Luxury Institute News

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.”


She Who Controls the Purse Strings

October 22, 2015
By: Danielle Max

There’s good news from a recent survey released by the Luxury Institute, which revealed that watch and jewelry companies are more successfully marketing to affluent women these days. In fact, 62 percent of respondents said that these companies do a good job of marketing to them; up from 53 percent in 2012.

The research from the New York-based Luxury Institute ranks industries and specific brands based on their success marketing to women with a minimum household income of $150,000 per year. Respondents reported average household income of $289,000, and a $2.9 million average net worth, so these are exactly the sort of households that the diamond and jewelry industries need to be targeting.

Overall, the watch and jewelry category ranks fifth among industries trying to sell their goods to women – and, given that high-ticket items such as watches and jewelry are not exactly a spur of the moment purchase – that seems pretty good to me.

The top four industries most frequently viewed as doing a good job marketing to women from high-income households through advertising and social media are clothing (75%), shampoos and conditioners (74%), fragrances and cosmetics (72%) and shoes (72%).

And it seems that marketeers overall are doing a better job of selling to what is clearly a key demographic. The Luxury Institute says that compared to 2012, each of these categories enjoys a wider share of women who view their marketing efforts favorably.

However, lest you think the gender gap is a thing of the past, among the industries that affluent women say are doing the poorest jobs of marketing to them are insurance, liquor, electronics, banks, brokerages and private jets, each of which earns an approval rating of less than 5 percent and has fallen in approval since 2012.

In addition, the automobile industry also needs to stop thinking (and acting as if) men hold the purse strings. Apparently, only 6 percent of women are impressed by the efforts of car companies to market to them.

Of course, it’s not just money that comes into play in such issues. According to the research, affluent women in the 45-64 age bracket are much more likely than women under the age of 45 to say that companies are doing well in marketing specifically to them.

Part of the problem seems to be that companies just don’t seem to realize who they should be targeting. The Luxury Institute specifically singles out married women who, according to its research, 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,” says Luxury Institute CEO Milton Pedraza. “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.”

We couldn’t agree more.

Have a fabulous weekend.


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.”


October 3, 2015

Can a fast fashion vet steer Ralph Lauren’s ship?

Retail Wire
By: Tom Ryan
October 2, 2015

Shocking many fashion insiders, Ralph Lauren Corp. hired Stefan Larsson, a former H&M executive and president of Old Navy, to replace Ralph Lauren as CEO.

Mr. Lauren, 75, will remain active as executive chairman and chief creative officer and is expected to continue to oversee the luxury side. Mr. Larsson will report to Mr. Lauren in what’s described as a “partnership.”

Mr. Larsson, 41, is credited with reviving Old Navy after taking over in 2012 with a focus on upgrading design and bringing over some quick-turnaround supply chain tricks he learned in his 15 years at H&M. He takes over as CEO of Ralph Lauren Corp. in November.

Ralph Lauren Corp.’s revenues slid 5.3 percent in the second quarter due to a strengthening dollar that affected both overseas profits and tourist traffic at its stores in the U.S. The company has also faced heightened competition in the luxury channel this year. Shares are down around 40 percent this year.

The recruitment of Mr. Larsson was the latest example of the insular luxury industry looking outside for talent. LVMH recently hired an Apple executive as chief digital officer, Chanel SA’s CEO spent 15 years at Gap, and Grita Loebsack, a former VP at Unilever Plc, was recently hired as CEO of Kering’s emerging brands, which include Stella McCartney and Gucci.

Stefan Larsson
Stefan Larsson – Photo: Gap, Inc.

“You see a lot of luxury brands now recruiting from other industries,” Milton Pedraza, the CEO of the Luxury Institute, a research firm, told The Wall Street Journal. “They need executives with skills the luxury industry doesn’t necessarily have such as an expertise in global distribution or digital marketing.”

Mr. Larsson, who is Swedish, is expected to be useful in expanding Ralph Lauren’s business overseas. An outside CEO may also make aggressive calls to reduce expenses and bring more sophistication to an organization.

Odeon Capital analyst Rick Snyder told Reuters the company had grown to a size where it needed more “systems and controls.”

The New York Times said that for the legendary designer, the hiring “indicates that he, at least, feels it is still important to separate the roles and have a professional manager running the brand and reassuring Wall Street.”

Still others felt the business model may be due for a more radical change, with department store growth slowing and fast-fashion retailers like H&M, Uniqlo and Zara leading fashion’s growth.

“Larsson has a track record of expanding very well,” longtime industry analyst Walter F. Loeb told the Daily News. “His contribution to Ralph Lauren will be global expansion and, more importantly, discipline within the company.”


August 14, 2015

Millennials’ wealth management preferences differ from boomers: report

Luxury Daily
By: Kay Sorin
August 14, 2015

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


August 10, 2015

The Death of the Swiss Fine Timepiece Has Been Greatly Exaggerated

The Lilian Raji Agency
By: Lilian Raji
August 10, 2015

Late last month, Edward Faber, co-owner of Aaron Faber Gallery and author of  American Wristwatches: Five Decades of Style and Design,  Gary Girdvainis, editor of WristWatch magazine and AboutTime magazineand Jeffrey Hess, CEO of Ball Watch USAMilton Pedraza, CEO and Founder of The Luxury Institute, and Jason Alan Snyder, Chief Technology Officer of Momentum Worldwide reconvened Aaron Faber Gallery’s annual Watch Collectors’ Roundtable to debate the question, “Will Smartwatches Disrupt the Swiss Watch Industry?” The Roundtable was moderated by Eleven James CEO, Randy Brandoff.

With the recent  release of a report by market research firm Slice Intelligence announcing that Apple watch sales have declined 90% since their initial launch, the unanimous predictions of the Roundtable panelists has been proven accurate:  no, smartwatches will not disrupt the Swiss watch industry.

What the panelists couldn’t agree on, however, was if smartwatches would impact the industry in any way.

  • Jeff Hess, who also owns Hess Fine Art, noted his customers have been coming in wearing a smartwatch on one wrist and a fine Swiss timepiece on the other.  In this, there seems to be the possibility of harmony between the two types of watches.
  • Edward Faber asserted that a smartwatch will never seem as prestigious as walking into a boardroom wearing a Rolex Presidential or other high status watch.  Smartwatches will only be a gadget.
  • Milton Pedraza agrees on the novelty factor of watches, but didn’t dismiss that smartwatches could ultimately be more a fashion statement than a power statement.
  • Gary Girdvainis predicted that smartwatches would ultimately become gateways for the millennials who gave up watches for their smartphones to now begin entertaining the idea of wearing a watch.  When these same millennials reach their 30s, after spending the last few years wearing a smartwatch, graduating to a Swiss timepiece will be their next step.
  • For tech industry expert, Jason Alan Snyder, smartwatches are about functionality and features.  They are about advancing technology to make our lives easier. The debate shouldn’t be about smartwatches vs timepieces, they should be about smartwatches and all the major advancements going on in technology.

As Randy Brandoff moderated the panel, addressing such issues as the future of the watch industry for collectors, what future technological functions make sense for wristwear and Swiss watch manufacturers pursuing their own smartwatches, panelists made predictions and gave insights that will make many watch, technology and luxury industry people “wait and see” over the next few months as smartwatches set the stage for the evolution of how people tell time.

Click the link to watch the video of the roundtable for quotes by Milton Pedraza, CEO of Luxury Institute: The Watch Collectors’ Roundtable – Will Smart Watches Disrupt the Swiss Watch Industry?

To learn more about the Roundtable at or contact The Lilian Raji Agency at or (646) 789-4427.

July 10, 2015

Tesla Hires Ex-Burberry Executive to Lead North American Sales

Bloomberg Business
By: Dana Hull
July 10, 2015

Tesla Motors Inc. has hired former Burberry senior vice president Ganesh Srivats, adding a sales executive to help the electric-car maker extend its reputation for automotive luxury to an increasingly global audience.
Srivats, whose position as vice president for North American sales was confirmed Thursday by the company, will help Tesla deepen its already formidable brand into a premium lifestyle experience to go with its high-tech image, taking a cue from the kind of marketing BMW, Porsche and Ferrari have done.

“This makes all the sense in the world,” said Scott Galloway, a professor of marketing at New York University’s Stern School of Business, in a phone interview. “Tesla is not an automobile company, it’s a luxury company.”
Srivats joins the automaker from a British fashion house known for its heritage plaid cashmere scarf and trench coats as well as digital savvy. Apple Inc. hired former Burberry Group Plc Chief Executive Officer Angela Ahrendts as head of its retail operations in 2013.

The new Tesla executive held strategy and retail posts for Burberry starting in 2009 and most recently was senior vice president for retail in the Americas, according to his LinkedIn profile.

The North American sales job is a newly filled position for Tesla. The Palo Alto, California-based company said in March that it was reassigning Jerome Guillen, who was vice president of global sales and service, to a role focused on delivery and long-term customer care and would hire new executives to lead the sales operations by region.

Sales Target

Tesla plans to introduce its Model X SUV late in this quarter and says it will sell 55,000 vehicles worldwide this year. The automaker ended the first half with 21,552, about 40 percent of the target.
Tesla doesn’t have dealerships and sells its products directly to consumers via stores and galleries. It doesn’t pay for traditional advertising and relies heavily on free media and word-of-mouth among its customers, many of them tech-savvy early adopters.

“Srivats absolutely brings a client-centric approach to doing business,” said Milton Padraza, chief executive officer of the Luxury Institute, in a phone interview. “It’s about long-term relationships, not a transaction. Burberry is the master of client relationships.”

Digital Innovation

Burberry was one of the first luxury brands to embrace digital innovation, from live-streaming runway shows to launching on Periscope. The London-based company has had a makeover in the past five years, moving from conservative high-end fashion to haute couture, said Ken Harris, managing partner at Cadent Consulting Group in Chicago, which advises consumer and retail companies.

“If Tesla is thinking that they are selling a lifestyle and a way of thinking, then someone from Burberry could be the right choice,” Harris said in a phone interview. “Burberry gets lifestyle.”
The 159-year-old company with a “distinctly British attitude” has more than 4 million followers on Twitter and is led by Christopher Bailey, a 44-year-old designer who had been the company’s chief creative officer.

High-end automakers like to push expensive clothing and accessories to boost revenue and deepen their relationships with affluent customers. Besides T-shirts and messenger bags, Tesla has the Tesla Design Collection, which includes a $300 tote bag, $100 sheepskin leather driving gloves and a $40 iPhone sleeve.

Similarly, Porsche sells watches, luggage and other accessories under the Porsche Design brand. Ferrari also offers clothing, shoes and even a cigar box under its brand name. BMW and its Mini brand also sell pricey accouterments.


June 24, 2015

7 Insights Into Today’s Jewelry Shoppers

JCK Magazine
By: Rob Bates
June 23, 2015

Even shoppers used to shopping online can be turned into loyal brick-and-mortar customers with the right experience, according to a new survey of high-income shoppers from the Luxury Institute.

Milton Pedraza, CEO of the Luxury Institute, says that retailers today need to focus on building relationships—both on- and offline. His survey quizzed consumers with an average income of $289,000, and $2.9 million average net worth.

Among its findings:

—Women still prefer to browse for jewelry at stores.

Forty-nine percent of female respondents prefer to shop in store before deciding what jewelry to buy, and are more likely to enter stores without a sense of what they want or looking online.

“Woman are still very open to having an experience,” says Pedraza. “Jewelry isn’t a commodity product. Jewelry and watches are more experiential than other luxury goods. Consumers may research online but they still want to experience your store. They place great value in the discovery process.

—That’s less true for men.

By contrast, only 21 percent of men relied primarily on in-store shopping to make a decision. Twenty-eight percent of watch-buying men said they entered stores knowing precisely what to buy. Still, 37 percent of men wanted assistance from sales staff for jewelry purchases; 33 percent felt the same way about watches. But 38 percent preferred to get the information online.

“Most men don’t enjoy the experience of buying in a jewelry store,” says Pedraza. “They are more tightly focused and less willing to change. Though that is mostly older men; I’d say young men are more likely to change their mind. Of course those are stereotypes but they are still valid.”

—The in-store experience is more critical than ever.

“Customers enjoy the in-store experience, but we have so many retailers that are drone-like and similar,” he says. “Retailers have to be Disney. A long time ago there were just amusement parks and then Disney reinvented them. Luxury retailers have to reinvent themselves.”

That means stocking unique products and upgrading your associates, plus trying to make your store look and seem different. He points to Warby Parker’s innovative new eyeglass shops, whose sales per square foot now rival Tiffany’s, as an example.

—A key part of your store experience: Your store associates.

One quarter of women shoppers say they want a sales associate to help them purchase. But the quality of the associate makes the difference, Pedraza says.

“The industry is hiring people as opposed to selecting people,” he says. “We need to help associates to build skills, and compensate them for the long-term. I was talking to someone and he was complaining his people leave. I said of course they leave, they don’t feel respected, they don’t feel they are valued. If you pay a little extra you can have them really engage with customers and help build the brand.”

—Customers want great service, regardless of channel.

“You can’t stop people from going online,” he says. “It’s all about building relationships, no matter what the channel is. It’s making people feel special. You can create wonderful long distance relationships with online shoppers, the same way we do in our personal lives.”

—There are no “tricks” to servicing Millennails.

“We say millennials are so different,” Pedraza says. “But increasingly they are the same, especially as they get into their 30s, and they have kids and aging parents.

“So it’s not as much about treating millenials differently,” he adds. “It’s about treating them as individuals. It’s about digging deep. I always ask millennials if they want sales associates to help them and they do. But they mostly see them as unprepared and not trustworthy.”

—Price is not the most important factor.

“There is still a tremendous opportunity not to sell on discount,” Pedraza says, “but to sell on value, craftsmanship, design, a story, and the engagement with another human being. All of those elements are not about price. There is still a tremendous opportunity for stores to really forge relationships with consumers.”


June 18, 2015

Smartwatch debate has strapped timepieces back on wearers’ wrists

Luxury Daily
By: Jen King
June 18, 2015

NEW YORK – Panelists during the Watch Collectors’ Roundtable discussion agreed that the introduction of the smartwatch, though originally daunting, may be the best thing to happen to the traditional Swiss watch industry since the quartz.

Held on June 16 at the Aaron Faber Gallery, the “Will smartwatches disrupt the Swiss watch industry” panel debated whether or not the smartwatch will have lasting impact with different perspectives from timepiece sellers, collectors and manufacturers to proponents of wearable technology. Although not agreeing on all fronts, the panelists expressed a sense of gratitude toward Apple, and others in the tech space, for putting traditional watches back into the conversation.

“I cannot even count how many hours of debate [smartwatches have] sparked in our offices, with our members and prospects,” said Randy Brandoff, CEO and founder of Eleven James, New York.

“No matter what one thinks about the technology of today, and where one thinks it’s going in the future, if you’re a lover of wristwatches, mechanical or otherwise, I think the aggregate takeaway is that this is a good thing,” he said. “More than anytime I can remember everyone I know has sparked up a conversation about watches, what this means, where are they going and how useful are they.”

Mr. Brandoff acted as the moderator for the panel discussion.

Ticking talk

The panel discussion delved into the fundamental issues and questions surrounding the wearable category and how, if at all, the technology will affect traditional Swiss watch brands.

Each panelist said that mechanical timepieces have been worn as a way to distinguish someone from a crowd, but Apple Watch, and others like it, will become commonplace with only the high-end model, the Edition, being seen as unique.

But, the wearable model is not as practical or as sound of an investment as a mechanical watch because the technology within will become outdated. In comparison, the technology in a timepiece has gone relatively unchanged for hundreds of years, resulting in a time-tested science that has yet to become obsolete.

The general consensus among the participants was that watches, smart or otherwise, have placed wearables on the wrists of consumers who otherwise would not have considered a timepiece. This consumer sector is made mostly of millennial consumers who have grown up in a virtual era where timekeeping is predominantly done by mobile and smartphones.

Comparably, the introduction of quartz timepieces in the 1970s had a similar outcome with consumers gravitating toward the new technology and away from traditional mechanical watches. As with in the past, consumer sentiment changed as the first wave of interested wearers matured and returned focus to tradition, but not without testing the technologically advanced waters first.

Also, the panelists felt that the disposable nature of the smartwatch also plays into the quartz comparisons. The quartz watch went from cutting edge technology to available as a free prize at the bottom of a cereal box, thus making the innovation diluted.

Just as with a smartphone, the smartwatch will be void of emotional ties while traditional timepieces can have profound meaning for wearers because they can mark a personal milestone or be passed down along generations.

“I think the whole thing is a bit of an evolution right now,” said Jason Alan Snyder , chief technology officer of Momentum Worldwide, New York. “Horology as the science of measuring time really has nothing to do with wearables.

“Wearables are fundamentally an extension of a smartphone at this time,” he said. “But, really beyond that it’s a small visual signatures of what’s happening on your smartphone right now.

“I think that the social capital derived from wearing a fine Swiss timepiece is very different than social capital derived from wearing a smartwatch. I think those two things may converge at some point in the future, but for right now it’s the difference between luxury and utility, and they’re very different ideas.”

Tech as craftsmanship
For the luxury industry, whether it is timepieces or leather goods, the panelists noted that longevity propels the industry through style, and it is that combination that results in consumer desire.

Additionally, luxury goods are described as made by the hands of skilled artisans, but Sir Jonathan Ive of Apple argued at the Condé Nast International Luxury Conference April 22 that all devices, even those in the technology space, have handcrafted elements.

Whether the Apple Watch will prove disruptive to the traditional watch industry has yet to be fully determined, but the degree of quality behind Apple’s first wearable technology is clear (see story). Apple extensively researched the materials for the watch, especially its gold components, and feels that it is a false assumption to assume those in the technology space do not dedicate the same sense of quality to products as traditional luxury houses (see story).

Regardless, mechanical watchmakers have melded traditional horology with technological innovations ranging from synced mobile applications, strapped adaptations and fully connected timepieces.

For example, Swiss watchmaker Breitling is taking the smartwatch concept to new heights with its flight-ready B55 Connected timepiece.

Smartwatches are often synced to a smartphone application that tracks the wearer’s physical activity and sends push notifications (see story). Breitling has taken the opposite approach by having the smartphone service the B55 Connected chronograph to enhance functionality and conviviality.

Also, LVMH-owned Tag Heuer announced its creative partnership between its manufacturer, Google and Intel at Baselworld 2015.

The partnership signifies a new era of collaboration between Swiss watchmakers and Silicon Valley to escalate the expertise of each brand whether it be watchmaking, software or hardware. From the first utterance of wearables, many horologists agreed that collaborative efforts between tradition and technology would yield competitive results (see story).

Since watches are statement pieces of movements and mechanisms, sparking innovation aligns with the heritage of horology and is worth exploring. But, as it stands today the Swiss watch industry will prevail, even becoming more collectable due to wearables.

“I think the category will grow because of Apple’s new entry into the category,” said Milton Pedraza, CEO and founder of The Luxury Institute, New York.

“The Apple Watch will evolve into something more compelling, today it’s not,” he said. “I don’t think we have anything to worry about, however I terms of the luxury Swiss watch industry not only prevailing but thriving as a result.”


June 16, 2015

Meticulous Attention to Detail Elevates Craftsmanship of next Lincoln MKX

Business Wire
June 16, 2015

Overall quality is the top purchase reason for the Lincoln MKX, matching a study that shows 74 percent of wealthy consumers believe superior quality is a luxury product’s most important attribute

The new Lincoln MKX medium crossover, on sale this summer, reflects increased focus on attention to detail and improved craftsmanship in subtle executions.

Advanced models along with a state-of-the-art virtual reality lab are complemented by Lincoln craftsmanship engineers who meticulously pore over vehicles.

Craftsmanship helps define the overall quality of any luxury product. Customers of the Lincoln MKX, for example, cite overall quality as their No. 1 purchase reason for the medium crossover.

“Part of the role of the craftsmanship team is to address the intangible elements of quality – how the space makes you feel, your reaction when you get in and experience the vehicle.”

This desire is seen beyond automotive as well. A study by the Luxury Institute and Epsilon finds that 74 percent of wealthy consumers believe that superior quality is the most important attribute of a luxury product, followed by superior craftsmanship.

The new Lincoln MKX, on sale this summer, elevates craftsmanship by subtly fusing form and function, sometimes in areas not immediately seen or felt by the customer.

“Craftsmanship sits between the worlds of engineering and design,” said Stacy Swank, Lincoln craftsmanship supervisor. “Our role is to bring those worlds together to enhance the experience for the customer. We like to think that if you don’t notice what’s been done, then we’ve done our job.”

Some “hidden” improvements to the 2016 Lincoln MKX include:

  • Foam was added to the wrapped console side panels, providing a softer area for the leg to rest, and also added to the door armrests and steering wheel
  • Extra strength was added to the dead-pedal area – where a driver rests his/her left foot – to make the area more firm
  • Scuff materials in the door and tailgate were upgraded to stainless steel, which is more resistant to scratches and helps maintain a beautiful appearance

The 2016 Lincoln MKX offers available Bridge of Weir® Deepsoft leather, created specifically for Lincoln seating surfaces. Bridge of Weir Deepsoft leather goes through a 16-hour softening process, which is a considerably longer process than most automotive leathers. A hand-sewn and -stitched Wollsdorf® leather-wrapped steering wheel is available on higher-series vehicles.

The center console was redesigned to improve functionality while elevating craftsmanship.

The armrest includes a two-button clamshell execution. This arrangement allows for one button to open only the flocked storage with the tray and the other to open the main bin, creating a versatile storage option.

To increase the crafted appearance, the gooseneck hinge arms that connect the armrest and clamshell tray to the hinge are hidden.

Throughout the interior, the smallest areas were upgraded to higher levels of craftsmanship. To create a cleaner appearance where the A-pillar meets the headliner, for example, a 2.5-mm indent (the thickness of a couple of dimes) was created on the inside of the joint. This allowed the materials to align better.

Lincoln craftsmanship engineers review data at computer-aided-design stations, experience the vehicle in a virtual lab and pore over prototypes to help ensure quality. In the interior of the new Lincoln MKX, for example, there are more than 1,200 interfaces.

Reducing margins and eliminating sharp edges, cut lines, parting lines and visible fasteners – while using genuine wood and metal – drives fit and finish.

“The data, the science and the math help ensure everything fits together correctly and address the tangible elements of quality,” said Swank. “Part of the role of the craftsmanship team is to address the intangible elements of quality – how the space makes you feel, your reaction when you get in and experience the vehicle.”


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