Luxury Institute News

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 25, 2015

The unique way women shop luxury cosmetics

Cosmetics Design
By: Deanna Utroske
June 25, 2015

Luxury Institute, a New-York-based global luxury research provider, looked into buying practices of wealthy consumers and discovered that how affluent women shop beauty is exceptional.

Interestingly enough the institute saw fit to ask only women about their personal care shopping habits. All survey participants were questioned about buying apparel, shoes, and accessories in general as well as particularly about jewelry and watches.  While , only “wealthy women were…asked about beauty products and handbags”, according to a media release from the institute announcing the study findings.

The study compiles survey replies from respondents earning, on average, $289,000 annually and with an average net worth of $2,9m.


Women in this consumer group tend to depend on the in-store experience to make purchasing decisions, notes the Luxury Institute.

The survey findings show, however, that a fair number of such women would rather not have the advice of sales staff. Only about “one-fifth (19%) of wealthy women prefer to learn about products in-store with a sales associate’s help. “For cosmetics shoppers this number jumps to 29%.

Thus, “For wealthy women, visiting stores and looking at displays without help is the best method of finding out about new products in all luxury categories.”


Nonetheless, sales associates and the in-store creative and management team have a real relevance for luxury brands.

With multiple points of information, wealthy consumers have become very say shoppers, but our findings show that decisions,” says Milton Pedraza, Luxury Institute CEO.

Building rapport and trust with luxury shoppers can make a difference. Pedraza notes that, “with proper training in relationship building, along with incentives to produce, store personnel can provide a significant boost to sales across luxury categories.”


Online and mobile resources figure quit prominently in product discovery for affluent women. And fortunately for luxury cosmetic brands and beauty retailers, these shoppers are reliably visiting their sites for product information.

Browsing a store website is the second-most preferred method of shopping, with 32% of wealthy women reporting this is how they discover new products, while 23% say they do the same at manufacturer’s websites,” finds the Luxury Institute.


Source :


June 19, 2015

Will nearly 3M Apple Watches sold hurt Swiss watch industry? Meet some non-worriers

New York Business Journal
By: Teresa Novellino
June 18, 2015

It was meant to be a “debate “over whether the Apple Watch would impact the Swiss watch industry, but even the futurist on a Watch Collectors’ Roundtable panel assembled at the Aaron Faber Gallery in New York confessed to being a Rolex man.

Jason Alan Snyder, chief technology officer at global branding agency Momentum Worldwide, says he has tested out many versions of wearable tech, but tells time with a Swiss-made Rolex Datejust his father gave him which, combined with his smartphone screen, he considers to be “ample” for his day-to-day activities.

“The sort of capital you derive from wearing a timepiece is different from the sort of capital you derive from wearing a smartwatch.” Snyder said Tuesday night during a roundtable at the midtown Manhattan jewelry and vintage watch gallery. “Right now it’s the difference between luxury and utility and they’re very different ideas.”

According to a report just out today from Slice Intelligence, utility is selling to the tune of 2.8 million Apple Watches sold so far, with multiple bands being a popular add-on. Apple itself has never shared sales results on the watches, but yesterday it began allowing customers to actually buy the watches in store through a “reserve and pickup” service versus ordering them online.

The roundtable for watch enthusiasts, moderated by Randy Brandoff, founder and CEO of luxury watch subscription site Eleven James, was assembled to hash out concerns among collectors, retailers and others in the watch industry about the disruptive new entrant in a watch industry dominated by traditional players. Before the AppleWatch was released, the company’s design chief Jony Ive reportedly predicted the Apple Watch would mean trouble for the Swiss watch industry. Indeed, Apple stole a marketing page from the industry when stars like Beyoncé were shown wearing them. She posted a selfie of the gold version on Instagram.

Snyder pointed out that the functionality of the Apple Watch, particularly its ability to let people pay for items without out a credit card via Apple Pay would appeal to consumers seeking convenience. The health-related functionality is another lure. Wearables, in general, will evolve to become more incorporated in our lives, he said.

“I think the things we wear will become a part of ourselves in ways we can’t imagine,” he said. “The form it is taking now is a wristwatch, but it could also be something else, like a [miniaturized computer screen that you wear as a] contact in your eye.”

Some brands exhibiting in Switzerland at this year’s Baselworld, the world’s largest watch and jewelry show, met the Apple Watch challenge by saying they would be rolling out their own smartwatches. TAG Heuer, for instance, is partnering with Google and Intel on its version.

“I think it’s a huge over reaction, I don’t think there’s a place for it,” said Jeffrey Hess, CEO of Ball Watch USA. “There are a lot of watch brands that are afraid to not be on the boat.”

Hess, who ran an ad for his watches in Wired magazine, said he got a great response, which he interprets as proof positive that tech geeks like luxury watches too.

Others on the panel seemed similarly skeptical that the Apple Watch would actually eat into their sales. Among them was the roundtable’s host Edward Faber, co-owner of Aaron Faber Gallery, who said Millennial customers seek out the unique and collectible vintage mechanical watches that he sells.

“People want to distinguish themselves whether they’re in a business environment or social setting,” said Faber, author of American Wristwatches: Five Decades of Style and Design. “Soon, the Apple Watch will be everywhere but the luxury watch will continue to stand out.”

Milton Pedraza, chief executive officer and founder of the Luxury Institute, said he wouldn’t “discount the possibility of a surge,” in sales for the Apple Watch, but the first version didn’t seem like something that could compete with a Swiss timepiece. He sees it more a subcategory within the industry.

“The Apple Watch will evolve into something compelling. Today, it is not,” Pedraza said. He also predicted that Millennials, as they age, would become watch collectors, just like their Baby Boomer parents, even if they also own a smartwatch.

“It won’t be this or that, it will be this and that,” Pedraza said. “I see an opportunity to make this luxury [category] larger and I’m not worried about the watch industry at all.

But if the fears of Apple Watch competition have the Swiss watch brands concerned and reacting defensively, he sees it as good thing.

“If TAG Heuer fails, so be it,” he said. “They’ll be better off for it because they tried.”


June 8, 2015

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

Advertising Age
June 5, 2015

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


June 5, 2015

When is Luxury not Luxury?

June 4th, 2015

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

After all, haters gonna hate.

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


March 30, 2015

Digital channels influenced $1.5T in-store sales in 2014: report

Luxury Daily
By: Nancy Buckley
March 30, 2015

More than 70 percent of consumers expect brand digital channels to have knowledge of in-store product availability, according to a new report by L2.

Accommodating both digital and in-store trends requires brands to adapt to e-commerce expectations of click-and-collect or free shipping, but also adhere to in-store demands. Many traditional brands face pressure from online retailers to offer better options for consumers turning to digital for both browsing and shopping.

“While luxury fashion in the past required a high touch, in person sale, things have changed,” said Eleanor Powers, director, Insight Reports, L2. “Overall fashion brands are still focused on online e-commerce conversion (e.g. by providing free shipping options).”

Channel options
Prior to interaction with a sales associate, 80 percent of United States consumers know what they want and how much they plan to spend. This knowledge stems from Web rooming, a concept that should be encouraged by brands because it leads to 40 percent higher conversions.

Digital channels effect 50 percent of in-store sales, despite direct-to-consumer ecommerce only accounting for 4 percent of sales.

Ecommerce is being challenged by larger online retailers. When British retailer AllSaints began accepting Amazon Payments there was concern among fashion brands, which escalated with the rumors surrounding Amazon and Net-A-Porter.

Amazon may be in talks to purchase Net-A-Porter, if reports that have been rumored are true.

The etail giant has been unsuccessful in entering the luxury industry in spite of attempts in recent years, and this potential acquisition could be significant for the future of both companies. The impact that this purchase could have on Net-A-Porter is unclear, but the retailer has been not been profitable despite its popularity (see story).

Amazon Prime’s rewards encourage consumers to shop online and receive free shipping for an annual fee. The Prime membership concept has been adapted by ShopRunner, a platform used by one-fifth of luxury brands.

Without ShopRunner, consumers are shopping to a minimum spending level to receive free shipping, but even with that many consumers are pulled away from luxury brands to find less expensive items online.

Some brands, especially in Europe, offer click-to-collect. Without these options, consumers are Web rooming for products and then purchasing in-store. Even with this option, consumers expect brands to have easily accessible information about store availability.

Generational thing
Difference in digital options also vary across generations.

Consumers are split on their willingness to download luxury brand applications, but when dispersed into generations, 72 percent of millennials are inclined to download a branded app, according to a report from The Luxury Institute.

Digitization of the luxury world is slowly evolving as younger generations grow into being affluent consumers. Luxury clients differ across more than just generations, but understanding the prime and upcoming consumer can prepare marketing teams for the future (see story).

Changing to adapt to generational and technological changes requires brands to look internally and adapt within every channel.

“Brands also need to support the hand-off from digital to in-store to support a seamless shopping experience,” Ms. Powers said. “This requires investments in infrastructure for local inventory visibility and providing options for click-and-collect and in-store returns.”


March 10, 2015

Generational shift to luxury digital

Data sourced from Luxury Daily; additional content by Warc staff
March 10, 2015

NEW YORK: Affluent consumers in the US prefer to buy luxury goods in store but there is a discernible generational shift taking place as fewer millennials are concerned to shop this way with more inclined to explore options via an app.

A report from The Luxury Institute surveyed wealthy consumers in the US with a minimum household income of $150,000 per year and found that only 40% of millennials wanted especially to shop in store, while 72% would download a branded luxury app.

“There are clear generational differences where the boomers are less digital and millennials are extremely digital,” Milton Pedraza, CEO of The Luxury Institute told Luxury Daily.

“There is no one size all client experience,” he added, “and we have to understand the consumer not as a segment but as one individual, as a human being, in order to build a long-term relationship.”

That said, the differences leapt out in a number of statistics. Overall, 53% of luxury consumers did not download apps, while 47% did so, with most of these being in the younger generations.

Another instance came in social media, where almost two thirds (64%) of wealthy consumers didn’t follow any brands. But among millennials a similar proportion (68%) followed at least one brand and among Gen X the figure was 58%.

But more than one third (38%) of baby boomers also claimed to have downloaded branded luxury apps.

“Boomers are behind in digitalisation, [but] they are by no means not digital,” said Pedraza, “especially the highly educated global traveller.”

The Luxury Institute drew attention to the role of fashion bloggers in reaching and influencing the younger generation.

It found only 15% of boomers followed a fashion blogger compared to 62% of millennials. And followers had made an average of 4.2 purchases from blogger suggestions.

Even if these bloggers can find it difficult to maintain a leading edge position, Luxury Daily observed that their followings can compare favourably with magazines, the traditional influencer in luxury fashion.

The influence of technology is inexorably influencing purchase decisions in some way: 61% of all affluent consumers said it allowed them to make more purchases, while 65% said it was changing the way they shop with luxury brands.

Can Apple Sell Wealthy Shoppers on a Luxury Watch?

The New Yorker
By: Vauhini Vara
March 9, 2015

Because Apple first unveiled its smartwatch six months ago, and little has changed about the product since then, there wasn’t much for the company’s C.E.O., Tim Cook, to tell his audience on Monday, when he took the stage at a theatre in San Francisco for a follow-up event. Everyone already knew about the watch’s cool, if not necessarily essential, features and its stylish design. Cook did reveal one bit of news, though: the price of a high-end version of the watch, encased with a special kind of eighteen-karat gold that is, according to Apple, twice as hard as regular gold, will start at ten thousand dollars.

Apple had previously explained that there would be three different versions of the watch—Apple Watch Sport, Apple Watch, and Apple Watch Edition—but hadn’t disclosed how much each type would cost, beyond announcing that pricing for the least expensive model would begin at three hundred and forty-nine dollars. The Apple Watch Edition, with its gold casing, was expected to be expensive, but the ten-thousand-dollar starting price still took people by surprise; John Gruber, who runs Daring Fireball, a popular and authoritative Web site about Apple, had guessed that Edition watches might begin at seven thousand four hundred and ninety-nine dollars.

As I have written in the past, smartwatches are a bit confounding, as tech products go. People tend not to gravitate toward gadgets unless they fulfill some unmet need. But smartwatches don’t do anything that existing devices, like smartphones and fitness trackers, aren’t capable of, and it’s unclear whether the convenience factor—having the device strapped on your wrist rather than stuck in your pocket—will make up for that fact.

Apple executives seem aware of that pitfall, and so, while they have pitched the Apple Watch as a tech product, they have also taken another tack, as if to hedge their bet: marketing it as a high-end fashion item. Last year, when the watch was still only a rumor to the outside world, Apple hired Angela Ahrendts, the well-regarded former C.E.O. of Burberry, as its head of retail; the year before, Apple had convinced Paul Deneve, a former employee who had gone on to become the C.E.O. of Yves Saint Laurent, to return to the company. Ahrendts and Deneve were surely influential in guiding the development of the deluxe watch, but so were more long-established Apple executives; in Ian Parker’s recent Profile of Jonathan Ive, the senior vice-president of design at Apple, a friend of Ive’s told Parker that Ive had “always wanted to do luxury.”

It’s relatively rare for a single watchmaker to simultaneously sell a three-hundred-and-forty-nine-dollar watch and a similar ten-thousand-dollar version; for the Apple Watch to be successful, the company will have to market to a mass audience and a luxury one at the same time. Some tech bloggers, accustomed to seeing high-end products priced at most in the hundreds of dollars, immediately balked at the ten-thousand-dollar price tag on the Apple Watch Edition, especially given that the guts of the watch—what’s inside the gold casing—are the same as what’s in the other, less expensive versions. But people from the luxury-fashion world were not particularly surprised; by their standards, the price was somewhat modest. Milton Pedraza, the C.E.O. of the Luxury Institute, a consulting firm, told me, “At ten thousand dollars, I would call that more of a premium watch”—that is, something less than a luxury watch, a term reserved for the highest-end watches that sell for six figures. The luxury-goods business model relies on selling exorbitantly priced items to small numbers of people, which means not having to persuade the masses (tech bloggers included) that the price tag is reasonable. Profit margins for luxury watches tend to be around thirty per cent, compared with ten per cent or less for mass-market watches.

To Pedraza, the ten-thousand-dollar price tag seemed eminently justifiable. For one thing, the gold casing adds significant cost—in the high hundreds of dollars, at least—to the Edition watches. Perhaps more important, though, is that no one expects luxury products to be priced based on the value of their components; what’s being sold is cachet. “With the first caveman or cavewoman, the one who found the shiniest shell to make a necklace had an advantage, and ever since then people have been trying to one-up themselves,” Pedraza said.

Selling cachet, of course, requires special tactics. Pedraza noted that Apple’s marketing has tended to focus on the possibilities of achievement that are contained within a computer or a smartphone. The finest luxury brands, he said, draw their prospective customers’ attention, instead, to what a product suggests about the owner’s acquired achievement. In other words, he said, Apple might do well, with the Edition watches, to focus less on what the watch allows its wearer to do than on what it conveys to others about what the wearer has already done. “It’s about how people look at me and see me and how I want to be seen in the world,” Pedraza said. To an extent, Apple seems to appreciate that message; at Monday’s event, Christy Turlington, the supermodel, appeared onstage to show off her watch.

Apple will face another challenge with its Edition line. The luxury watchmaker Patek Philippe advertises its watches with the tagline “You never really own a Patek Philippe. You merely look after it for the next generation.” The point, of course, is that Patek Philippe watches—many of which are priced at twenty thousand dollars or more—are investments. Like art, they don’t lose value as time passes; they may even gain value. It’s hard to make the same case with an Apple Watch; at best, new technologies last for three years or so before they are seen as obsolete. “If you spent ten thousand dollars on an Omega gold watch, theoretically, in two years time, it should hold most of its value,” Bassel Choughari, a luxury-goods analyst at Berenberg, told me. “What are you going to be left with in three or four years time with your fifteen-thousand-dollar Apple Watch?”

Apple executives are surely aware of this issue; it could be one of the reasons the Apple Watch is built with removable straps, which can, at least theoretically, be removed from an obsolete watch and attached to the next version when it comes out. There is also some precedent for attempting to sell luxury tech products. A British firm called Vertu makes high-end smartphones that sell for tens of thousands of dollars. “A phone is more, in a way, like a car,” Vertu’s creative director, Ignacio Germade, told Sam Byford, of the Verge. “You don’t buy a luxury car because you want to buy it for the next 10 years or 20 years or 100 years; you buy a luxury car because even if you use it for two hours every three days, you want to have the best experience that you can have. If you look at the difference between when you buy a car and when you sell a car, you will realize that it’s actually a huge investment for a product that you use a few times a week.” Notably, in his Profile of Ive, Ian Parker quoted Ive’s friend as saying that Ive was “very interested” in Vertu.


January 23, 2015

Study says luxury brands fundamentally misunderstand their audience

Retail Customer Experience
December 29, 2014
By: Retail Customer Experience

Luxury brands lose 50 percent of their top customers annually because they routinely misidentify their demographic and economic profile while also failing to create a personalized sales experience for them, according to new research from Epsilon and The Luxury Institute.

The survey analyzed and compared 30,000 luxury shoppers to uncover insights, myths and stereotypes of the luxury shopper, according to the companies.

Luxury brands mistakenly believe their customers are typically female and on average 45-years old with a net worth over $1 million, the study found. However, 57.5 percent of luxury spenders are in fact, male. They are likely to be of Asian and Middle-Eastern descent with a net worth over $500,000. Additionally, nearly 13.8 percent of shoppers with a net worth over $1 million invest mostly in modern, contemporary décor and gifts as opposed to high-ticket apparel items.

“Luxury brands need to truly understand who their customers are and what they are looking for in a luxe shopping experience,” said Jean-Yves Sabot, vice president, retail business development at Epsilon. “This is critical in creating a personalized experience for the customer that drives engagement, retention and satisfaction.”

The study also found that online shopping accounts for less than a quarter of sales for multichannel luxury retail brands, because these consumers typically want to see and touch the product. While 98 percent of luxury shoppers use the Internet regularly, more than 50 percent of the time they are researching products and comparing prices on their mobile devices. Luxury shoppers crave the experience of the brand and look for a VIP interaction, according to the report.

Luxury brands must understand consumer spending levels

Luxury Daily
December 31, 2014
By: Nancy Buckley

When it comes to luxury products, 73 percent of luxury consumers consider quality to be the most important attribute, according to a study by the Luxury Institute and Epsilon.

The report focuses on defining the different tiers of luxury consumers, focusing on those who are true luxe customers and those who are aspiring to that level. By understanding their consumers, luxury brands will be able to adjust their marketing tactics based on the individual’s level of consumption.

“The only way you can have a good understanding of a human being is to have honest dialogue with them,” said Milton Pedraza, CEO of Luxury Institute, New York.

“You have to treat people as an individual and you have to have an honest and open dialogue with them,” he said.

Deeper understanding
Interacting with consumers in a relevant and personal manner is key for brands looking to make a connection, especially since 50 percent of luxury brands lose their top clients every year. Also, since 47 percent of consumers say it is the customer service that defines a luxury brand, understanding and catering to the top customers is vital.

The study breaks down the luxury consumers into four categories: aspirational shopper, moments of wealth, dressed for the part and true luxe.

An aspirational shopper is that individual who wants to own luxury items, but cannot afford to on a regular basis. They typically shop at outlet stores or on discount Web sites and purchase low-ticket designer brand items.

Those categorized in the moments of wealth section of luxury shoppers may save for a specific piece from a specific luxury brand, but they are not a regular consumer of the brand.

Understanding luxe consumer

Dressed for the part shoppers purchase luxury items to present themselves as someone living a luxurious lifestyle, but do not have the finances to be true luxe shoppers.

True luxe shoppers do not have any financial concerns when purchasing and buy from luxury brands on a frequent basis.

Understanding where individuals lay in the scheme of luxury shopping and where they may jump to is important for brands. With a degree or a job change, consumers can move up a level of luxury shopping.

True luxe shoppers are statistically male and between the ages of 25 and 44. Fifty-two percent of them are single and 42 percent are college graduates. They are worth more than $500,000 and have annual incomes between $125,000 and $250,000.

Online shopping is less than 25 percent of sales for luxury brands, since consumers are still shopping in-person, leaving an opportunity for brands to offer more traditional white glove experiences.

However, this does not mean that luxe consumers are not actively online. Ninety-eight percent regularly use the Internet and more than 50 percent research products before purchasing. Also, 75 percent compare prices on their mobile devices.

Seventy percent of these consumers are on social media, but less than 25 percent engage with brands on Facebook. The digital nature of these consumers allows brands to have an online presence and attract consumers online, but offer customer service in-person.

The report suggests that brands organize and analyze housefile information to best understand their consumer’s habits and purchasing history.

Big data for personal results
Luxury brands are delving into more bespoke options and marketing, according to Wealth-X’s president at Luxury Retail Summit: Holiday Focus 2014.

Mr. Friedman spoke about the necessity among brands to understand their consumer, who they are, what they do and who their friends and family are in order to gain a full understanding of these individuals in order to effectively market. Luxury brands can learn from Wealth-X’s research on the ultra-high-net-worth individuals to create specific marketing strategy for the ultra-affluent (see story).

Some brands are adopting data trackers to attempt to understand in-store sales and trends.

For instance, Italian lingerie maker La Perla has teamed with a software platform to create a platform that will be implemented for all La Perla boutiques and fashion stores where its products are sold.

La Perla worked with MicroStrategy Mobile to analyze sales and other company data points through key performance indicators. This new technology will allow La Perla to be aware of information in all its stores and make necessary alterations to tactics without too much delay (see story).

Taking these opportunities to learn about and understand clients is vital for brands looking to engage and maintain a relationship with individuals.

“I think from the targeted marketing perspective if they understand who their clients are deeply they can really target those individuals and make it personal,” Mr. Pedraza said.

“People will be excited about the human approach,” he said. “It gives you a wonderful opportunity to connect with [them] in a truly unique and personal way.”



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