Luxury Institute News

January 15, 2016

The wonderful, unexpected return of the luxury coupe

The Verge
By: Tamara Warren
January 15, 2016

If you want to win the hearts of cynical car journalists at an auto show, dazzle them with the unveiling of an unexpected luxury coupe concept. Buick, the GM brand that’s struggled with its old-guy image over the past few decades, opted to use the stage of the North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) this week to make a powerful statement about its identity. Last Sunday, Buick unveiled its vision for a luxury concept coupe — the Buick Avista, a classic two-door looker.

The “coupe,” a term with French origins, refers to a two-door body style and dates back to the turn of the 20th century. It is typically smaller and more svelte in proportion compared to a four-door sedan. In recent years, automakers have started to bend the definition of the word to include sporty four-doors, but the Avista is a true coupe in every sense of the word. “[The Avista] was purely a design exploration exercise,” says Liz Wetzel, director of interior design for Buick. “We used this project to take sculptural beauty and think about Buick and where it’s been in the past. The Buick Y-Job was the very first automotive show car. Buick used to use technology and beautiful sculpture together.” (GM’s first car design chief Harley Earl created the Y-Job, the first concept car at an auto show in 1938.)

But Buick isn’t the only luxury automaker to spark car crushes at the Detroit show this year — Infiniti is showing the Q60, and Lexus makes a powerful statement with the LC 500 production car. Both of these handsome coupes attracted considerable attention away from the more conventional crossovers and sedans.

At NAIAS, automakers’ design departments get to put their best foot forward, and the classic coupe is sure-fire way to drum up attention from admirers. “Luxury consumers have come to expect fuel efficient cars for both economical and environmental reasons,” says Milton Pedraza, CEO of the Luxury Institute. “Aerodynamics play a huge role in the fuel efficiency of cars and highly influence the design. The most aerodynamic designs are simplistic, chic, and timeless. The cars of 2016 will have a classic familiarity that comes with simplistic design, but with contemporary features that make them appealing and modern.”

Design departments are able to experiment at auto shows by pushing boundaries without the constrictions of practicality and safety regulations. When given the green light to make compelling concepts, the show fuels a sense of competition among car design studios. Buick’s exterior director of design, Holt Ware, describes Detroit as “the Super Bowl for car designers.”

“If you think about it like the race track, there are some really fabulous races around the world, but Le Mans is still Le Mans and everyone wants to go to Le Mans,” Ware says. And the Avista won this week’s Super Bowl: it took home the EyesOn Design Best Concept award.

The Avista, like most beautiful objects, started from a burst of creativity followed by an approval from management, not the other way around. “From the teams in the studio, it happened because they wanted to see themselves in a vehicle,” Ware says. “They didn’t all want to see themselves in a three-row SUV or a crossover.” Production designers worked on the car as a side project. “If you’re in a production studio, you have to justify your resources, because everyone runs on a budget. The justification for us was that it was our jam session. If a musician has a concert, you can’t mess up in a concert, but then you have the jam session where you go in the garage, throw down, and try to explore your instruments and working together as a band. That’s what we did on this vehicle as well.”

Both Wetzel and Ware says they’re shocked about the powerful response to the show car. No one at GM is saying this car, which is based off GM’s Alpha platform (the same one that underpins the Chevy Camaro) and boasts a 400-horsepower V-6, will be built. For now, the company is positioning it as a statement piece.”We’re getting the data points in North America right now, because everybody loves it. And so, when is the right time to do it?” says Mark Reuss, GM’s executive VP of global production development. “Is it three years from now; is it two years from now? Is it a year from now? When is that? That would be the next discussion. And so, it’s not out of the question, but the point of the car is, ‘here’s where Buick’s heading.’”

While Reuss fashions the presence of three big luxury coupes at the show a coincidence, I have to wonder if this splashy trio suggests that there is more space in the marketplace for new coupe buyers — particularly as Infiniti and Lexus invest in building the production versions of these cars. Pedraza suggests that automakers might be making cars that appeal to an aging population that has disposable cash. “A majority of current purchasers in wealth are baby boomers,” he says. “This age group is currently in a transition as their children move out of the house and they are left with an empty nest. They no longer need large cars and are able to buy more stylish, trendy, and fun vehicles such as coupes,” he says. Hence products like the LC and Q60 — and maybe, if we’re lucky, the Avista.

Source: http://www.theverge.com/2016/1/15/10772432/the-return-of-the-luxury-coupe-detroit-auto-show-2016

January 13, 2016

Brands need to focus on relationship-building, not selling: Luxury Institute

Luxury Daily
By: Forrest Cardamenis
January 13, 2016

For the first time since the economic crash in 2008, many top luxury CEOs are worried about the state of the industry, according to the Luxury Institute.

Issues ranging from the economy to the weather and internal service problems have contributed to a world in which nine of 10 would-be clients leave a store without a purchase and only 20 percent of the buyers return. Although the global economy and the weather are hard to control or predict, every brand has a chance to empower its sales associates to convert and retain sales.

“In the second half [of 2015] things turned ugly,” said Milton Pedraza, founder and CEO of Luxury Institute. “I had a CEO tell me she hasn’t seen so many negative factors working against the luxury industry since we recovered.

“Remember, after 2008, China decided it was going to go on a growth spurt–and I say ‘decided’ because they are a communist country–and that made up for all the other things in the rest of the world,” he said. “So it helped countries like the United States and it helped Europe to start recovering, but now all those things turned negative.

“There’s a dramatic slowdown in China; the dollar has strengthened so you are getting fewer tourists and exporting less out of the U.S.; Europe never recovered fully; you have luxury shifting toward experiences rather than goods; traffic is down in stores even in the U.S., and while stores are moving into online buying there is no way online buying is making it up, so a lot of companies are now discounting.”

Changing the game
In addition to complex economic issues rooted in global relations, a transition toward a digital economy and the buying patterns and behavior of both aging boomers and emerging millennials, uncontrollable factors such as weather are also capable of hurting stores. An unseasonably warm winter has made it so coats and other seasonal apparel is not selling as well this year.

luxury shoppers
Luxury shoppers

However, brands still have a chance to generate their own sales and ensure that those who do walk through the door make a purchase and return. Despite the hard emphasis on “selling,” sales and retention are a factor of relationship building first and foremost.

“There is a lack of empathy when you enter the store, a lack of trust when you enter the store and a lack of generosity you feel coming to you – when I say generosity I don’t mean ‘discounts,’ I mean ‘Champagne,’” Mr. Pedraza said. “We haven’t empowered our people. We are training them to be robots instead of being the good human beings they are and making connections in a good human way rather than saying, ‘I’m going to sell you stuff!’ Expertise is not being delivered with empathy.

“That’s not the sales associates faults, that’s an education thing,” he said. “It’s not ‘training’ – these are not puppies – you educate them and you empower them to reach out and retain those clients.

“Sometimes you don’t try to make a sale at all, you just say thank you. But if you have 20 sales associates and maybe three or five are doing very good outreach with genuine emails, thank you cards and calling the client with something relevant, that’s not enough.”

Michael Kors affluent couple car
Affluent couple; image courtesy Michael Kors

In addition to empowering sales associates to build relationships first and then let sales arise naturally rather than push hard for sales right away, brands need to put ego aside. Employees at all levels cannot keep up with or recognize the best practices and innovations because of internal politics and relationships and the responsibilities of their own jobs. As a result, independent, trustworthy outsiders need to become a part of the service model.

When sales associates are trained in workshops, the share of associates that use the best practices after six months is a mere 10 percent. With ongoing support and weekly training sessions of half an hour to an hour, the number jumps to 95 percent.

This extends to high-performing sales associates. Although top performers or their supervisors may feel like their performance means they would not benefit from training compared to others, this is not the case. On the contrary, the return from training and continuous coaching is often best with these employees, because a 20 percent boost for an employee who sells $1 million of merchandise per year is a bigger gain in revenue than a 20 percent increase for an employee who sells half as much per year.

Bloomingdale's shopper
Image courtesy of Bloomingdale’s

Even with the introduction of continuous coaching, CEOs note that a sizable 40 percent of success depends on this kind of relationship-building expertise, but that leaves 60 percent for products, and many brands are stumbling on that front as well.

“I think that right now there’s a feeling there’s no compelling product,” Mr. Pedraza said. “There’s not an ‘it bag’ no ‘it product,’ just a lot of ‘me too’ and very little innovation.

“A lot of people are redesigning their stores, and that’s great, or trying to innovate, and that’s great, but very few have gotten there – Gucci on the women’s side, but not much,” he said. “Not many have had the courage that makes people say ‘I need this, I gotta have it,’ and brands need to create the things that people say they want.”

Getting younger
Brands must also keep in mind the habits of their consumers, as baby boomers and millennials do not have the same priorities and concerns.

Understanding demographics is the first step to effective marketing, according to a report by Unity Marketing.

Affluent consumers, defined in the study as those who make over $100,000 a year, slightly more than a fifth of households, are the fastest growing income bracket. Although economic factors are often foregrounded when discussing changes in wealth and buying patterns, understanding shifts in generations and the ratios of different age groups over time can help brands build long-term strategies without the uncertainties related to predicting the economy (see story).

Affluent consumer shopping Rolls Royce
Affluent consumer with a Rolls-Royce

In addition to how to reach consumers, some of those changes might include rethinking of what it means to be a “luxury” brand.

For millennials, the “luxury” label does not carry the same mystique as it has in the past or that it might for older consumers. Instead, the word connotes over-priced and unaffordable goods even more than it defines craftsmanship or value. For these consumers, the values associated with the brand as well as the relative value in cost-per-use are more important.

Indeed, millennials do not abide to the traditional hallmarks of luxury. Rather than marking themselves by wearing the most expensive brands they can afford, they look to brands that reflect who they are, opting, for example, for an Ironman Triathlon watch instead of a Rolex and preferring to foster their own identity through their clothing, accessories and other goods rather than harnessing the brand’s (see story).

“Clients are less loyal, which means they have a lot more options, and they are being bribed by lots of discounting so they are going to where they find the best deal,” Mr. Pedraza said.

“Baby boomers are today far less interested in goods as they were before, and less interested with consumption in general,” he said. “As they get older they’re more concerned with ‘what experiences do I need in what’s left of my life, what legacy do I leave in the world, what do I leave my children, what contributions have I made?’

“Luxury brands have to contend with all those factors and I don’t think there’s ever been a period where we need to contend with so many factors. The luxury industry is going to need to go through transformation and needs to adapt but nobody is exactly sure how. How do you get the traffic back in the store so you can convert them? How do you capture relationships online?”

December 18, 2015

Luxury travellers have dim view of Trump brand: survey

Marketing experts weigh in on how to do a hotel rebranding properly
Business Vancover
By: Glen Korstrom
December 17, 2015

The Trump brand is weak among luxury travellers, according to a new survey – a finding likely to fuel more controversy over whether Vancouver’s Holborn Group made a wise decision by contracting with Trump International to put the Trump brand on its under-construction hotel.

Trump ranked 40th out of 40 luxury hotel brands when wealthy travellers who were familiar with the brand were asked whether they would recommend the brand to family or friends, according to the 2016 Global Hotels Luxury Brand Status Index, which the Luxury Institute released December 17.

Strict privacy laws in Canada meant none of the survey respondents were Canadian, CEO Milton Pedraza told Business in Vancouver in an interview.

Instead, the New York-based Luxury Institute found its 3,900 respondents by buying lists from reputable companies that were able to determine income for those who live in the U.S., U.K., Japan, China, France, Germany and Italy.

Luxury brand Maybourne Hotels ranked No. 1 in each of four metrics, for which respondents were asked to grade hotels on a scale of 0 to 10:

•delivering consistent superior quality;

•being unique and exclusive;

•being visited by people who are admired and respected; and

•making guests feel special.

Trump ranked No. 34 for quality, No. 30 for exclusivity, No. 31 for having admired and respected guests, and No. 37 for making guests feel special.

“The survey was in the late summer,” Pedraza said. “This was before [company owner and Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump] started making all of the super-vile statements.”

In fairness, the sample size for those who graded Trump hotels was lower than those who graded much larger brands, such as Ritz-Carlton, Four Seasons and JW Marriott, because participants were only allowed to grade brands that they were familiar with or had experienced.

This was the first year that the Luxury Institute included the Trump brand because, in previous years, the nine-hotel brand was considered too small. Trump representatives then lobbied the Luxury Institute to be included, Pedraza said.

Trump is expected to open hotels in Baku, Azerbaijan in early 2016 and then one in Rio de Janeiro before Vancouver opens in July to make the chain a complete dozen.

Trump International Hotel & Tower Vancouver general manager Philipp Posch told BIV that he would not comment on the survey because he was not familiar with it.

Marketing for his hotel has not yet started.

“We’ll wait out the holidays and probably by January or so, we’ll reach out to clients and start the marketing process and machine,” Posch said December 17.

Click here to read a profile of Phillip Posch

How to do a rebranding properly

Branding experts say Holborn likely wishes that it never hitched its horse to the Trump cavalcade and that the situation underscores the need to have an escape clause in contracts.

“People who do these masthead deals for hotels might want to look at sports sponsorships,” said Brandever principal and branding expert Bernie Hadley Beauregard.

Those deals often end the day after a sponsored, star athlete does something objectionable.

A recent spate of hotel rebrandings in B.C. has experts pointing out both how to do a rebranding properly and what to avoid.

(Victoria’s Hotel Zed has won awards for its rebranding of what was previously known as the Blueridge Inn | Crazyintherain.com)

Branding experts’ biggest lessons are to keep the name short and catchy while making sure that the brand is consistent across the chain so guests will know what to expect.

Keeping a brand consistent across properties is a lesson regardless of the sector.

“The art form of branding is to bring the name down to be something that is usable and memorable to the consumer,” Hadley Beauregard said.

He pointed to Portland, Oregon-based Ace Hotels, which has seven hotels around the world in cities as varied as London, Panama City and Seattle.

“Always artistic, eclectic and hip, Ace Hotels often redefine their host city’s magnetic centre,” he said. “Their brand aura is such that you want to make a pilgrimage to see their properties, even if you aren’t staying there.”

Victoria-based Accent Inns’ rebranding of its secondary, economy hotel to Hotel Zed from Blueridge Inn, in 2014, similarly aimed for a hipper image and a short succinct name.

Rooms at Hotel Zed in Victoria have modern elements such as flat-screen TVs, which have media hubs to project iPhone screens onto the TV monitor.

Basically, however, the hotel’s shtick is that it is made to look retro – complete with rotary-dial telephones and furniture and lamps that appear to be out of the 1970s. A multicoloured 1967 Volkswagen van is parked outside and typewriters in the lobby are for guests to use.

“Because Accent Inns starts with an ‘A,’ we can also say that we’ve got brands that go from A to Zed,” Accent Inns marketing director John Espley told BIV.

The rebranding was such a success that Accent Inns plans to open a second Hotel Zed, in Kelowna, next summer. Accent Inns won recognition for the rebranding at the Victoria Real Estate Board Commercial Building Awards in the hotel category. Destination British Columbia then highlighted the hotel when it unveiled its new $2.6M marketing strategy late last year.

Beauregard, however, is less enthusiastic about Vancouver-based Pinnacle International’s rebranding of its longtime Renaissance Vancouver Harbourside Hotel as the Pinnacle Hotel Vancouver Harbourfront.

“Too many words,” Hadley Beauregard said. “My head hurts.”

Making the rebranding more puzzling, he said, is that the new Pinnacle Hotel Vancouver Harbourfront is virtually across the street from a second hotel that also has “Pinnacle” in an even wordier name: the Vancouver Mariott Pinnacle Downtown Hotel.

(Kyle Matheson is director of hospitality marketing at Pinnacle Hotel Vancouver Harbourfront | Rob Kruyt)

What’s worse than simply having two hotels extremely close together, with both carrying the distinctive word “Pinnacle” somewhere in the brand, is the fact that the two hotels are managed by two different companies – Marriott International and Pinnacle International – even though they are both owned by Pinnacle International.

The two hotels therefore have different offerings for guests.

The Marriott Pinnacle, for example, requires guests to join a loyalty program to get free Wi-Fi whereas the Pinnacle Harbourfront provides guests free Wi-Fi with no need to join any program.

“This creates confusion in consumers’ minds,” Hadley Beauregard said.

“Brand consistency is key.”

Rationale for recent Pinnacle’s rebranding

Pinnacle International has contracted Marriott to manage the Marriott Pinnacle for the past decade.

Paying a management company a fee up to about 5% of revenue to be able to use a global brand such as Marriott is called “flagging” a property.

The common practice is exactly what happened when Holborn Group agreed to pay Trump International to be able to use the Trump brand on Holborn’s hotel.

The point of this strategy is to coast on the brand recognition of a well-known manager such as Marriott or Trump.

Pinnacle International, which is best known as a real estate developer, ended its management contract with Marriott’s Renaissance Hotels earlier this year. That meant that it had to come up with a new name for the property.

Its director of hospitality marketing, Kyle Matheson, told BIV that the new Pinnacle Harbourfront name makes it clear that the hotel is near Vancouver’s harbour.

Using Pinnacle in the name was done because Pinnacle International both owns and manages two other B.C. hotels: Pinnacle at the Pier in North Vancouver and Pinnacle Hotel Whistler.

“The goal with rebranding the [former Renaissance] property as Pinnacle Harbourfront was to broaden our hospitality and hotels and restaurants portfolio under our own Pinnacle name,” he said.

 Source: https://www.biv.com/article/2015/12/luxury-travellers-have-dim-view-trump-brand-survey/

 

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 22, 2015

Tesla, Musk shine from free celebrity marketing, but will it last?

Automotive News
October 22, 2015

SAN FRANCISCO (Bloomberg) — When “The Late Show With Stephen Colbert” debuted on CBS last month, the host chose Tesla CEO Elon Musk as one of his first guests.

Colbert, who commutes into Manhattan in a Model S sedan, took his enthusiasm for Tesla Motors Inc. one step further in an episode last week. He spoke for almost six minutes about his car’s latest autopilot features, the march toward self-driving vehicles and efforts by competitors Apple, Google and Uber.

“I love my Tesla — it’s so fast, it’s all electric,” he told viewers. Comparing his car to a laptop computer on wheels, he said that with the company’s latest over-the-air software update, “Tesla owners woke up to find their cars could drive themselves.”

That glowing Colbert report shows how Tesla benefits from celebrity enthusiasm — for free, from customers that include Oprah Winfrey — to promote the brand. Throw in some viral Internet clips, test drives and customer referral programs, and Tesla is able to spend money on developing products instead of on marketing. In stark contrast to other automakers, Tesla doesn’t currently pay for traditional media such as television, radio or print advertising or celebrity sponsors.

“The Colbert segment was amazing because it was so long, it was Colbert, it was Colbert’s new show and instead of being playfully sarcastic he was overwhelmingly positive,” said Lincoln Merrihew, senior vice president of client services for Millward Brown Digital in Boston, who first watched the Colbert clip on YouTube. “The magic of a celebrity evangelist is that they love a product so much that they will talk about it for free. It was more than a simple endorsement; it was more like a commercial.”

That air time is valuable. On average, 30-second spots on the “Late Show” will average $38,400 from Colbert’s debut through the end of the fourth quarter, according to media-cost forecaster SQAD Inc. It helps, of course, that the 44-year-old Musk is a brand and a celebrity in his own right — making him a worthy guest — as well as a deft user of social media.

Stock decline

At the moment, Tesla can use a little extra fan love. Its once high-flying stock has fallen to the low $200s from its July peak at $282 in the wake of last month’s long-awaited introduction of the company’s Model X SUV. Three analysts have cut their price targets amid concerns that Tesla, which aims to deliver at least 50,000 vehicles this year, faces a steep production ramp in the fourth quarter.

On Tuesday, the Model S lost its recommendation from Consumer Reports after owners complained about quality issues as mundane as a squeaky sunroof to major issues like the electric motor needing to be replaced, the publication said in its forthcoming December issue. The Consumer Reports news sent shares tumbling 6.6 percent to $213.03, its biggest drop since Aug. 6.

Musk has pushed back on Consumer Reports via Twitter, saying the publication’s reliability survey “includes a lot of early production cars. Already addressed in new cars.”

Fan power

The auto industry already is also legend with celebrity ads, from Matthew McConaughey’s oft-parodied commercials for Lincoln to Clint Eastwood’s two-minute “It’s Halftime in America” spot for Chrysler, a hit of the 2012 Super Bowl.

For Tesla, the celebrities do the work on their own accord, not for a paycheck. Stars such as actress Alyssa Milano, director Jon Favreau, and Teller, the silent partner in the magic duo Penn & Teller, have praised Tesla or promoted the brand to their social-media followers in an increasingly fragmented media market.

Teller’s “customer story” is one of several that can be read in full on Tesla’s website. Oprah shared photographs of her recently purchased white Model S with her millions of followers on Instagram and Twitter. Colbert talked in detail about autopilot — a Tesla product announcement — just as it came out.

“On a daily basis, Stephen brings a smart comedic voice to all types of topical issues,” said CBS in a statement. “We don’t tell him what to say, but we certainly enjoy it.”

Automotive advertising

Other automakers usually have to rely on traditional marketing. General Motors, Ford Motor Co. and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles all rank among the top 10 advertisers in the U.S. in terms of money spent, according to Advertising Age, an affiliate of Automotive News. In 2014 alone, GM spent almost $1.7 billion on advertising in the U.S., according to Kantar Media; Ford spent $841 million and Fiat Chrysler spent $1.1 billion. Those figures are just from the manufacturers and don’t include the vast millions that dealerships spend as well.

In its annual report filed earlier this year, Tesla notes that “we have been able to generate significant media coverage of our company and our vehicles, and we believe we will continue to do so.” But the Palo Alto, Calif.-based company also notes that “to further promote our brand, we may be required to change our marketing practices, which could result in substantially increased advertising expenses.”

For now at least, Tesla’s strategy is working.

“Colbert benefits from talking about Tesla, because it’s a brand that his millennial audience associates with,” Milton Pedraza, CEO of the Luxury Institute, said in an interview. “It’s a massive multiplier effect that is equivalent to spending tens of millions of dollars on media. Tesla doesn’t advertise: They are playing the game of not playing the game, and you win by that. They are doing it brilliantly.”

Source: http://www.autonews.com/article/20151022/RETAIL03/151029937/tesla-musk-shine-from-free-celebrity-marketing-but-will-it-last

Women neglected by marketers despite making two-thirds of household purchases

Luxury Daily
October 22, 2015
By: Staff Reports

Brands in the apparel, personal care and footwear sectors are among the best at marketing to affluent women, according to research by Luxury Institute.

The best industries targeting affluent women through advertising and social media do not come as a surprise, but it does shine a light on the sectors that are not doing well at focusing their attentions on this demographic of wealthy consumers. Survey respondents felt that the industries doing the least to target affluent women include insurance, liquor, consumer electronics, banks and brokerages and transportation including automobiles and private jets.

Luxury Institute surveyed women ranging in age from 21-years-old to more than 65-years-old with a household income minimum of $150,000 per year. The respondent pool’s had a reported average household income of $289,000, and a $2.9 million average net worth.

A battle of the affluent sexes
When it comes to marketing to a female demographic, brands in apparel (75 percent), shampoos and conditioners (74 percent), fragrances and cosmetics (72 percent) and footwear (72 percent) unsurprisingly fared the best.

In regard to the industries that are failing at capitalizing on the purchasing power of affluent women, each had an approval rating of less than 5 percent. This approval rating has continued to fall since 2012.

Efforts put forth by automotive brands, for instance, have only impressed 6 percent of the female respondents. Although traditionally associated with a masculine culture, the auto industry should expand its marketing efforts to cater to the sentiments of its female consumers, especially those with families, by touting the safety of high-end vehicles.

On the corporate side, automakers have made strides in being more inclusive of females in general. For instance, British automaker Aston Martin looked to close the gender gap in engineering by teaming up the Royal Air Force to introduce female students to various career routes (see story).

Sectors improving outreach to female consumers include the jewelry and watch sector, which has seen the largest improvement over the past three years. Sixty-two percent of respondents felt that these brands do a good job marketing to their demographic, a 53 percent increase from 2012.

In addition, department stores are listed sixth, with 60 percent of affluent women appreciating the efforts put forth by retailers.

Lux institute.womens marketing graph
Graph provided by Luxury Institute 

Across the board, older affluent women aged 45-64 felt that brands across industries are doing well when marketing to their demographic. This response was much more likely from the older age group than it was for women 45-years-old and under.

But, 25 percent of women 21- to 44-years-old felt that the wine industry is not doing enough, or not marketing to them well enough. This propensity decreases with age, with 21 percent of 45- to 54-year-olds, 16 percent of those between the ages of 55 and 64 and 12 percent ages 65 or older approve of the wine category’s marketing efforts.

In a statement, Luxury Institute CEO Milton Pedraza said, “Married women tell us that they make two-thirds of all household purchasing decisions. Women maintain huge economic power and it is a necessity for companies to step up marketing and how they connect with affluent women regardless of industry. Research that includes speaking directly with these women about what appeals to them and what turns them off removes much of the guesswork in making marketing decisions.”

Source: http://www.luxurydaily.com/women-neglected-by-marketers-despite-making-two-thirds-of-household-purchases/ 

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

September 30, 2015

Ralph Lauren hires Old Navy executive to replace him as CEO

Reuters
By: Siddharth Cavale and Kylie Gumpert
September 29, 2015

American designer Ralph Lauren, who built a fashion powerhouse on luxury designs inspired by country club chic, announced Tuesday he is stepping down as chief executive officer and named the head of Gap Inc’s populist Old Navy brand to the position.

Ralph Lauren Corp, founded by 75-year-old Lauren in 1967, appointed Stefan Larsson, the global president of Gap’s Old Navy division, as CEO effective in November. Lauren will continue to serve as executive chairman and head its design team, the company said in a statement.

Lauren, who got his start designing neckties, plans to stay active at the company and Larsson will report to him.

“When they start designing things I can’t understand, I’ll quit,” Lauren told the New York Times in an interview.

Ralph Lauren shares rose 3.79 percent to $108 in trading after the bell. Gap shares fell 3 percent to $29.30.

The company has been struggling to boost profits as a stronger dollar reduces the value of sales from overseas. Net revenue in its first quarter ended June 27 fell 5 percent, mainly due to currency fluctuations.

Odeon Capital analyst Rick Snyder said the company had grown to a size where it needed more “systems and controls.” The change in CEO “is just a natural progression,” Snyder said.

Milton Pedraza, a fashion industry analyst at the Luxury Institute, said Larsson’s appointment follows a trend of luxury brands hiring leaders from mass-market companies in recent months. He cited the appointment of Grita Loebsack, a former vice president at Unilever Plc, as CEO of Kering’s emerging brands, which include Stella McCartney and Gucci.

Larsson, 41, is credited with reviving sales at Old Navy, successfully implementing a model of offering trendy clothes at low prices.

Annual sales at the division rose 8 percent in 2014 and became Gap’s biggest business. Sales for the division were $6.62 billion, or 40.3 percent of Gap’s total.

Lauren’s fashion empire includes some 25 brands including Polo, Club Monaco and Denim & Supply, and the company makes clothing, accessories, furniture, home decor items and footwear under its labels.

Larsson, a Swede who before joining Gap was global head of sales at Hennes & Mauritz, brings experience of managing a fast fashion business with a supply chains considered to be among the most efficient within the apparel industry.

His appointment would be a good fit for Ralph Lauren which is seeking to reorganize and centralize business units and brands, Snyder said.

“If he comes from a place like H&M, he understands global supply chains and that’s one of the things that Ralph Lauren is trying to implement right now,” Snyder said. “It’s going to be very positive for them.”

Despite the aura of Anglo-Saxon elitism around his company, Lauren was born Ralph Lifshitz in the Bronx in 1939. His parents were Jewish immigrants from Belarus, and he changed his name to Lauren at age 16.

Lauren’s designs drew inspiration from elite and exotic realms including East Coast prepsters, the Wild West, colonists on African safari and czarist Russia. He designed the wardrobe for the 1974 film version of “The Great Gatsby” including a pink suit for star Robert Redford.

The Ralph Lauren Polo shirt, which debuted in 1972, became a signature item for the company with a tiny polo player embroidered on the chest.

His designs have been worn by presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton, actress Gwyneth Paltrow and actor Johnny Depp.

Lauren was also, perhaps surprisingly, influential in the hip hop world. His bright colors and bold clothing became staples for some New York gangs, and rappers such as Kanye West and Lil Wayne have mentioned Lauren and his designs in their rhymes.

The company also said that Jackwyn Nemerov, chief operating officer, would retire in November at which time she will become an adviser to the company.

Source: http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/09/30/us-ralph-lauren-ceo-idUSKCN0RT2NO20150930

September 17, 2015

What The Apple Watch Hermès Tells Us About the Future of Tech and Luxury

ForbesLife
By: Eustacia Huen
September 17, 2015

Last week, Apple unveiled Apple Watch Hermès, a new collection of Apple watches that links the tech giant with French fashion house Hermès for a striking opening act to fashion month. The new watches in stainless steel feature an etching of Hermès signature and a customizable face with three exclusive dial designs inspired by Clipper, Cape Cod and Espace Hermès watches.

Joined by the brands’ mutual focus on design, the Apple Watch Hermès is a result of what Pierre-Alexis Dumas, artistic director of Hermès called “an alliance in excellence; like horse and carriage, a perfect team.” Beyond the obvious strategic move of two companies at the top of their games, the partnership holds implications about the future of tech and luxury.

First of all, there is the obvious progression of tech products becoming more luxury-oriented, and luxury products becoming more tech-oriented. The Apple Watch is unique for having no visible Apple logo when the product is being worn. Giving Hermès the limelight, Apple is able to reach out to an affluent yet fashion-centric audience that was not previously reachable. Coupled with the fact that Apple shelled out for plenty of advertising pages in Vogue and delivered devices to models, the brand sends a clear signal that it’s trying to sell the Apple watch to the fashion world. As for Hermès, a 178-year-old brand famous for its iconic handbags and leather goods, entering any partnership like this is a rare yet strong statement that it wants to be viewed as contemporary.

With Apple wanting a luxurious edge, and Hermès hoping to branch out from their ‘wealthy grandmother and mother’ clientele, the Apple-Hermès partnership also informs us about the millennial demographic targeted by both companies, according to Milton Pedraza, CEO of the Luxury Institute.

Perhaps the best way to understand the demographic, as the luxury expert noticed, is the pricing of the watches. Ranging from $1,100 for the 38mm stainless steel case with the Single Tour (single band) to $1,500 for the 42mm stainless steel case with the cuff, the Apple Watch Hermès is not the most expensive watch for either brands.

While I think the Apple Watch Hermès could benefit from more refined elements from Hermès and more technological features from Apple, it’s a decent first attempt nonetheless. According to Pedraza, the collaboration is significant as it marks the transitional period before millennials become fully capable as primary consumers. And during this “period of positive disruption and innovation,” there are a few things he said we should expect: “Even fewer people will visit actual stores, and future products—whether they are in the tech or luxury market—will become more experiential.”

Source: http://www.forbes.com/sites/eustaciahuen/2015/09/17/what-the-apple-watch-hermes-tells-us-about-the-future-of-tech-and-luxury/

August 24, 2015

Affluent Millennials Setting Their Own Pace

U.S. News and World Report
By: Mallory Hughes
August 20, 2015

Chris Beauregard, 25, recently found himself at a chic rooftop pool party in Washington. With the Capitol dome in the background, young professionals watched an exclusive Dar Be Dar by Tala Raassi summer fashion show while sipping complimentary DeLeón Tequila cocktails.

“I brought seven other friends with me,” says Beauregard. “Everybody had a blast.”

It’s a setting that is becoming common for a subset of the Millennial generation known as the “affluent Millennials.”

The 6.2 million 18- to 34-year-olds who report annual household incomes of more than $100,000 are acting out the aspirational lifestyle of their cohort because they have the financial means to do so, said Leah Swartz, a content specialist at FutureCast, a marketing firm focused on Generation Y.

“It’s not that they’re so different from Millennials,” says Swartz. “It’s that they’re acting on these aspirational trends that we see take shape in the general population.”

Many among the 80 million Millennials say that they eat organically and travel frequently, but a majority still live on a limited budget, hitting up big retailers for bargain prices.

Rather than focusing solely on what they can buy, Millennials create experiences and “shareable moments with friends,” Swartz says.

It’s a generation that was the first to embrace trends like going digital and using social, but it is the affluent among it that have more impact because they’re the ones commenting on review sites and engaging with brands on social media.

“We’re seeing them take on the influential role among the Millennial population,” she says, adding that affluent Millennials are 10 percent more likely to participate in online rating sites than their non-affluent peers.

“It’s likely because they can do more and because their budgets allow for it,” Swartz said.

Business and finance are the most common career paths for these people, but affluent Millennials are shifting post-graduate educational trends.

The research found that 44 percent of the 6.2 million affluent Millennials did not graduate from college. Of those that completed college and went on to graduate school, nearly 4 percent didn’t complete that education. While these numbers are high, affluent Millennials still graduate from college and grad programs at higher rates than their non-affluent counterparts.

“When you think of Boomers or even a little bit Gen-X,” Swartz says, “money was very much linked to degrees and higher education.”

But these Millennials don’t necessarily see the connection. FutureCast researchers in Kansas City found that young adults in the affluent subset are more interested in quickly putting the knowledge gained in their undergraduate programs to use in the workforce.

“They’re seeing more value in entrepreneurialism rather than continuing education,” Swartz says.

Billy McFarland, a 23-year-old tech entrepreneur, began his undergraduate education at Bucknell University planning on studying computer engineering. He dropped out after a year.

“I never really focused on school the way I should,” McFarland said in a phone interview. “But I finally went to college, I was living alone, and realized I could start companies full-time and not worry about school. It was an easy decision.”

Most recently, McFarland founded two companies: Spling, a tech-driven advertising platform, and Magnises, a mobile concierge app geared toward Millennials.

Magnises, McFarland says, has nearly 7,000 members stemming from 25,000 applicants. Approximately 90 percent of members using the app are 21 to 35 years old, with self-reported annual incomes of $50,000 to $250,000.

The $250 per year membership comes with a black metal membership card, a community hangout out and the concierge app with recommendations on what to do with one’s free time and the ability to make a reservation at a suggested place.

This generation travels more and values events, services and experiences over goods, says Milton Pedraza, CEO of the Luxury Institute, a global research firm focusing on luxury goods.

One example is SoulCycle, the trendy New York City-based fitness company hosting 45-minute spin classes that feel more like being on a dance floor than in a cycling studio. Millennials aren’t buying the expensive bike so they can go cycle the hillsides outdoors; they’re buying the experience.

Pedraza says he thinks Millennials are drawn to events they can share with “people who are their peers, who share their values, who share their standards of living and who share their tastes.”

But if Millennials are trendsetters, don’t they want to find the best places to go — and be first ones on the scene? Isn’t an app, such as Magnises, that suggests the hottest hangouts in some of America’s biggest cities and sends 20-somethings flocking in that direction kind of, well, mainstream?

“I think there’s recognition that that’s going to inevitably happen,” Pedraza says. “If something’s really good it’s going to be swarmed—Millennials swarmed.”

Source: http://www.usnews.com/news/articles/2015/08/20/affluent-millennials-setting-their-own-pace 

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