Luxury Institute News

September 25, 2014

Social network aims for country club status

September 25, 2014
By Katie Humphrey

It could be a story from “The Onion”: Join an online country club for the elite, memberships starting at $9,000.

Except it’s true. Last week, a Minneapolis man launched Netropolitan.Club, a social network for the rich and exclusive. Forget the commoners on Twitter and Facebook. Netropolitan founder James Touchi-Peters bills his site as “a place to talk about fine wine, fancy cars and lucrative business decisions without judgment.”

Its Sept. 16 launch got so much buzz — mostly of the snarky variety — that Jimmy Fallon mentioned it on “The Tonight Show,” imagining posts about firing the gardener and the caviar bucket challenge.

The site’s landing page got so many hits it was slow to load. Then the hackers descended. On Sunday evening, Touchi-Peters, who used to conduct the Minnesota Philharmonic Orchestra, pulled the site down for security upgrades.

“We were aware that people would try to hack the Netropolitan Club, but we were not prepared for the overwhelming amount of attacks,” he said in a statement posted on the Netropolitan Club’s Facebook page. (Because, apparently, even elite social networks need Facebook.)
He said it would be back up by the end of the week.

But will it catch on? We may never know. Touchi-Peters won’t say how many members have joined the site, or give any hint of their backgrounds. He also won’t give anyone a peek at the advertising-free network — unless they pony up the whopping membership payment.

“The attraction is that it’s private,” he said. “So far it’s exceeded our wildest expectations.”
Still, it could be a tough sell.

Privacy is valuable to the wealthy, but so is value, said Milton Pedraza, CEO of the Luxury Institute, a New York City research firm specializing in data and insights of high-net-worth consumers.

“I’m a bit of a skeptic,” Pedraza said of Netropolitan. “What are the benefits?”

Previous attempts to create elite-only networks have mostly fizzled, Pedraza said. One that is still active, ASmallWorld, is focused on jet-setting young adults, offering travel perks and hosting parties around the world. Membership, by invitation only, is $105 a year.

Touchi-Peters, a musician who travels frequently, said Netropolitan is aimed at like-minded people who may not have time to socialize in person, a group he calls the “working wealthy.” Or, he said, it could also appeal to rich people who live in rural areas and don’t have access to traditional social clubs. Users create profiles and can post on message boards organized by interest.

“Most people are going to join to meet other people,” Touchi-Peters said.

More specifically, people who can afford $9,000 upfront and the subsequent $3,000 annual fee.
So much for the idea of an open, egalitarian Internet.

That was a myth, anyway, said Seth Lewis, assistant professor of digital media and journalism at the University of Minnesota. Even Facebook started as the digital playground of Ivy League college students.

“It’s almost like [Netropolitan is] trying to put the genie back in the bottle,” Lewis said, referring to the site’s exclusivity. “The proposition is interesting. It’s hard to see how it succeeds.”As for the name Netropolitan, Touchi-Peters said, it’s a play on the words “metropolitan” and “Internet.” He wanted something that spoke to a cosmopolitan crowd, but the title “Cosmopolitan” was already taken.

“Netropolitan does not stand for ‘net worth,’ ” Touchi-Peters said.

But you’d better be worth a lot if you’re going to get past the virtual gate.

June 26, 2014

Flying the Flagship

By: Simon Brooke
Sphere Magazine
June 26, 2014

Those waiting for the long-predicted explosion of luxury retailing onlines are still holding their breath. While some reports have estimated that global online retail sales have increased by as much as 17 per cent a year since 2007, growth in the effete world of luxury goods is nothing like as fast. Having viewed e-commerce with suspicion for many years, several successful brands have dipped a well-manicured toe in the digital waters-many prompted by the success of Net-a-Porter-but most have held back. Miuccia Prada summed up the sector’s attitude to web sales and e-commerce last year when she declared: “We think that, for luxury, it’s not right…Personally, I’m not interested.”

The new area for growth in luxury retailing is still not internet-based-it’s in the streets and shopping centres. Yes, bricks and mortar are back. In the luxury shopping capitals of the world-London, Paris, New York, and increasingly cities such as Shanghai and Dubai-well-established brands alongside up-and-coming names are opening new locations as well as expanding and refurbishing existing stores. Many are making significant investments: Versace, for instance, has recently sold a 20 per cent stake to private equity house Blackstone so that the brand can develop new venues.

“Luxury brands recognize the reality that only at most 10 to 15 per cent of sales are conducted online and the store, adapted for the future, will always be the main channel of customer engagement,” says Milton Pedraza, CEO of New York-based boutique research and consulting firm The Luxury Institute. “There are many cities across the world that present opportunities in growth for luxury brands and they are selectively opening stores there.”

The Italian trade body Fondazione Altagamma estimates that although online luxury shopping rose by 28 per cent last year, compared with 2012, it still only comprised 4.5 per cent of overall global luxury sales, further evidence that the luxury industry prefers “on street” to “online”. In an industry worth $300 billion, an estimated 90 per cent of luxury purchases still take place in stores.

Click the link to read the entire article which includes quotes from Milton Pedraza, CEO of Luxury Institute:

June 16, 2014

US Internet advertising revenues jump 19pc in Q1: report

By: Joe MacCarthy
Luxury Daily
June 13, 2014

Brands continue to up their digital advertising budgets, according to the Interactive Advertising Bureau.

Internet ad revenues reached $11.6 billion in the first quarter of 2014, compared to $9.6 billion from the year-ago period. While the sharp rise is not all that surprising, the increasingly effective nature of digital ads indicates that revenues will keep climbing at double digit intervals.

“Digital advertising is so much more targeted,” said Milton Pedraza, CEO of The Luxury Institute, New York. “You can now target people so much more finely than you could a few years ago.

“Relatively speaking, the cost is very competitive,” he said. “There’s a tremendous amount of online media that you can tap into.

“It’s just a revolution, a transformation, in advertising.”

Mr. Pedraza is not affiliated with the IAB, but agreed to comment as an industry expert.

The Interactive Advertising Burea was unable to comment. The IAB is comprised of more than 600 media and technology companies that account for selling 86 percent of online advertising in the United States.

Spending spree
Consumers are increasingly dependent on their smartphones, which gives marketers countless opportunities to reach them throughout their daily routines.

Also, since brands continually engage with consumers through social media and other platforms, they can expect a high level of campaign recognition when targeting ads.

Many luxury brands are finding interesting ways to increase click-throughs and post-ad engagement.

For instance, Jaguar of North America leveraged its ongoing British Villains campaign with mobile advertisements on The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and other publications.

Click the link to read the entire article which includes a quote from Milton Pedraza, CEO of Luxury Institute:

February 5, 2014

Wealthy Shoppers Tell Brands How They Want Technology Integrated Into The Shopping Experience

(NEW YORK) February 5, 2014 – The New York-based Luxury Institute asked consumers 21 years of age and older from U.S. households with minimum annual income of $250,000 about their views on incorporating technology in the shopping experience.

Nearly half (47%) of wealthy consumers say that a sales professional providing live chat or video assistance online would help them understand more product details, and 58% appreciate the convenience of instant answers.  Only 15% of shoppers say that they have tried chat or video and refuse to do it again.

Wealthy shoppers do not mind companies collecting personal data and using it for customized marketing, but they do show strong distaste for clandestine data gathering via mobile phones, facial recognition software and GPS tracking; 69% say information collected in this manner is a privacy violation.  Just 24% approve of retailers using facial recognition software to identify them and observe shopping habits.

Using technology in-stores to accelerate checkout is popular, but many affluent shoppers shy away from self-checkout.  Almost three-fourths (73%) say that they appreciate the time savings of checking out via mobile devices instead of standing in line at cash registers.  Although 45% say that self-checkout is more efficient, 44% prefer transactions with help from staff.

Technology has little to do with what wealthy shoppers desire most: free shipping and returns, cited by 92% of respondents.

“Habits of today’s wealthy consumer have increased the desire to browse, reserve and purchase using a mix of channels,” says Luxury Institute CEO Milton Pedraza. “Technology allows brands to leverage customer data and shopping habits, however salespeople still play a vital role into creating unique and engaging experiences.”

May 9, 2013

High-Income Shoppers Embrace Online Commerce, but Stores Also Benefit From Web Browsing

NEW YORK, NY–(Marketwired – May 9, 2013) – The Luxury Institute surveyed wealthy consumers earning at least $150,000 a year about their usage of the Internet and mobile devices, and how these technologies affect their interaction with brands across platforms.

High-earners are about as likely to have bought something at a store (78%) in the past 12 months or ordered it online via computer (77%). Despite the growing popularity of mobile and tablet shopping, research done on a traditional computer still feeds foot traffic into brick-and-mortar stores, and led to in-store purchases among 45% of the consumers surveyed. Only 25% of wealthy shoppers buy online after checking out merchandise and gaining insights at a store.

Using a tablet’s Web browser has officially entered the mainstream as another shopping channel. In the past year, 20% of wealthy consumers reported using these devices to make a purchase. Web-enabled tablet usage is more popular for transactions than catalog purchases (17%), telephone orders (15%), or buying via smart phone Web access (14%). Retailers still send out catalogs because they’re effective drivers of sales in other channels: 20% were motivated by a catalog to make an in-store purchase; 16% of respondents say they bought something online in the past 12 months after seeing it in a catalog. Downloaded apps for phones (12%) and tablets (11%) are also gaining in popularity as distinct retail channels where wealthy consumers shop.

“Successful brands turn shopping and browsing into a seamless experience across traditional websites, apps for smart phones and tablets, and within brick-and-mortar stores,” says Luxury Institute CEO Milton Pedraza. “Wealthy consumers are eager users of the latest technologies and brands need to be, too.”

About Luxury Institute (
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, a membership-based online research portal, and the Luxury CRM Association, a membership organization dedicated to building customer-centric luxury enterprises.

May 5, 2013

9 apps for millionaires

No need to ask Jeeves, just whip out your smartphone

By Kelli B. Grant
May 4, 2013

You’re wealthy and you don’t want to wait out a flight delay? There’s an app for that. BlackJet lets members book a seat on a private jet via their smartphone. Although the app is free, the service sets travelers back $2,500 for an annual membership, plus the cost of the flight; roughly $3,500 for a one-way jaunt from New York to San Francisco.

Sure, it’s not likely to appeal to everyone (read: most anyone), but apps for the 1% have become a hot market. According to a 2012 survey from marketing firm Luxury Institute, 64% of wealthy consumers view luxury brands more favorably if they have their own app. (Most are just window-shopping: Only about 13% of the affluent have purchased a luxury product or service via their phone.) “The best luxury apps come from branded applications,” says Brad Spirrison, the managing editor for review site Appolicious. It’s common to find fashion houses’ look books, high-end hotels’ recommendations for local amenities and other value-added features that any fan might use. But some, like BlackJet and these eight, are really made for rich customers.

Click the link to read the entire article:

March 11, 2013

Wealthy Shoppers Careful About Surrendering Personal Data; Awareness of dangers drives caution

(NEW YORK) March 11, 2013 – The independent and objective New York-based Luxury Institute surveyed U.S. consumers with minimum household income of $150,000 about their attitudes on privacy and their experiences with companies collecting and handling their personal data.

The majority of wealthy shoppers (68%) are inclined to divulge personal data to merchants online, although 75% report this is due to requirements for completing their transaction. Only 24% indicate sharing their contact information during a recent in-store experience, with women feeling more pressure by brands to provide personal details during purchasing experiences. Email is the type of personal data consumers feel most comfortable sharing both in-store (66%) and online (78%). In addition, 46% of customers say that knowing an individual salesperson makes them more likely to divulge contact details while shopping in-store.

Wealthy customers show a penchant for being left alone: 82% have placed their phone numbers on do-not-call lists, and 63% say they would do the same if there were a similar online registry for blocking the tracking of their Web activities. Half of consumers have already fully disabled or edited tracking on their browsers.

Almost 60% of wealthy shoppers feel little or no control over their personal data once a company has it, and 30% say that the security of their data is extremely likely to be compromised.

“Luxury firms must optimize respecting privacy while earning trust in order to collect valuable customer data and use it to create value for customers,” says Luxury Institute CEO Milton Pedraza. “Should privacy legislation be enacted, the brands that will be superbly successful will be those that have built genuine, trusted, long-term human relationships with their customers.”

About Luxury Institute (
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, a membership-based online research portal, and the Luxury CRM Association, a membership organization dedicated to building customer-centric luxury enterprises.

February 18, 2013

Consignment site helps ‘snobs’ swap high-end goods

By Abha Bhattarai
Washington Post
February 15, 2013

The search for a used Chanel bag led Elise Whang out of her job as an attorney and into a new career as co-founder of Snob Swap, a Web site that allows users to buy, sell and swap pre-owned designer goods.

Whang was pregnant with her second child when she had the idea for an online consignment shop. She decided to quit her job at the Federal Trade Commission to start Snob Swap with her sister.

“I got a little tired of chasing the mythical work-life balance,” said Whang, 37. “I just thought, it’s time for a change. I was tired of that flea-market feel of consignment sites. And I was also tired of half the stuff in my closet.”

Click the link to read the entire article which includes a quote from Milton Pedraza, CEO of Luxury Institute:

September 22, 2012

Consumers’ Expectations High for Luxury Brands on Mobile

The highest percentage of high-end consumers expect luxury apps to include a loyalty program

September 21, 2012

Luxury brands have been slow to the mobile party, with marketers steering clients toward traditional brick-and-mortar locations where products could be displayed in elegant surroundings and customers were treated to an impeccable shopping experience. But luxury brands are making up for lost time, according to a new eMarketer report, “Luxury Marketing: Recreating the One-on-One Experience with Mobile.”

Click the link to read the entire article:

September 18, 2012

Luxury Institute CEO on Why You Must Empower, Educate & Mobilize Sales Forces

By Kelly Hushon
The eTail Blog
September 17, 2012

Milton Pedraza, CEO at The Luxury Institute, says we should be providing just as much information to the sales professional as we do to the customer. Makes sense. Somehow many retailers still aren’t doing that.

At a presentation he gave at eTail Europe this past June, Pedraza used Apple as an example. The company empowered its sales force by arming them with mobile devices that allowed them to interact with customers more efficiently and personally. But that’s just the beginning.

When retail stores are less full, Pedraza says there is a great opportunity for sales professionals to work on relationship building with their customers, and they can do so if they are given mobile devices with minimal functionality that allows them to reach out to the clientele they already have through email and other forms of mobile communication. Sales professionals can reach out to customers and nurture relationships in a way that scientific algorithms and data mining can’t compete with because, quite simply, they’re not as good as human beings.

It might seem radical – you might be thinking, “So you’re asking me to give my sales person in my store a mobile device and let them openly and directly email customers? NO WAY!”

According to Pedraza, it doesn’t have to be so scary. The two keys to doing this successfully are:

1. Hire the right people. Hire people who share your customer centric values. If they are selfish, they should work elsewhere.
2. Educate, educate, educate. And add to that Empower; use incentives that will empower them to build relationships with their customer base.

So why haven’t more retail operations done this already? Pedraza says it’s because it’s easier to create a technology app than it is to face the idea of finding the absolute best people, training them and paying them properly. He’s convinced though, that if we do this, it will pay off.

Customers who have admitted having a good relationship with a company and/or its sales force have been proven to spend more wallet share with said company.

Click on the link below to view the brief video of Luxury Institute CEO, Milton Pedraza, and hear more about why this idea works – and why, if you’re not already – you should be doing it:

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