Luxury Institute News

October 31, 2014

Men are buying up these $1,200 sneakers

By: Kathryn Vasel
CNN Money
October 30, 2014

Click the link to read the entire article, which includes quotes from Milton Pedraza, CEO of Luxury Institute: http://www.channel3000.com/money/men-are-buying-up-these-1200-sneakers/29428624

October 30, 2014

October 21, 2014

Luxury Institute Introduces Luxcelerate, an Empirically Proven Method to Drive High Performance in Building Client Relationships

Marketwired
October 21, 2014 80763_LuxcelerateLogo

NEW YORK, NY–(Marketwired – Oct 21, 2014) – Today, the New York-based Luxury Institute announced the launch of Luxcelerate, an enhanced version of its innovative successful 7-Step Customer Culture process. Luxcelerate is designed to accelerate sales performance via a proprietary methodology that focuses on empowering the customer-facing online and offline associates, helping brands to improve both client relationships and sales exponentially.

Presently, top brands are struggling to both expand and retain their client base. Top brands have a conversion rate of 10-15%, a data collection rate of 30-40% (approximately 25% of this data is unusable) and a first time buyer retention rate of 10%.

Luxcelerate encourages the individual sales associate to learn and execute the best practices in client relationship building. The process is designed to improve sales performance via an exclusive methodology that focuses on relationship building, while improving a brand’s conversion, data collection and retention rates.

Luxcelerate’s proprietary methodology is based on shared relationship values and standards that are designed by a brand’s front-line teams, and is therefore customized to fit the unique DNA and culture of each brand. Custom education programs use empirically proven learning principles to drive retention of critical knowledge. Measurement and reinforcement methodologies are then deployed individually to guarantee consistent daily execution. The outcome is humanistic, effective client relationship building that leads to sharp increases in sales.

Luxury Institute’s CEO Milton Pedraza developed Luxcelerate’s 7-step methodology. Mr. Pedraza established this innovative methodology after being inspired by best practices from education, medicine and aviation. Using this process, a number of top-tier luxury brands have doubled, or tripled, the accurate collection of critical client data, and have significantly increased client conversion and retention rates. Luxury Institute has worked with the top brands of major luxury groups, well-known brands owned by private equity firms, and small boutique brands, to drive sales at rates of 15-30% per annum.

“The Luxury Institute was invaluable in helping Malia Mills define and implement our clienteling process. The first quarter that we implemented our program we increased sales by a significant amount.” — Carol Mills, Co-Founder, Malia Mills

“Since embarking on this project, we have seen double digit increases in data collection, conversion and a significant acceleration in retail momentum.” — Claudia Poccia, President and CEO of Gurwitch, Owner of the Laura Mercier brand

References are available upon request. For more information please email luxinfo@luxuryinstitute.com or fill out a contact form at www.luxuryinstitute.com

Source: http://www.marketwired.com/press-release/luxury-institute-introduces-luxcelerate-empirically-proven-method-drive-high-performance-1959706.htm

October 18, 2014

The Neiman Marcus catalogue

Hold the myrrh
Gold and frankincense are so two millennia ago

The Economist
October 18, 2014

NOT everyone finds Christmas easy. Some people have so much money that they cannot think what to spend it on. Every year Neiman Marcus, a posh department store, takes pity on these unfortunate souls by offering them its Christmas catalogue, stuffed with ideas to empty even the fattest wallet.

20141018_USP003_0

For example, sporty couples can buy “His and Hers” Quadskis for $50,000 each. These are jet skis that convert into quad bikes in about five seconds (pictured). And they come in a turtle print. Shoppers who wish to relax can buy an elaborate cocktail shaker for $35,000. It comes with a year’s supply of gin and a class for 20 guests with a “mixology” expert.

Many luxury brands are now ubiquitous, which robs them of their snob value. What the truly rich want is “unique experiences”, says Milton Pedraza of the Luxury Institute, a consultancy. Neiman Marcus offers plenty of those. For $125,000 you can ride a Mardi Gras float in New Orleans. For $425,000 you can attend the Vanity Fair Oscar party, having first been glammed up by a style expert so that the other revellers won’t think you are a gatecrasher.

The costliest item in this year’s book is the “House of Creed Bespoke Fragrance Journey”. For $475,000 you can fly to Paris and have a master perfumier create a scent that perfectly suits you. You also get “white-glove car service, private tours and other experiences befitting the royally amazing you”. Your correspondent tried to expense such a trip, for research purposes, but her Scrooge-like editor said no.

Ginger Reeder, who handpicks all the “fantasy items” for the catalogue, does not expect to sell everything. Selling is not the point. “They are chosen for their uniqueness and their publicity value,” she says. In 1997, for instance, Neiman Marcus was unable to offload first editions of 90 of America’s greatest novels, from “The Great Gatsby” to “Catch-22”, but Ms Reeder found some comfort when she received 600 requests for the book-list.

The shop’s most expensive gift ever was a Boeing jet for $35m in 1999. The most memorable have included a submarine ($20m), a mean-spirited camel who spat a lot (Neiman Marcus no longer includes animals in the catalogue) and “His and Hers” mummy cases for $6,000 in 1971 ($35,000 in modern money). A mummy was unexpectedly discovered in one sarcophagus, which caused a spot of bother. A death certificate had to be issued before it could be delivered. Gift wrapping was optional.

Source: http://www.economist.com/news/united-states/21625817-gold-and-frankincense-are-so-two-millennia-ago-hold-myrrh

October 14, 2014

WEALTHY AMERICANS RANK PREMIUM WINES, DIVULGE SPENDING AND DRINKING HABITS IN NEW LUXURY INSTITUTE SURVEY

Market Wired

NEW YORK, NY — (Marketwired) — 10/14/14 — More than two-thirds (70%) of wealthy U.S. consumers, under the age of 50, drink wine at least once a month, and they’re willing to pay premium prices for preferred vintages — an average of $48 per bottle at retail and $64 at a restaurant. These are among findings of the New York-based Luxury Institute’s just released Luxury Brand Status Index (LBSI) premium wines survey.

Consumers 21 and older from households with income of at least $150,000 a year evaluated 20 premium domestic wine brands on the degree to which each embodies the four “pillars” of brand value: superior quality, exclusivity, enhanced social status and an overall superior consumption experience. Respondents also reveal which wines are worth paying premium prices, which they would recommend to people close to them, and which brand they will buy next.

Based on overall 1-10 LBSI scores, Ghost Pines (7.65) earns top honors, and it ranks the highest on all four pillars of value. Known for California winemaker Michael Eddy’s multi-appellation blends of grapes from Napa, Sonoma, Monterey and San Joaquin counties, Ghost Pines is also the brand consumers deem most worthy of a price premium, even though many of its bottles sell for less than $20.

Other highly ranked premium domestic brands include Mount Veeder (7.39), Meiomi (7.30), Bridlewood (7.16) and Edna Valley (6.90).

“Winemaking is the quintessential luxury business in many ways,” says Luxury Institute CEO Milton Pedraza. “Brand value begins with the best-quality raw materials and grows with fine craftsmanship and a relentless focus on execution and consistently delighting customers.”

Contact the Luxury Institute for more details and complete survey data.

Visit us at www.LuxuryInstitute.com and contact us with any questions or for more information.

The Luxury Institute, LLC
luxinfo@luxuryinstitute.com

Source:

http://www.einnews.com/pr_news/229093149/wealthy-americans-rank-premium-wines-divulge-spending-and-drinking-habits-in-new-luxury-institute-survey

October 6, 2014

La Jolla among tops in US for luxury home sales

San Diego Source
Daily Transcript Staff Report
October 6, 2014

San Diego is among the top 10 cities with the highest number of luxury home sales, according to a report by Coldwell Banker, with La Jolla high on the list.

San Diego saw the sale of 927 homes valued at $1 million-plus from July 1, 2013, to June 30, 2014. The Luxury Market Report was prepared by the Coldwell Banker Previews International marketing program.

Topping the list was San Francisco with 2,485 luxury homes sold — up nearly 57 percent from the previous year — followed by Los Angeles with 2,170 and New York with 2,145.

The report included three price points: $1 million, $5 million and $10 million.

Two of San Diego’s ZIP codes saw high sales of luxury homes.

La Jolla’s 92037 ZIP code had closings on 348 homes valued at $1 million or more, the third highest of all ZIP codes in the country at that price tier; 269 homes sold in Carmel Valley and Torrey Pines in the 92130 ZIP code.

Four homes valued over $10 million closed in La Jolla, which ranked 16th, the report said. The most $10 million homes, 58, sold in New York.

The U.S. high-end residential real estate market remains strong, with 48 percent of all wealthy consumers indicating they plan to buy a luxury home within the next 12 months, according to the companion survey of wealthy U.S. consumers with a net worth of at least $5 million, conducted by the Coldwell Banker Previews International program and the Luxury Institute.

Younger buyers are the most motivated to buy; an overwhelming 81 percent of affluent people younger than 35 plan to buy a luxury home in the next year.

Source: http://www.sddt.com/News/article.cfm?SourceCode=20141006cze&_t=La+Jolla+among+tops+in+US+for+luxury+home+sales#.VDQEJSldXDQ

October 3, 2014

Luxury market report reveaks newcomers on list of hottest U.S. citie

New Jersey Hills Media Group
October 3, 2014

Quiet, unassuming areas adjacent to traditional luxury markets have rapidly transformed into hotbeds of luxury real estate in the 12-month period from July 1, 2013 through June 30, 2014. Leading the way and making its debut in the top 5 U.S. luxury markets for homes valued at $1 million+ is San Jose, where high-end home sales are up a staggering 76 percent from this time last year, according to the Luxury Market Report prepared by the Coldwell Banker Previews International® marketing program.

With Silicon Valley luxury real estate on fire, the affluent enclave of Atherton doubled its sales in the $10 million+ range from 2013. Burlingame, located approximately a mile from tony Hillsborough in Northern California emerged in the $10 million+ list for sold homes for the first time, most likely as the result of low inventory in the Bay Area’s most sought-after ZIP codes.

Adjacency is a powerful trend playing out in high-demand luxury cities well beyond Silicon Valley and the Bay Area, notably in Miami. North Miami Beach made its debut among the top 20 cities for $10 million+ homes sold —signaling that luxury buyers are expanding their horizons beyond the typical hotspots of Miami Beach, South Beach and the private communities of Star and Fisher Islands.

Overall, San Francisco led the nation with the highest number of sales in the $1 million+ category—up nearly 57 percent from this time last year.

The U.S. high-end residential real estate market remains strong, with nearly half (48 percent) of all wealthy consumers indicating that they plan to purchase a luxury home within the next 12 months, according to the companion survey of wealthy U.S. consumers with a net worth of at least $5 million (penta-millionaires) conducted by the Coldwell Banker Previews International® program and the Luxury Institute. Younger buyers are by far the most highly motivated to purchase: An overwhelming 81 percent of affluent individuals under 35 plan to buy a luxury home in the next year.

The survey reveals dramatic generational differences:

Penta-millionaires 35 and under reported the highest average purchase price of all age groups – $7.8 million — and have the largest percentage (80 percent) of all age groups paying all-cash.

By stark contrast, wealthy buyers 45-64 paid an average of $2.7 million for their most recent home purchase while buyers 65 and older spent just $1 million.

The report brought to light strong gender gaps:

Seventy percent of women reported paying all-cash for their most recent property vs. 57 percent of men.

Women reported buying more expensive homes than men:

Twenty-two percent of women spent $10 million or more for their most recent property vs. 13 percent of men in the same wealth bracket.

Forty-six percent of women have plans to buy another home in the coming year, up from 31 percent in 2013.

Location, location, location may no longer be the golden rule of real estate:

With the ability to work remotely now a reality for many, only 25 percent of the under-35 age group indicate that location dominates their search criteria.

Instead, 75 percent say that lifestyle considerations are the No. 1 factor driving their choice of which home to buy.

As evidence of this powerful generational shift, 86 percent of buyers 65 and older say that location remains their top priority.

Hottest In-Demand Amenities:

Nearly one-third of all wealthy buyers under the age of 45 count a “green” or “LEED certified” home as more important than it was 3 years ago.

The trend is also catching on among wealthy buyers of all ages, with 21% saying that they want to buy an eco-friendly home, up from a mere 7 percent in 2013.

As homes become increasingly high-tech, 25 percent now consider a fully automated home a priority.

Thirty-seven percent of respondents under age 35 and 30% of those with a net worth exceeding $10 million will prioritize safe rooms in their next homes.

The full list of the Top 20 Best Performing U.S. Cities in Luxury Real Estate by price points of $1 million+, $5 million+ and $10 million+, and the high-net-worth consumer survey results can be viewed here www.previewslmr.com.

Source: http://newjerseyhills.com/luxury-market-report-reveaks-newcomers-on-list-of-hottest-u/article_44f41eb2-e012-5472-a2fc-1047ab4a0690.html

October 1, 2014

Exclusive: Wealthy Consumer Survey 2014

Previews Inside Out
Coldwell Banker
October 1, 2014

You may picture wealthy Gen Y and Millenials as iPad-toting jetsetters who aren’t anxious to tie up their cash in a home. But they are among the most active players in luxury real estate, according to a new survey of ultra-wealthy consumers by Coldwell Banker Previews International® and the Luxury Institute.

“Young affluents recognize the value of real estate,” said Ginette Wright, vice president of marketing for Previews®/ NRT.  “And they are often bullish when it comes to real estate—they own more properties and tend to spend more on average. Their outlook on long-term appreciation is also more positive.”

inforGraphic_final_BLOG

The survey found that 73% of wealthy consumers under the age of 35—the most out of any age group—are considering a purchase of additional residential real estate in the next 12 months for personal use. These buyers also expect their home to appreciate by an average of 16% in the next five years, compared to 13% for buyers ages 45-64 and 11% for buyers 65 and older. Additionally, they are among the biggest spenders, as they paid $7.8 million on average for their last home, compared to $6.8 million for buyers between 35 and 44 years of age, $2.7 million for those between 45 and 64, and $1 million for buyers 65 and older. One reason for the price difference could be due to the kinds of homes they desire. Nearly three-fourths (72%) of respondents younger than 35 said that buying a move-in-ready home is important.

“Our agents in cities like Los Angeles and Miami tell us the same thing: new construction is king right now,” added Wright. “Younger luxury buyers are not looking for a project—they want everything turn-key, right down to the décor and furnishings. All of which, of course, adds to the home’s overall price tag.”

While location and price remain the most important elements in the decision making process for the majority of ultra-wealthy buyers, younger affluents are less inclined to choose a property based on geography. Thanks to convenient travel options and the ability to work from anywhere becoming more widespread, just 25% of the under-35 group reports that location dominates their search criteria, but 75% say that lifestyle considerations drive their choice of which home to buy. At the other extreme, 88% of buyers 65 and older say that location is the most potent driver of their next property search.

Younger affluents are also interested in different home amenities than their seasoned counterparts. Safe rooms (37%), home theaters (36%), pool (34%), outdoor kitchens (33%) and “green” or “eco-friendly” amenities (29%) remain at the top of the wish list for buyers under the age of 35. Compared to the 65+ demographic, those same features ranked far lower: 7% wanted safe rooms, 12% wanted home theaters, 16% wanted a pool, 17% wanted a pool and 10% wanted a “green” home.

To find more interesting comparisons between the age groups, download the complete Wealthy Consumer Survey: http://www.previewsinsideout.com/2014/10/exclusive-wealthy-consumer-survey-2014/

Coldwell Banker Previews International Luxury Market Report Reveals Newcomers On List Of Hottest U.S. Cities For Luxury Home Sales

PR Newswire
October 1, 2014
High Net-Worth Consumer Survey Reveals Dramatic Gender Gaps
MADISON, N.J.Oct. 1, 2014 /PRNewswire/ – Quiet, unassuming areas adjacent to traditional luxury markets have rapidly transformed into hotbeds of luxury real estate in the 12-month period from July 1, 2013 through June 30, 2014.  Leading the way and making its debut in the top 5 U.S. luxury markets for homes valued at $1 million+ is San Jose, where high-end home sales are up a staggering 76% from this time last year, according to the Luxury Market Report prepared by the Coldwell Banker Previews International® marketing program. With Silicon Valley luxury real estate on fire, the affluent enclave of Atherton doubled its sales in the $10 million+ range from 2013. Burlingame, located approximately a mile from Hillsborough in Northern California emerged in the $10 million+ list for sold homes for the first time, most likely as the result of low inventory in the Bay Area’s most sought-after ZIP codes. Adjacency is a powerful trend playing out in high-demand luxury cities well beyond Silicon Valley and the Bay Area, notably in Miami.North Miami Beach made its debut among the top 20 cities for $10 million+ homes sold —signaling that luxury buyers are expanding their horizons beyond the typical hotspots of Miami Beach, South Beach and the private communities of Star and Fisher Islands. Overall, San Francisco led the nation with the highest number of sales in the $1 million+ category—up nearly 57% from this time last year. During the last 12 months through June 2014, the top five U.S. cities with the highest number of luxury home sales valued at $1 million+ are:

Coldwell Banker Previews International Luxury Market Report

Ranking

City

State

Number of Home Sales Valued at $1 million+

1

San Francisco

Calif.

2,485

2

Los Angeles

Calif.

2,170

3

New York

N.Y.

2,145

4

San Jose

Calif.

1,119

5

Houston

Texas

981

6

Chicago

Ill.

972

7

Naples

Fla.

964

8

Miami

Fla.

933

9

San Diego

Calif.

927

10

Washington

DC

878

The number of sales for four out of five of these top cities is up by at least 36%. Extending the range up to the $10 million+ category, Miami Beach and Aspen have another strong showing against long standing luxury real estate epicenters New York and Beverly Hills.

Coldwell Banker Previews International Luxury Market Report

Ranking

City

State

Number of Home Sales Valued at $10 million+

1

New York

N.Y.

58

2

Beverly Hills

Calif.

28

3

Los Angeles

Calif.

25

4

Miami Beach

Fla.

17

5

Aspen

Colo.

16

6 (tie)

Greenwich

Conn.

14

6 (tie)

Atherton

Calif.

14

7

Santa Barbara

Calif.

10

8

Malibu

Calif.

8

9

Palm Beach

Fla.

7

10 (tie)

Laguna Beach

Calif.

6

10 (tie)

Kailua Kona

Hawaii

6

10 (tie)

Naples

Fla.

6

10 (tie)

San Francisco

Calif.

6

HIGH-NET-WORTH CONSUMER SURVEY The U.S. high-end residential real estate market remains strong, with nearly half (48%) of all wealthy consumers indicating that they plan to purchase a luxury home within the next 12 months, according to the companion survey of wealthy U.S. consumers with a net worth of at least $5 million (penta-millionaires) conducted by the Coldwell Banker Previews International® program and the Luxury Institute.  Younger buyers are by far the most highly motivated to purchase:  An overwhelming 81% of affluent individuals under 35 plan to buy a luxury home in the next year. The survey reveals dramatic generational differences:

  • Penta-millionaires 35 and under reported the highest average purchase price of all age groups - $7.8 million – and have the largest percentage (80%) of all age groups paying all-cash.
  • By stark contrast, wealthy buyers 45-64 paid an average of $2.7 million for their most recent home purchase while buyers 65 and older spent just $1 million.

The report brought to light strong gender gaps:

  • 70% of women reported paying all-cash for their most recent property vs. 57% of men.
  • Women reported buying more expensive homes than men:
    • 22% of women spent $10 million or more for their most recent property vs. 13% of men in the same wealth bracket.
  • 46% of women have plans to buy another home in the coming year, up from 31% in 2013.

Location, location, location may no longer be the golden rule of real estate:

  • With the ability to work remotely now a reality for many, only 25% of the under-35 age group indicate that location dominates their search criteria.
  • Instead, 75% say that lifestyle considerations are the No. 1 factor driving their choice of which home to buy.
  • As evidence of this powerful generational shift, 86% of buyers 65 and older say that location remains their top priority.  

Hottest In-Demand Amenities:

  • Nearly one-third of all wealthy buyers under the age of 45 count a “green” or “LEED certified” home as more important than it was 3 years ago.
  • The trend is also catching on among wealthy buyers of all ages, with 21% saying that they want to buy an eco-friendly home, up from a mere 7% in 2013.
  • As homes become increasingly high-tech, 25% now consider a fully automated home a priority.
  • 37% of respondents under age 35 and 30% of those with a net worth exceeding $10 million will prioritize safe rooms in their next homes.

The full list of the Top 20 Best Performing U.S. Cities in Luxury Real Estate by price points of $1 million+, $5 million+ and $10 million+, and the high-net-worth consumer survey results can be viewed here www.previewslmr.com. About Coldwell Banker Previews International® The Coldwell Banker Previews International program has been a world leader in the marketing of luxury homes since 1933. The Previews® program was acquired by Coldwell Banker Real Estate LLC in 1980 and re-launched as Coldwell Banker Previews International, the brand’s luxury homes program.  The exclusive group of certified Previews Property Specialists make up approximately 8.5 percent of the Coldwell Banker sales associates worldwide.  Coldwell Banker Previews International participated in more than 20,000 transaction sides of homes priced at $1 million or more in 2013. On average, Previews handles $102.7 million in luxury homes sales every day. Coldwell Banker, Previews and Coldwell Banker Previews International are registered marks licensed to Coldwell Banker Real Estate LLC. Each office is independently owned and operated. Sales associates affiliated with Coldwell Banker offices are independent contractors. About Coldwell Banker® Since 1906, the Coldwell Banker® organization has been a premier provider of full-service residential and commercial real estate. Coldwell Banker is the oldest national real estate brand in the United States and today has a network of approximately 84,200 independent sales associates affiliated with more than 3,100 offices in 48 countries and territories. The Coldwell Banker brand is known for creating innovative consumer services as recently seen by being the first national real estate brand with an iPad app, the first to augment its website www.coldwellbanker.com for smart phones, the first to create a iPhone application with international listings and the first to fully harness the power of video in real estate listings, news and information through its Coldwell Banker On LocationSMYouTube channel.  The Coldwell Banker System is a leader in niche markets such as resort, new homes and luxury properties through its Coldwell Banker Previews International® marketing program.  Coldwell Banker Real Estate LLC fully supports the principles of the Fair Housing Act and the Equal Opportunity Act.  Each office is independently owned and operated. Coldwell Banker is a subsidiary of Realogy Holdings Corp. (NYSE: RLGY), a global leader in real estate franchising and provider of real estate brokerage, relocation and settlement services. Methodology Manhattan area active listing data has been gathered from the Real Estate Board of New York (REBNY). Not all Manhattan area real estate brokerage firms make Information about their property listings available to any cooperative resource, including REBNY.  Manhattan area sales data has been gathered from REBNY and from StreetEasy.com, an online consumer and private industry portal that reports closed real estate transactions from REBNY as well as other reporting brokerage resources. Not all Manhattan area real estate brokerage firms report their closed sales to any cooperative resource, including StreetEasy.com and / or REBNY. All other data has been gathered from the Multiple Listing Service (MLS) databases known or believed to be the primary real estate broker cooperative resources for each market referenced in the report. All closed sales activity reported is for the annual period July 1, 2013 through June 30, 2014. Closed sales reported to the MLS significantly later than this analysis period will not be included. All active status listing records were downloaded and processed to the same standards, and on various dates, during the months of July and August, 2014. Property specific listing and sales records were standardized to USPS address city and ZIP Code, inaccurate list and sale prices were corrected when necessary, and all duplicate records were manually excluded. As a result, statistics available via the source data providers may not correlate to this analysis. While all results are believed to be highly accurate, MLS systems do not report all real estate activity in their primary marketplace, and there may have been property transfers not included in this analysis. Copyright © 2014, Real Data Strategies, Inc. All rights reserved. Licensed for the exclusive use of Coldwell Banker Real Estate LLC. The Luxury Institute, in partnership with the Coldwell Banker Previews International® program, conducted research on the topic of real estate during Quarter 2, 2014. This in-depth survey includes responses from 506 ultra-wealthy male and female consumers in the United States. Respondents were recruited and screened to only include those age 21 or older with a minimum gross annual household income of $200,000 and a minimum net worth of $5 million.

SOURCE Coldwell Banker Real Estate LLC

Media Inquiries:

Athena Snow

Coldwell Banker Real Estate LLC

973.407.5590

Athena.Snow@coldwellbanker.com

Holly Taylor

Rogers and Cowan for Coldwell Banker Real Estate LLC

310.854.8115

hetaylor@rogersandcowan.com

SOURCE Coldwell Banker Real Estate LLC RELATED LINKS http://www.coldwellbanker.com http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/coldwell-banker-previews-international-luxury-market-report-reveals-newcomers-on-list-of-hottest-us-cities-for-luxury-home-sales-277723761.html

September 25, 2014

Social network aims for country club status

StarTribune
September 25, 2014
By Katie Humphrey

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

http://www.startribune.com/lifestyle/blogs/277098901.html

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