Luxury Institute News

October 4, 2014

Williams-Sonoma returns home to celebrate heritage

SFGate
Janet Fletcher
October 4, 2014

The store that introduced America to food processors and copper fish pans has returned to its Wine Country roots.

For many decades, Williams-Sonoma thrived by being one step ahead of its customers, selling them housewares they didn’t yet know they needed. But with this weekend’s opening of its newest venue, in Sonoma, the trendsetting company is looking back to celebrate its 99-year-old founder and recall its humble debut.

The project also reflects the Boomer-fueled brand’s efforts to woo a younger generation — Millennials, who aren’t exactly rushing to buy homes and stock kitchens.

This retro Williams-Sonoma, at the site of the original store, re-creates the look of the shop that Chuck Williams opened in 1956, down to the black-and-white checkerboard floor. “It’s going to be a total doppelganger,” said Wade Bentson, one of Williams’ first employees, who helped with its design.

With a 12-seat cooking school showcasing local talent, an edible garden, vintage merchandise and museum-style kitchenware exhibit, the store is opening in a town famously hostile to chains. But the billion-dollar retailer, for the most part, is being welcomed like a hometown hero.

“I’m totally excited about it,” said Sheana Davis, a community activist and proprietor of Epicurean Connection, a nearby cafe and cheese shop. “If you’re looking for opposition, I’m not it.”

Williams, who celebrated his 99th birthday this week, operated his store near the historic plaza for only two years before decamping to San Francisco. But his later success made Sonoma itself an international brand.

Visitors still inquire about the chain’s birthplace. “I’ve been introduced as his son several times,” said Steven Havlek, who owns Sign of the Bear, an independent kitchenware store on the plaza.

Re-creating the original

When the site at 605 Broadway became available in 2012, the retailer swooped in. The property included both Williams’ original 570-square-foot shop and an attached home and garden that he had shared with his mother.

“We found enough pictures and enough from (Williams) to rebuild the store exactly as it was,” said Janet Hayes, president of the Williams-Sonoma brand. The restoration includes original signage and the clean-lined open white shelving that became the stores’ trademark.

The new Sonoma store includes an exhibit of ingredients and tools that Williams popularized, such as Fini balsamic vinegar, Maldon sea salt, Le Creuset cookware and French mandolines. Williams’ restored home, attached to the store, has been repurposed as a design studio and showcase for Williams-Sonoma Home furnishings. The store is not all retro; the made-over garden boasts an outdoor kitchen with pizza oven and lots of merchandise from the company’s new Agrarian line, launched in 2012 in keeping with a younger generation’s fascination with urban farming.

The DIY cheese-making kits and high-end chicken coops that Williams-Sonoma is betting on today were definitely not in the mix when Williams began his retailing career. The society matrons who patronized Williams-Sonoma in the late 1950s were lured by the gleaming copper saucepans, Pillivuyt porcelain and fluted tart tins that Williams discovered in France. Jackie Kennedy and Julia Child were about to make French cuisine the epitome of chic, and Williams was poised to profit.

Cooking to entertaining

Urged by his affluent customers to move the shop to San Francisco, Williams listened when one of them suggested a spot near Elizabeth Arden, the high-end salon on Sutter Street. “In those days, women had beehive hair that required a lot of attention,” recalled Bentson, who began working for the store in 1961. “It wasn’t unusual for them to go to Arden’s two or three times a week, and they went right by our store.”

Women from Hillsborough, Piedmont and Marin would have their ball gowns shipped to Williams-Sonoma, drop their dogs off at the store, and then go and have their hair done, recalled Mary Risley, who founded Tante Marie’s Cooking School in San Francisco and is a longtime friend of Williams’. They bought Christmas presents and wedding gifts at Williams-Sonoma, especially after the merchant — again nudged by a customer — created a bridal registry to compete withGumps and Tiffany.

Child’s popular television show, which debuted in 1963, also fueled Williams-Sonoma’s sales. If Julia used it, “people beat the way to our store to get it,” Bentson said. San Francisco cooking teachers like Risley andJoyce Goldstein sent their students to the store for quiche pans, flan rings and souffle dishes — equipment that department stores of the day did not stock.

“Everybody was either taking cooking lessons or giving cooking lessons,” recalledJacqueline Mallorca, an early customer and ad agency employee who persuaded Williams that the store needed a mail-order catalog. Begun in 1972 and, for years, written by Mallorca, the innovative full-color mailer put Williams’ finds and favorite recipes within reach of all Americans.

Today, the recipes have migrated to the company’s website, and the catalog copy is far more clipped and concise. The September issue still includes Le Creuset and All-Cladcookware but also features packaged mixes for Bundt cakes, quick breads, waffles and breakfast bars — a shift noted unhappily by the culinary doyennes of San Francisco.

“There’s an awful lot of tableware,” sniffed Mallorca, an Englishwoman whose polished manners don’t conceal her dismay. “People today are not so interested in cooking as much as entertaining.”

Positioning for future

Goldstein, who later collaborated with Williams on several cookbooks, concurred. “At some point, Williams-Sonoma made the shift from being an educating store to being a lifestyle store, with tablecloths, napkins and pottery,” she said.

The publicly traded company’s other concepts — among them, Pottery Barn, Pottery Barn Kids and West Elm — are thriving, but the net revenue of the Williams-Sonoma brand has been stagnant in recent years and the store count is down. Branding experts and trend forecasters see both opportunities and challenges for the chain as it positions itself for the future.

Many affluent young consumers aren’t hurrying to buy homes, they say, and are more inclined to spend on experiences than on stuff.

“I’ve been invited to buy wedding gifts at experiential websites,” said Kara Nielsen, culinary director for Sterling-Rice Group, an advertising and branding agency in Boulder, Colo. Nielsen and others also point to a minimalist trend, a preference for smaller, less cluttered homes and simpler lives.

“A lot of Millennials believe in access but not ownership,” Nielsen said, pointing to the success of businesses that enable consumers to share cars or rent special-occasion clothes.

Building in diversity

Like other retailers, Williams-Sonoma needs to respond to changing demographics, marketing experts say. “Diversity has to be built into their product range and into their staff,” said Milton Pedraza, CEO of the Luxury Institute, a consultant to high-end brands. Pedraza points to his own multicultural family, which includes Colombians, a Jewish lawyer from Long Island and a Hindu doctor.

“We make samosas for Thanksgiving with turducken and Spanish rice,” he said. “And we’re not atypical.”

Marc Halperin, a food and beverage consultant with San Francisco’s Center for Culinary Development, believes the chain is still a tastemaker and sharp observer of trends. The Agrarian line dovetails neatly with the urban homesteading wave, Halperin said. And the shift toward offering tableware, juicers and other appliances that have little to do with cooking may also be wise.

“There’s clearly a huge understanding of the consumer,” Halperin said. “The number and variety of espresso machines they’re selling is mind-boggling.”

Janet Fletcher is a food writer and cookbook author in Napa. E-mail:home@sfchronicle.com

Company milestones

1956: First Williams-Sonoma store opens on Broadway in Sonoma.

1958: Chuck Williams moves his thriving cookware store to Sutter Street in San Francisco.

1972: Williams-Sonoma mails its first cookware catalog, with a print run of 10,000.

1973: Williams-Sonoma opens its second store, in Beverly Hills. Chuck Williams introduces the Cuisinart food processor, a revolutionary French appliance.

1978: Chuck Williams encounters balsamic vinegar in Italy and begins to import it.

1983: With its initial public offering, Williams-Sonoma becomes a publicly traded company to raise money for expansion.

1986: Williams-Sonoma releases its first cookbook, starting a hugely successful publishing program.

1999: Williams-Sonoma starts its e-commerce site.

2006: Debut of Williams-Sonoma Home, a furniture and home decor collection

2012: Williams-Sonoma starts Agrarian, a line of products designed for urban homesteaders.

2014: Williams-Sonoma opens its240th store in Sonoma, at the site of the original store.

Source: http://www.sfgate.com/homeandgarden/article/Williams-Sonoma-returns-home-to-celebrate-heritage-5800000.php

August 20, 2014

Corruption and cognac: China’s crackdown hits luxury

By: Jacqueline Nelson
The Globe and Mail
August 20, 2014

Cognac has become the latest casualty in China’s war on corruption, a nationwide crackdown that has squeezed the country’s once-plump luxury goods market.

Shipments of the French brandy to Asia, in particular China, have fallen sharply in the past year. Both the volume sold and the total value of shipments dropped around 20 per cent, according to French-based trade group National Interprofessional Bureau of Cognac (BNIC). The Chinese slowdown played a major part in an overall decline in global sales of cognac, with shipments down nearly 7 per cent in the past year and total value falling 10 per cent, the BNIC said. And that came after three years of record sales.

President Xi Jinping began clamping down last year on the spendthrift ways of the country’s government workers, from military officers to politicians and civil servants. The crusade has put the kibosh on giving flashy gifts such as high-priced cognac or leather goods from Louis Vuitton, which had commonly been offered by officials to sweeten deals.

The fallout has slashed the sales growth of many luxury goods to low-single digits, and China is expected to keep this “lacklustre” pace of growth for the rest of the year, according to a recent report from Claudia D’Arpizio, a partner at consulting firm Bain & Co.

Ms. D’Arpizio projects the luxury goods market in China will grow by 2 per cent to 4 per cent in 2014, which is in line with Europe and a slower rate than North and South America. It’s a major change from China’s 20-per-cent increase in market size between 2011 and 2012.

“The corruption crackdown is still reducing sales,” the report said, noting that the stricter regulations were especially impacting gifting.

It’s a tightening spigot that one of the world’s largest luxury companies has seen first-hand. In its most recent quarterly results, Paris-based LVMH Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton SA, maker of Hennessy-branded cognac, cited heavy destocking of French brandy in China. The company attributed this to “anti-extravaganza measures” – a term used to describe the Chinese government’s limitations on extravagant spending. The company’s Louis Vuitton fashion line also saw softer sales in China in the quarter.

The financial results of other cognac-selling companies, such as Rémy Cointreau SA and Pernod Ricard SA, have also shown the Chinese market is a challenge. Fashion house Prada Group, and luxury giant Compagnie Financière Richemont SA, owner of Montblanc, Cartier and Van Cleef & Arpels SA brands, have also been showing similar signs of strain in China.

“This famous gifting issue has impacted our business in China especially for most of our brands, because most of our brands were the most regarded and offered as a gift,” Richard Lepeu, co-CEO of Richemont, said on a recent earnings call.

It wasn’t long ago that China was seen as the future for luxury goods, as incomes there rose while Western shoppers pulled back because of the recession.

But now the region has cooled off and the world’s luxury market is entering a more mature phase. Retailers are reshaping their strategies in China from lengthening store hours to offering discounts in order to entice more customers to spend as growth slows down.

Some luxury producers are navigating the headwinds better than others. Burberry Group PLC’s past quarterly results showed double-digit sales growth in mainland China and Hong Kong. The company’s chief financial officer, Carol Fairweather, attributed this in part to targeting younger consumers and connecting with them digitally. The retailer is still betting on Asia to help drive growth and opened its first flagship store in Shanghai earlier this year.

Even more important than these strategic changes will be maintaining a reputation for quality. “Consumers are so much more discerning now in China,” said Milton Pedraza, chief executive officer of research and consulting firm Luxury Institute LLC. Brands such as Hermès, Bottega Veneta, Chanel and top-tier liquors are standing out with the Chinese consumers because they are truly unique and exclusive.

Tariffs and other charges often make luxury goods more expensive in China than abroad, leading many Chinese to buy their leather goods and other luxe products on trips. This is one area Canada benefits, as wealthy tourists flock to Toronto and Vancouver to shop, Bain’s report notes.

Unless a housing bubble or debt crisis threaten the Chinese economy, luxury brands may have seen the worst of the slowdown.

“I think by the end of the year we’ll be in a different mode. I think the government will have flexed its muscles, it will have made its point,” Mr. Pedraza said. “There’s a lot of pent-up demand out there.”

The government could risk encouraging a larger black market for goods if its purchasing limitations go on too long or become too stringent, he added.

And industry heavyweights such as LVMH are also betting the government sanctions will ease up in the future. The company is building out its cognac-production capacity in anticipation of future growth. “This will help the brands be in a good position when the destocking in China subsides, although this is expected to continue through the second half of the year,” said Chris Hollis, director of financial communication, on a conference call.

http://m.theglobeandmail.com/report-on-business/international-business/corruption-and-cognac-chinas-crackdown-hits-luxury/article20146104/?service=mobile

January 9, 2014

Top-Shelf Toasts: Wealthy Consumers Reveal Preferences Among Champagne And Liquor Brands In Luxury Institute Survey

(NEW YORK) January 9, 2014 – After ringing in another new year, the premium spirits industry is looking forward to a robust 2014. To determine which brands carry the most prestige, the New York-based Luxury Institute conducted its 2014 Luxury Brands Status Index (LBSI) survey to gather opinions of eight high-end champagne brands and 29 liquor brands from four categories. Respondents age 21 and older have an average income of $282,000 and net worth of $3 million. Brands rated include:

Champagne: Cristal, Dom Pérignon, Domaine Chandon, G.H. Mumm, Moët & Chandon, Perrier-Jouët, Champagne Taittinger, Veuve Clicquot

Gin: Bombay Sapphire, No. 209, Hendrick’s, Plymouth, Tanqueray

Scotch: Balvenie, Chivas Regal, Dewar’s, Glenfiddich, Glenlivet, Glenmorangie, Johnnie Walker Blue, Macallan

Tequila: 1800 Reposado, Cabo Wabo, Corazón, Don Julio, Herradura, Jose Cuervo Reserva, Patrón, Sauza Tres Generaciones

Vodka: Absolut, Belvedere, Chopin, Cîroc, Grey Goose, Ketel One, SKYY, Stolichnaya Elit

The LBSI is calculated by averaging each brand’s scores on five separate components of status that relate to premium spirits: quality, taste, packaging, worthiness of a premium price, and appropriateness as a gift.  Respondents also reveal total spending on high-end spirits, as well as personal history with particular brands and the brand that they will most likely buy next.

“Brand status is the key to achieving sustainable growth, especially in saturated categories,” says Luxury Institute CEO Milton Pedraza. “Listening directly to the voice of the wealthy consumer will help champagne and liquor brands stand out on the shelves.”

Patron outranked its competitors in tequila and Balvenie took the lead in premium scotch. To find out more about the rankings within each category, contact us with any questions or for additional information.

About the Luxury Institute (www.luxuryinstitute.com)
The Luxury Institute is the objective and independent global voice of the high net-worth consumer. The Institute conducts extensive and actionable research with wealthy consumers globally about their behaviors and attitudes on customer experience best practices. In addition, we work closely with top-tier luxury brands to successfully transform their organizational cultures into more profitable customer-centric enterprises. Our Customer Culture consulting process leverages our fact-based research and enables luxury brands to dramatically Outbehave as well as Outperform their competition. The Luxury Institute also operates LuxuryBoard.com, a membership-based online research portal, and the Luxury CRM Association, a membership organization dedicated to building customer-centric luxury enterprises.

June 11, 2013

Wealthy to spend less on luxury items they don’t need

By Angela Johnson
CNN Money
June 10, 2013

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) — The improving economy isn’t going to spur a mad dash to luxury stores among the U.S.’s wealthiest shoppers, a new survey shows.

Wealthy consumers are expected to cut back on spending on non-essential items during the second half of the year; seeking products and experiences that hold more value instead, according to a survey released Wednesday by the Luxury Institute.

Of the more than 500 “pentamillionaires” — those with a net worth of $5 million or more — surveyed, more than 80% say luxury goods, such as jewelry, watches, and handbags, have declined in significance.

“Even among the wealthiest customers, luxury goods and services are considered less important in today’s economy,” said Luxury Institute CEO Milton Pedraza in a statement.

Click the link to read the entire article which includes multiple quotes from Milton Pedraza, CEO of Luxury Institute: http://wtkr.com/2013/06/10/wealthy-to-spend-less-on-luxury-items-they-dont-need/

Wealthy to cut back on pricey stuff, spend more on experiences

By Shan Li
Los Angeles Times
June 10, 2013

Wealthy shoppers will refrain from scooping up expensive handbags, shoes and other discretionary items even as the economy recovers and the stock market soars, a study found.

In the second half of 2013, the rich will rein in their spending on material things and seek out experiences that may garner more satisfaction, according to a Luxury Institute survey.

“People are less interested in watches and more interested in building lasting memories,” said Milton Pedraza, chief executive of the Luxury Institute. “Even among the wealthiest customers, luxury goods and services are considered less important in today’s economy.”

Click the link to read the entire article which includes several quotes from Milton Pedraza, CEO of Luxury Institute:
http://www.latimes.com/business/money/la-fi-mo-wealthy-spending-20130610,0,5516627.story

June 8, 2011

Wealthy Millennials Define Luxury Brands In 16 Categories; Craftsmanship And Quality Still Count, But Loyalty Programs, Special Offers And Personalized Service Rise In Importance; Is Apple The New Dom Pérignon?

(NEW YORK) June 8, 2011 – High net-worth consumers 35 years of age and younger define luxury brands much more in terms of loyalty programs and unique offers than do their older wealthy cohorts, according to Luxury Brand Marketing to Wealthy Millennials,” a new survey by the independent and objective New York City-based Luxury Institute.  “Generation Y” individuals born in 1975 and later are also much more likely to have made a luxury purchase in the past year than 35+ wealthy consumers (83% vs. 66%).

Apple, cited without prompting by 45% of wealthy millennials as a luxury brand, tops all other brands, followed by Rolex, Coach and BMW, each offered by 30% of respondents as examples of luxury brands. Just 5.2% cited the iconic Dom Pérignon as a top-of-mind luxury brand, compared to 12% for those older than 35.  In spirits, the most popular brand is the relatively young Grey Goose vodka.

“Wealthy millennials view luxury much more for the experiential factors associated with it, rather than relying on brand heritage or residual prestige earned long ago,” says Milton Pedraza, CEO of the Luxury Institute. “The good news for luxury firms is that these tech savvy shoppers want to interact with them, not only in stores but also online and on mobile devices.  This builds richer experiences and deeper relationships.”

For greater details on brand perceptions, awareness and what matters most to wealthy millennials in each of 16 luxury categories, please contact Martin Swanson, VP of Luxury Institute.

About Luxury Institute (www.LuxuryInstitute.com)

The Luxury Institute is the objective and independent global voice of the high net-worth consumer. The Institute conducts extensive and actionable research with wealthy consumers about their behaviors and attitudes on customer experience best practices. In addition, we work closely with top-tier luxury brands to successfully transform their organizational cultures into more profitable customer-centric enterprises. Our Luxury CRM Culture consulting process leverages our fact-based research and enables luxury brands to dramatically Outbehave as well as Outperform their competition. The Luxury Institute also operates LuxuryBoard.com, a membership-based online research portal, and the Luxury CRM Association, a membership organization dedicated to building customer-centric luxury enterprises.

For Further Information, Please Contact:
The Luxury Institute, LLC
Martin Swanson
Vice President
(914) 909-6350
mswanson@luxuryinstitute.com

May 13, 2011

Jewels That Look Good Enough to Eat

By Victoria Gomelsky
New York Times
May 12, 2011

MUNICH – The British television chef and food writer Tamasin Day-Lewis was intrigued last summer when Hemmerle, the famed Munich jeweler, asked her to collaborate on a book of recipes.

The result, “Delicious Jewels,” published this month by Prestel, is an illustrated cookbook centered on 12 vegetables featured in a newly introduced Hemmerle collection…

Click the link to read the entire article which includes a quote from Milton Pedraza, CEO of Luxury Institute: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/05/13/arts/13iht-acaj-jewelry-food13.html?_r=1

March 1, 2011

Rich Americans flock to fast food

By Jessica Dickler
CNNMoney
February 28, 2011

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) — When it comes to cutting back, the rich are learning a little secret the rest of us have always known: fast-food is cheap and good (if not good for you).

Quick service restaurants, such as McDonald’s and Subway, saw a bigger rise in spending by ultra-affluent consumers than any other restaurant type last year, according to the most recent data by American Express Business Insights.

Lori and Santiago Riviere are among those that have recently been turned on to fast-food dining.

They call themselves “dinks” — as in dual income no kids. She’s an attorney, he works in finance and together they make “well over six figures.” Still, she says the recession has changed her mindset about spending.

“Dining out on a daily basis was completely normal for us,” she says. “Now we eat in or get some form of take out of less expensive food.”

Their economical dinner of choice: Chipotle or Baja Fresh.

“Instead of going to a restaurant and coming out with a $75 bill you come out with a $25 bill,” said Riviere. “Tipping comes into consideration, too.”

Riviere says they order take out most evenings instead of dining out in order to save some extra money for luxury goods.

“I think it’s a sacrifice, but when you have to choose between that and a pair of Jimmy Choos, I’m going to choose the Jimmy Choos.”

In the aftermath of the Great Recession, even the wealthiest Americans are making similar trade offs to curb spending.

In the fourth quarter of 2010, spending on fast food increased 4% among American Express’ most affluent customers, or the top 10% of spenders, the AmEx data said. Meanwhile, spending on casual dining decreased by 4%.

“As the economy continues to recover, affluent consumers are showing restraint in spending in some areas, but not others,” explained Ed Jay, senior vice president of American Express Business Insights.

Jay says that affluent consumers exhibited a “return to value” during the recession and are still demonstrating frugal behaviors where possible, like spending more at fast-food restaurants.

“As wealthy consumers scaled back on consumption overall they started to go to more value or price oriented restaurants, and frankly chains,” added Milton Pedraza, the CEO of the Luxury Institute, which tracks spending among wealthy consumers with a minimum annual income of $150,000.

“No one will do without their iPhone or iPad, and very few people want to forgo travel, but there are other categories that are not priorities,” he said. Particularly when it comes to dining, “people have been making trade offs.”

Meanwhile, popular economical chains like McDonald’s are lovin’ it.

Danya Proud, a spokeswoman for McDonald’s says the company credits its recent growth in part to the addition of McCafe beverages, which include cappuccino, mocha and latté drinks clearly geared toward a more refined palette.

http://money.cnn.com/2011/02/28/pf/wealthy_fast_food/index.htm

September 17, 2009

Despite the recession, gourmet tea has been posting strong sales, prompting some tea brands to consider expanding

NYT.com
Thursday, September 17, 2009

Milton Pedraza, chief executive of the Luxury Institute, a market research company in New York, said he believed that many tea suppliers had seen tea as a mass-market commodity and sold it that way, leaving space for entrants at the high end of the market.

“With the growing popularity of tea, there is an opportunity to differentiate at the top level, even in these challenging economic times,” Mr. Pedraza said. “There is consumer interest in the premium end of almost any category, and I believe a larger segment of tea connoisseurs can be developed globally. But it will take a great deal of education to help consumers to discern differences and be willing to pay a premium, so it will be a slow build.”

The global economic crisis may have dampened the appetite for high-end goods, but one small daily luxury – gourmet tea – has been posting surprisingly strong sales, prompting some tea brands to consider expanding around the world.

Their offerings have poetic names like Silver Moon, Emperor’s White Garden, Goût Russe Douchka and Sakura, Sakura!, which reflect the wide range of exotic flavors, attracting an almost religious following among tea lovers. While the rarest teas, like yellow teas, can cost $2,120 for a kilogram, or 2.2 pounds, gourmet teas cost 30 percent more than standard teas on average, making them an affordable luxury for many.

“There is definitely no crisis when it comes down to gourmet tea; our sales have been increasing every year by 15 to 25 percent ever since we started in 1987,” said François-Xavier Delmas, founder and chief executive of Le Palais des Thés in Paris.

He said the privately owned French company posted annual revenue growth of 19 percent in 2007-8, with sales of €9.66 million, or $14.2 million.

Le Palais des Thés’ experience has been similar to that of other luxury tea brands, as well as specialist retailers.

Read the full article here:

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/09/18/business/global/18tea.html?hpw

June 25, 2009

Luxury Institute Survey: High Net-Worth Consumers Rank Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse as “Best of the Best” Fine Dining National Restaurant Chain

(NEW YORK) June 25, 2009 – High net-worth Americans rate the food, service and overall dining experience at Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse “Best of the Best” among the 20 most popular fine dining national restaurant chains.  Furthermore, according to the latest Luxury Institute “WealthSurvey: Food and Dining Habits of Wealthy U.S. Consumers,” diners with an average annual income of $336,000 and an average household net-worth of $2.2 million say that the current economic climate hasn’t diminished the bi-weekly frequency of their out-of-home dining. The questions were developed in cooperation with Concrete Marketing Solutions.

While wealthy diners identify Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse as the priciest chain restaurant, the Florida-based steakhouse’s superior ratings for food quality and service secure it as the top overall restaurant.

Often, dining out is a matter of convenience for the wealthy, and when it is, they seek value. Olive Garden has been the most popular destination over the past year, and was visited by 36 percent of these elite diners. Other popular restaurants include: 

  • Applebee’s (30 %)
  • Outback Steakhouse (28 %)
  • Chili’s (27 %)
  • Red Lobster (27 %)
  • TGI Friday’s (25 %)

“The nature of what constitutes a fine dining experience – well-presented and delicious food that’s served flawlessly in an environment that pleases all the senses – does not change simply because of the business cycle,” said Milton Pedraza, CEO of the Luxury Institute.  “This comes directly from the types of diners who don’t mind spending $300 or $400 on a dinner for two with a bottle of nice wine and dessert.”

Two-thirds of the wealthy say that Italian food is their favorite restaurant fare, adding to the appeal of Maggiano’s Little Italy, the second most popular chain that also ranks in the top three for food quality, service and restaurant décor. Portland seafood chain McCormick & Schmick’s finishes first for décor, second for service and third for overall experience behind Ruth’s Chris and Maggiano’s. 

Moderately priced chain PF Chang’s China Bistro received high marks for food quality-finishing third behind Maggiano’s and Ruth’s Chris-and earned a fourth-place ranking for overall dining experience.

The study also shows that forty percent of wealthy diners read reviews on the Internet, with Zagat being the most popular online restaurant advisory and with one in six turning to Dine.com.  Popular magazine sources of reviews are:

  • Food and Wine (32 %)
  • Bon Appetit (30 %)
  • Gourmet (22 %)
  • Wine Spectator (15 %)

About the Luxury Institute (www.LuxuryInstitute.com)

The Luxury Institute is the uniquely independent and impartial ratings and research institution that is the trusted and respected voice of the high net-worth consumer. The Institute provides a portfolio of proprietary publications and research and consulting services that guides and educates high net-worth individuals and the companies that cater to them on leading edge trends, high net-worth consumer rankings and ratings of luxury brands, and best practices. The Luxury Institute also operates the LuxuryBoard.com (www.LuxuryBoard.com), the world’s first global, membership-based online community for luxury goods and services executives, professionals and entrepreneurs.

For Further Information, Please Contact:

The Luxury Institute, LLC
Martin Swanson
Business Development
Phone: (914) 909-6350
E-mail: mswanson@luxuryinstitute.com

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