Management and Convergent Wealth Advisors. As wealth management firms continue to repair their reputations following the financial crisis, prioritizing relationships over transactions will be important (see story).

Regardless of the size of a firm, relationships are often the deciding factor when it comes to choosing a financial advisor. To differentiate themselves from competitors, wealth management companies must make crucial changes that will only work if the alterations are part of the company’s core DNA, according to a speaker from the 2012 Forrester Customer Experience Forum.

It is no longer enough to just return calls and give a great customer experience, since clients at wealth management companies are not even thinking about those that do not require this. Instead, Morgan Stanley Smith Barney was forced to bolster its customer service in terms of technology, getting to know the customer and its consultants (see story).

Looking forward, it is essential for wealth management companies to take personal relationships into account in order to appeal to wealthy millennials.

“Millennials will be keen to stay with those who deliver and will dispense with those who don’t,” Mr. Pedraza said. “They will choose advisors based more on the client’s experience than on the client’s return.

“The baby boomers are kind of exiting the stage. Millennials will demand a far more objective and independent metric.

“Advisors need to be completely trustworthy and very responsive,” he said. “They need to go above and beyond to make the client feel special.”

 Source: http://www.luxurydaily.com/millennials-wealth-management-preferences-differ-from-boomers-report/

June 8, 2015

Cadillac to Sponsor First-Ever New York Fashion Week for Men ‘I Am Very Much Interested in Taking Cadillac Into the World of Fashion’

Advertising Age
June 5, 2015

While the New York womens’ collections have failed to land a car company to replace longtime title sponsor Mercedes-Benz, Cadillac has signed on to become the first-ever automotive backer of New York Fashion Week: Men’s.
The agreement, signed to last two seasons, includes producing a variety of related events and providing Cadillac vehicles as shuttles for attendees. Shinola, Amazon Fashion, and Dreamworks have also been confirmed as sponsors for the fashion week focusing on menswear.

“I am very much interested in taking Cadillac into the world of fashion,” Cadillac President Johan de Nysschen said. “The whole idea of beginning to strengthen Cadillac’s position as a lifestyle brand is very much central to our mission. This is a good start.”

“It should be interpreted as a clear statement of intent that we will walk with a heavy footstep in the fashion world,” he said.

In addition to the role during men’s fashion week, Cadillac will continue as a presenting sponsor of New York Men’s Day, a special day formerly set aside during the womenswear-heavy New York Fashion Week to highlight emerging menswear designers. This year, that day will move to July in order to align with NYFW: Men. This will be the second season that Cadillac participates.

The new deal is a telling move from a 113-year-old brand that was reportedly considering the title sponsorship of what was formerly Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week, which primarily showcases womenswear. Mercedes-Benz ended its title role there earlier this year; the twice-annual event has suffered a deficit of energy since moving from Bryant Park to Lincoln Center in 2010. Many fresh, new fashion brands started showing their wares at off-site locations — often involved with Made Fashion week.

Earlier this year, Cadillac hosted arguably the hottest ticket during New York Fashion Week, when it allowed Public School to show its Autumn/Winter 2015 menswear and womenswear collection in the automaker’s new offices, situated between Tribeca and the West Village.

“We evaluated New York Fashion Week, and we continue to think it’s a worthy property,” Mr. de Nysschen says. “But we weren’t ready to figure out how to fully integrate that into our overallmarketing strategy.”

Cadillac’s decision to sponsor men’s fashion week (which is backed by the Council of Fashion Designers of America), rather than New York Fashion Week, speaks to its desire to return to the cutting edge of culture. In recent years, the automaker has struggled to revitalize its fuddy-duddy image; last year the average buyer of a Cadillac was 59.5 years old, according to the global information company IHS Automotive — much older than the thirties to early forties age range most desirable to luxury brands.

The men’s week sponsorship is totally new — a first. It’s an essential first at that, industry insiders say.

“Cadillac needs that cool, fashionable, ‘gets it’ association to appeal to all consumers, especially Gen Xers and Millennials, who still have a perception of an older brand,” Milton Pedraza, chief executive officer of the New York City- based Luxury Institute, said via e-mail from Stockholm.

New York Fashion Week: Men’s runs July 13-16 at Skylight Clarkson Square in downtown Manhattan. A spokesman for Cadillac declined to disclose the amount of the new sponsorship.

Source: http://adage.com/article/cmo-strategy/cadillac-sponsor-york-fashion-week-men/298907/?utm_campaign=SocialFlow&utm_source=Twitter&utm_medium=Social

June 5, 2015

When is Luxury not Luxury?

PYMNTS
June 4th, 2015

When Lilly Pulitzer released an exclusive line for Target in April, the entire collection sold out at some physical locations within hours. Good for the designer, good for the store, good for the buyers. A resultant Target website crash aside, good for everybody…right?

“No target shouldn’t collaborate with Lilly just no ew ew ew keep Lilly Pulitzer classy people” – Katherine (@kathhlambert)

“lilly pulitzer collaborating with target is probably the worst news I will get in all of 2015” – Marisa Lyn Friedman (@marisalynnnn)

“Lilly pulitzer for target?! Holy hell What’s next?! the apocalypse??! affordable clothing for the masses!? Disgusting” – Pamela Beesly (@trillprincess47)

Those tweets (the third of which, c’mon, has to at least be partially sarcastic) went out not after “Lilly Pulitzer for Target” was released, but actually when the line was first announced, back in January.

The perception among Lilly Pulitzer devotees outspoken in their disapproval of the Target collaboration, then and now, seems to be that the value of Lilly Pulitzer clothing (and other items) is directly related to their cost. And if the cost goes down (Lilly Pulitzer dresses, which often sell for $200, were available at Target for $40), the brand itself diminishes in value.

It wasn’t only semi-anonymous Twitter users who expressed their disdain for Lilly Pulitzer’s availability to bargain shoppers. In an op-ed for Bloomberg, columnist Megan McArdle – having expressed her belief that Lilly Pulitzer clothes are in fact quite ugly and worn only as a statement by people too rich to care – wrote that “actually wearing Target’s Lilly Pulitzer line…signals the exact opposite of what it is supposed to.” That is to say, if you had to make an effort to buy those clothes, you don’t really deserve to wear them.

Crossovers between high-end brands and mass-market retailers – and the potential image risk to the former – are by no means a new phenomenon. In 1983, the designer brand Halston released a collection exclusive to J.C. Penney, and lost some luxury partnerships as a result.

Halston’s experience aside, the particular backlash to the Lilly Pulitzer/Target collaboration seems a bit out of step with the norm, as Target’s own partnerships with brands like Isaac Mizrahi and, as recently as this year, Missoni, or the recently-announced deal between H&M and Balmain, did not raise such a volume of ire among self-appointed consumer protectors of the luxury ideal.

While there is a risk of brand dilution in partnerships, a study from the Luxury Institute (which, you have to figure, knows a thing or two about this topic) showed that affluent shoppers are not turned off by luxury brands partnering with mainstream brands.

With specific regard to the Lilly Pulitzer/Target hookup, the Harvard Business Review crunched the numbers and viewed the outcome as purely positive.

“Unlike the market saturation and brand extension strategies that have de-valued other luxury brands like Michael Kors and Coach,” states the HBR’s report, “the Target collaboration was a smart move for Lilly Pulitzer. The limited-item, limited time collection allowed the company to expand the brand while maintaining its exclusive appeal.”

Given the success of the arrangement on almost every count (save, again, that unfortunate website overload), it is more than likely that more collaborations between high-end brands and mainstream retailers are on the horizon. Will there be outcries from those who, holding luxury in high regard, look down their noses at mass-market consumers? It’s likely. But it’s just as likely that such complaints won’t have much an impact on the bottom line.

After all, haters gonna hate.

Or, as Lisa Birnbach put it more eloquently in New York Magazine, Lilly Pulitzer herself “would not have approved of her ‘defenders.’” Referencing the Alexander Theroux quote, “Hypocrisy is the essence of snobbery, but all snobbery is about the problem of belonging,” she concludes that “Pulitzer, despite her last name, was no snob.”

Source: http://www.pymnts.com/news/social-commerce/2015/when-is-luxury-not-luxury/#.VXGbUs9Viko

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