Luxury Institute News

July 18, 2016

Why luxury retailers are losing their luster

USA Today
Hadley Malcolm and Chris Woodyard
July 18, 2016

NEW YORK — Bling appears to not be as much of a thing.

Luxury retailers, which were flying high as the wealthy thrived, are starting to look more like diamonds in a pretty rough spot.

Threats to global stability — including terrorism, the United Kingdom’s withdrawal from the European Union and China’s slowdown — are rattling international shoppers of high-end goods. At the same time, luxury retailers are losing share to online sellers, an issue bedeviling mainstream chains. They’re also suffering at the hands of discounters and fast-fashion luxury lookalikes.

Investors are taking note. The S&P Global Luxury Index, which tracks the value of the stock of dozens of companies that deal in luxury goods including automakers, has lost 15.06% in the past year, compared to a 2.58% rise in the S&P 500, an index of the 500 largest publicly traded companies.

“If you’re tied to international consumers, you really have not had any sense of relief in the past several quarters,” says Simeon Siegel, equity research analyst with Nomura Securities.

As second-quarter earnings reports unfold, purveyors of luxury goods who noted some stress, such as jeweler Tiffany and apparel sellers Ralph Lauren and Burberry, will be watched to see if the trouble they reported in the first quarter is continuing or worsening.

Brexit creates a whole new level of uncertainty for some of the world’s wealthier spenders. It’s another shock that, combined with terror attacks in France, the U.S., Bangladesh and elsewhere, adds up to trouble for luxury firms because it scares off tourists — and tourists are some of the best customers for luxury companies.

“A few years ago, tourists would come buy empty luggage and fill it up and send it back home,” says Arnold Aronson, partner and managing director of retail strategies at consultancy Kurt Salmon. That’s not necessarily happening anymore

The drop in tourism is the biggest reason luxury retail traffic is down 20% from a year ago, says Milton Pedraza, CEO of The Luxury Institute, a consulting firm.

It’s a strange turn for luxury, which looked unstoppable when the world’s wealthy were riding high. Globally, the luxury market is growing. Personal luxury goods purchases have tripled in the past 20 years to more than $270 billion, according to a 2015 report from Bain & Co. North and South America combined have become the largest market for personal luxury goods purchases.

But that growth has slowed in recent years. Last year, sales in the Americas were flat on a constant exchange rate basis, according to Bain.

Besides global economic pressure, even the most tony retailers are feeling the same heat from discounters and online sellers as the mainstream retail industry.

A recession-era boom in outlet and off-price stores had everyone from Coach to Prada hawking their once-coveted goods at a discount, or department store offshoots such as Nordstrom Rack and Saks Off 5th doing it for them. Fast-fashion players such as H&M and Zara churn out luxury lookalikes at a fraction of the price.

When it comes to online, some shoppers are turning to luxury-for-less sites such as Gilt or The Real Real.

“The story with luxury is it’s just not as exclusive and it doesn’t justify the price like it used to,” Pedraza says. “Too many of them are discounting, and there’s not enough consumer demand.”

Source: http://www.usatoday.com/story/money/2016/07/18/luxury-retail-hurting-from-over-distribution-lack-of-tourist-spending/85872502/

May 5, 2016

Denver’s Inspirato booming as interest in luxury destination clubs grow

Inspirato, a Denver-based luxury destination club, plans to hire its 500th employee by year’s end.
The Denver Post
By: Emilie Rusch
May 5, 2016

Inspirato, a Denver-based destination club that caters to luxury travelers, is in the midst of a major growth spurt, set to reach 500 employees by year’s end and more than double its office footprint in Lower Downtown.

Launched in 2011 by Exclusive Resorts co-founder Brent Handler, Inspirato now counts more than 12,000 members taking advantage of its private network of multimillion-dollar vacation homes, travel experiences and special relationships with upscale hotels worldwide. Initiation fees for the club start at $7,500, with monthly dues of $325. Members then pay per night for accommodations they book.

“The reason we came up with the company is because we knew there was a really large market of people who were looking for a better way to vacation in a safe manner, for options in homes, hotels and experiences, all with an adviser to help them put it all together,” Handler said. “We’re continuing to grow very aggressively in terms of selling memberships, revenue and employees.”

That growth has meant adding jobs and square footage to its Denver headquarters.

Since the beginning of the year, Inspirato has increased its workforce by 66 employees, bringing the total to 428. Plans call for the company to reach 500 workers by the end of 2016.

To house that growth, Inspirato has signed a lease for three floors of the  historic Sugar Building, located at 16th and Wazee streets.

Once renovations are complete later this year, the addition will bring the company’s total footprint to about 68,000 square feet, making the travel company one of the largest office tenants in LoDo.

The company will continue to occupy all 36,000 square feet of the historic  Peters Paper Co. Warehouse building at 1637 Wazee St., less than a block away.

Handler said while it might have been more efficient to move the entire operation into a larger, more traditional office building, the company never seriously considered leaving LoDo.

“We knew early on that would mean a campus. Frankly, this building won’t be enough for our growth plans, either,” Handler said. “We plan on being a long-term part of the community in this small sector of LoDo.”

Since the beginning of the year, Inspirato has increased its workforce by 66 employees, bringing the total to 428.

Since the beginning of the year, Inspirato has increased its workforce by 66 employees, bringing the total to 428.

Beyond any emotional attachment to the area, though, Inspirato is also betting on the recruiting advantage that being in LoDo provides, he said. Most of the new positions will be in tech, sales and what the company calls “travel advisers,” employees who work directly with club members to plan vacations.

“We’re hiring just out of college — or a few years out of college — smart, motivated employees, and they do not want to work in the Tech Center,” Handler said. “They want to work at the center of the action.”

Nationwide, the “shared economy model” has been experiencing a resurgence in recent years in the luxury travel world, said Milton Pedraza, CEO of New York-based research firm Luxury Institute.

“The idea is popular because who wouldn’t want multiple home availability at the right time, with a great concierge and pay a fraction of the cost?” Pedraza said. 

“But it’s how you actually deliver that promise that really matters,” he said. “I’ve seen a lot of players go down. They think they’re in the business of selling memberships, but they’re really not.”

Inspirato’s model “really hits the sweet spot of where the consumer is going,” said Richard Ragatz, president of Ragatz Associates, an Oregon-based resort real estate industry consulting firm. “Inspirato is a very innovative, creative concept that’s doing very well.”

In 2015, the shared-ownership industry — which includes timeshare properties and destination clubs — booked $505 million in sales. Sixty-two percent of that came from destination clubs, such as Inspirato, according to a  report from Ragatz Associates.

Inspirato has distinguished itself from other timeshare and destination-club players with its lower cost of entry and no long-term commitment, he said. Younger travelers, in particular, like the variety, convenience and flexibility the clubs can offer.

“Millennials are much less enthusiastic about purchasing real estate with a deed in perpetuity, and they don’t want all the burdens that go along with ownership,” Ragatz said. “They don’t want to put all their discretionary income into one home.”

Unlike many of its competitors, Inspirato operates the vacation residences through long-term lease arrangements, instead of purchasing them. This allows the company to avoid the six-figure initiation fees that some other clubs charge.

“We essentially tried to take the best parts of renting a vacation home, which was becoming popular with  Airbnb and HomeAway and VRBO,” Handler said. “We came up with a concept where we could have a club structure — people pay a fee to join, but then they get these homes taken care of as if you were in a hotel. They’re fully serviced, there’s housekeeping, there’s a concierge.”

As far as their new offices in the Sugar Building, plans call for exposing as much of the original 1906 structure as possible, said Mark Sheldon, Inspirato’s vice president of asset operations.

Work on the three floors will be done in phases and be completed by the end of the year.

“The first thing I did was tear out the walls,” Sheldon said. “Now, when you walk up into the space, instead of seeing hallways, you see every window.”

In a separate project, the design details of which were approved by the Lower Downtown Design Review Board late last year, the property owner plans to build a four-story addition with a glass facade where now a narrow parking lot sits behind the building on Wazee.

Inspirato will take three of the floors, with the ground floor serving as the travel company’s main entrance. The addition, expected to be completed by the end of the second quarter of 2017, will increase Inspirato’s footprint by another 12,000 square feet.

“These commitments to the people and the places we occupy are all part and parcel to what we’re building here,” Sheldon said.

Source: http://www.denverpost.com/business/ci_29851815/denvers-inspirato-booming-interest-luxury-destination-clubs-grow

March 11, 2016

As Wall Street Bonuses Dip, New York Luxury Markets Are Feeling The Pain

International Business Times
By: Owen Davis
March 11, 2016

At Lane Jewelers in lower Manhattan, owner David Ostrow looked out the window. On the sidewalk, a man with a gray mustache peered intently at the necklaces in the display case. “This is his third time here this week,” Ostrow said. “He hasn’t bought anything.”

Business is down at the jeweler, a third-generation family-owned store just a block from Wall Street, whose clientele includes both C-suite executives and back-office bankers. The culprit: a lackluster season for big bank bonuses. “I can already tell you my numbers are down from last year,” Ostrow said.

When bonuses spike, Lane does brisk business on items like diamond earrings and tennis bracelets, purchases Ostrow called “pick-me-ups.” But the past few months have been a letdown. “Obviously there’s a trickle effect,” Ostrow said. “These guys’ whole year is their bonus check.”

Eight years after the financial crisis, Wall Street bonuses have yet to match the soaring peaks of 2006 and 2007, and recent gains in annual payouts have proved short-lived. The average New York investment banker’s bonus fell by 9 percent in 2015 to $146,200, the second down year in a row, according to New York Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli. And luxury markets are feeling it.

“The financial sector has been important for the New York economy since Peter Stuyvesant’s time 400 years ago,” said Lawrence J. White, professor of economics at New York University’s Stern School of Business. “There is no question there’s a ripple effect if bonuses aren’t going to be what they’ve been in the past.”

Of course, the smaller average bonus, which amounts to nearly three times the median American salary, is nothing to sneeze at. But in New York City, the world’s luxury capital, a wobble in bankers’ bonuses sends a shudder through markets for everything from Lamborghinis to $40 steaks.

Wages and salaries in the securities industry make up more than one-fifth of total New York City income, according to the comptroller’s office, although only 5 percent of New Yorkers work in finance. Overall, Wall Street bonuses add up to more than twice the incomes of all U.S. minimum-wage workers.

The total decline in 2015 year-end bonuses amounted to $1.7 billion, although not all of that sum will be felt immediately, since it includes deferred stock awards. But bonus season, which typically lasts from December to March, serves as a bellwether for luxury markets, according to Milton Pedraza, chief executive of the Luxury Institute, a high-end consulting goods and services consulting firm.

“Salaries are great, but bonuses are what really make the financial services industry,” Pedraza said. “It’s a performance-driven industry.”

Several factors combined to crimp bonuses in what DiNapoli called “a challenging year in the financial markets.” The seven-year bull market in stocks finally stumbled over the summer, catching some banks off balance. And the advance of new regulations has weighed heavily on some banking divisions, particularly bond trading, where revenue has fallen nearly 40 percent since 2010 at the 10 largest investment banks.

“The uncertainty that exists in the marketplace will make people store their nuts for the winter a great deal more this year than in previous years,” Pedraza said. The same global economic worries that battered the markets in the past nine months have also diminished high-end foreign demand, Pedraza said, estimating that luxury sales have dipped as much as 20 percent in the past year.

Robert Serrano is feeling the pinch. As manager of Manhattan Motorcars, Serrano sells the type of high-end cars financiers often splurge on: Bugatti, Porsche, Rolls-Royce. But in a disappointing Wall Street bonus season, few are moving. “We had an extremely slow January and February.” Serrano said. “If the market has any effect on high-end cars, then you’re definitely seeing it.”

Serrano, who said that around half his clients work in the financial industry, has had to accept multiple canceled orders already this year, a relatively rare occurrence. “The market has a direct effect,” Serrano said. “Our cars are wants, not needs.”

Wall Street weddings are also shrinking with the bonuses, according to Maya Kalman, CEO and creative director at Swank Productions, a luxury wedding planning and event design firm in the Chelsea section of Manhattan. Two clients who work in banking have recently approached Kalman to dial back on the number of wedding invites they can afford. For a Swank event, clients pay roughly $1,000 a head.

In a season that usually has clients looking forward to spring, sliding bonuses have put a slight chill on the planning business. “In March the weather gets better and people’s outlook gets brighter,” Kalman said. “But the first couple of months this year, bonus issues have definitely played a role in people being a little more skittish about their budgets.”

At Delmonico’s restaurant just off Wall Street, smaller bonus checks have meant fewer celebratory steaks for the bankers who work in the buildings towering overhead. “Naturally, when the bonuses are not what people expect them to be, we might see a slight decline,” said Carin Sarafian, the director of sales and marketing at Delmonico’s.

But business at the famed steakhouse, which opened in 1837, hasn’t suffered too greatly. The modest downturn in diners toasting big bonuses has been replaced by more morale-building team events, Sarafian said, as managers seek to assuage bankers whose payouts shrank in 2015.

And the restaurant has seen worse than this year’s disappointing bonus haul. “We’ve weathered all the ups and downs of markets, 9/11, Hurricane Sandy,” Sarafian said. “I don’t think the bonuses are going to really hurt Delmonico’s anytime soon.”

At Lane Jewelers, Ostrow expressed optimism that bonus season might end on a positive note. A smartly dressed man standing at the counter was hopeful, too. “I find out Friday,” he said, crossing his fingers.

Source: http://www.ibtimes.com/wall-street-bonuses-dip-new-york-luxury-markets-are-feeling-pain-2332717

December 18, 2015

Luxury travellers have dim view of Trump brand: survey

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

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

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

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

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

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

•delivering consistent superior quality;

•being unique and exclusive;

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

•making guests feel special.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Marketing for his hotel has not yet started.

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

Click here to read a profile of Phillip Posch

How to do a rebranding properly

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The two hotels therefore have different offerings for guests.

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

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

“Brand consistency is key.”

Rationale for recent Pinnacle’s rebranding

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

November 25, 2015

Nordstrom, Bergdorf Goodman lead retailers in overall satisfaction: report

Luxury Daily
November 25, 2015
By: Forrest Cardamenis

Department store chain Nordstrom is the top-rated luxury retailer, according to findings detailed in The Luxury Institute’s third annual Luxury Multi-Channel Engagement Index.

Consumers evaluated six luxury fashion retailers both in-store and online across a total of 31 attributes – 15 online and 16 in-store. Because the findings come from consumers, they can help each retailer determine which areas it needs to improve on and what specialties will help distinguish it from competitors.

“[We wanted] to get the voice of the client, not to have a panel of experts, not to have one individual,” said Milton Pedraza, CEO of The Luxury Institute. “This is the wealthy consumer rating their own experiences, these are all clients of the brands.”

Ahead of the pack
Barneys New York, Bergdorf Goodman, Bloomingdale’s, Neiman Marcus, Nordstrom and Saks Fifth Avenue were evaluated on the ease of 14 common criteria both online and in-store. In addition, there was one additional criterion for online shopping and two for in-store.

The common traits are: finding desired products, the perception consumers had of the retailer, product selection, customizability, customer service, policy on returns and exchanges, product displays, exclusive or limited products.

Traits also included whether selections were relevant to the consumer’s lifestyle, the availability of proper sizes, pricing, loyalty programs, confidence that the retailer would meet the consumer’s needs and how often products from that retailer receive compliments.

SAKS 5th Ave
Dior beauty counter at Saks Fifth Avenue

Respondents had a median age of 52, minimum household income of $150,000 and an average of $289,000 and $2.9 million in net worth, numbers that align with luxury retailers at large. Among the findings about consumers is that twice as much spending takes place in-store, with women and consumers under 45 years of age being more likely to spend online.

Bergdorf Goodman beat out Nordstrom in some notable categories. It is best perceived as a luxury retailer, as having the best prices and having the best personalized shopping experience.

However, Bergdorf Goodman has only two stores, one for men and the larger for women, both on Fifth Avenue in New York, whereas Nordstrom has 118, which will play into perceptions of luxury. Nevertheless, Bergdorf Goodman’s relative aversion to discounting did not stop consumers from highlighting its prices.
Nordstrom
Nordstrom

Nordstrom topped the rankings of more categories than any other retailer. Among them: its convenient refund/return policy, carrying relevant products and styles, having a navigable Web site, including helpful ratings and reviews and good shipping policies online, convenient locations and in carrying products that are complimented by others. It also beat out national retailers in prices and having good personalized shopping.

Fittingly, Nordstrom is the most popular retailer online and leads in market-share on both channels.

Tough times

Mobile transactions do not comprise a large share of the revenue for any of the retailers. While mobile is an important part of the transaction journey for many consumers, who use it to research and in-store to compare prices and selection, it has not yet become a major source of transactions.

Retailers are missing out on significant revenue opportunities by failing to personalize consumers’ shopping experiences, thanks to the lack of adaptive pages, product recommendations and search functionalities on their mobile sites, according to a Retail Systems Research report.

In its “Personalization Across Digital Channels” report, sponsored by predictive analytics platform Reflektion, Retail Systems Research highlights the major faux paus that brands commit when it comes to mobile commerce. As consumers’ expectations for retailers’ digital offerings grow higher, marketers must deliver optimized experiences, including saved search histories, suggestions on previous purchases and responsive pages tailored to each device (see story).

neiman.hudson yards rendering
Neiman Marcus Hudson Yards rendering

Nevertheless, online shares have grown and retailers have proven themselves adaptable to new technology.

“I think what [the data] tells you is that, even though we thought that the luxury multi brand chains were going to be overrun with the likes of Amazon and others, that just hasn’t happened,” Mr. Pedraza said. “They have become very nimble and very agile at online and ecommerce. Don’t underestimate these omnichannel chains. They definitely will rise to the occasion.”

One of the major obstacles in both ecommerce and in being perceived as luxury is in discounting. Discounting is a surefire way to lure in new consumers short-term but represents longer-term risks for the brand.

As a result, many retailers have opened up discount stores, which, despite also risking perception, could become a venue to funnel discounted merchandise and leave the main store full-price.

Although this change could not be implemented suddenly without alienating some consumers, there are already signs that it is taking place and may become more visible as holiday shopping is amped up.

Bloomingdale's Ala Moana exterior
Bloomingdale’s Ala Moana exterior

Consumers should expect a reduction in holiday promotions from retailers, according to a recent report by Upstream Commerce.

Based on the past two years of holiday promotions, the report predicts that 2015 will see a decrease in both the number of products discounted and in the discount rate. Fewer sales incentives and lower discounts could indicate a new strategy based on the “right” offering rather than simply presenting more promotions (see story).

“There is a lot of discounting out there, but full-price will remain relevant,” Mr. Pedraza said. “Unfortunately I suspect there will be a lot of discounting in the fourth quarter because when you enter their store they are flushed with inventory, all of them, so I think there’s going to be a big reduction.

“Traffic is down dramatically in all of these stores — some insider estimates, people on the inside of these companies, place traffic down anywhere from 20 to 30 percent,” he said. “It’s going to be a very tough fourth quarter, at least on market.

“We may see the top line improvement because of the discounting and you’re going to sell more, but we may see that the margins erode and by the way we may see comps that are not that good. Luxury right is in a very tough place, nowhere near what it was in 2008, everybody is suffering.”

Source: http://www.luxurydaily.com/nordstrom-leads-retailers-in-overall-satisfaction-luxury-institute/?utm_referrer=https%3A%2F%2Ft.co%2FFFJxcMPESf%2Fs%2FAiXG&utm_referrer=direct%2Fnot%20provided

 

October 26, 2015

Some brands fail to reach women

Warc
October 26, 2015

NEW YORK: When it comes to marketing to affluent women, some brand categories are notably more successful than others and have even improved the perception of their marketing efforts over the past three years, a new survey has shown.

Luxury Institute, a New York-based specialist research firm, ranked industries based on their success marketing to women with a minimum annual household income of $150,000 and then compared the results with a similar survey it conducted in 2012.

It found the top industries considered to be doing a good job marketing to women are clothing (75%), shampoos and conditioners (74%), fragrances and cosmetics (72%) and shoes (72%).

Compared to 2012, each of these categories achieved a wider share of women who view their marketing efforts favourably, but the jewellery and watch sector saw the biggest improvement, rising to 62% positivity from 53% in 2012.

However, the survey – which did not include a sample size – also identified industries that continue to lag in their marketing to affluent American women.

Among industries that these women say are faring badly in their marketing efforts are insurance, liquor, electronics and banks, each of them gaining approval ratings of less than 5%.

In addition, just 6% of respondents view the car industry favourably and other poor-performing sectors include real estate (7%), home improvement (8%), credit cards (13%) and pharmaceuticals (15%).

“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,” said Milton Pedraza, CEO of the Luxury Institute.

“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,” he added.

Part of that research could involve marketers taking account of the age profiles of their target audience as the survey also revealed that older women are more receptive to marketing activity.

Affluent women aged 45 to 64 generally feel that brands across industries are doing well when marketing to them, the report found, but this positive response drops among younger generations.

Source: http://www.warc.com/LatestNews/News/Some_brands_fail_to_reach_women.news?ID=35615

October 22, 2015

She Who Controls the Purse Strings

IDEX
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.

Source: http://www.idexonline.com/Memo?Id=41250

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

Luxury Daily
October 22, 2015
By: Staff Reports

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Lux institute.womens marketing graph
Graph provided by Luxury Institute 

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

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

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

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

October 15, 2015

Selling and service as terminology is dead: Luxury Institute CEO

Luxury Daily
October 15, 2015
By: Staff reports

NEW YORK – While luxury brands typically know the best practices in client building, most are not practicing these strategies for their own customers, according to the CEO of the Luxury Institute at Luxury Interactive 2015 Oct. 14.

The traditional training program for sales associates is out of date, as the focus should be on education that can be applied in a creative way rather than a rote set of rules and checklists that take the human element out of interactions. Additionally, these important members of a brand’s team should be rewarded more for their actions than their results, putting the emphasis on client retention and engagement, which will lead to sales over time.

Consumer behavior
In a survey of wealthy consumers, 68 percent of men and 64 percent of women say that their spending on luxury or premium products revolves around bricks-and-mortar. The frequent conception today is that consumers have conducted such detailed research prior to their store visit that they cannot be swayed or influenced by an associate, but Luxury Institute found 45 percent of women and 30 percent of men do not do any searching before they head to the store.

With 37 percent of men and 49 percent of women noting that they find browsing without the help of a salesperson to be most effective for finding new merchandise, brands may want to rethink their store strategies. Displays with product information or signage that assists with navigation or points out new items can help aid this independent exploration.

This eschewing of a sales associate’s assistance is even more prevalent online, where only 8 percent of men and 3 percent of women say they find new products best with the help of an associate via live chat or other online communication.

The sales associate does still have a place, but ensuring that the interaction is relevant and effective now comes down to technology. Retailers should be ensuring they are giving their salespeople the best tools since associates may think of taking their talents elsewhere if technology proves a deal-breaker.

According to a new study by Yes Lifecycle Marketing, many retailers are still unwilling or unequipped to tailor customer service to the individual.

The study looks at retailers in a variety of different sectors and finds that many have not sufficiently tracked clientele and are thus unable to provide sales associates with the personalized data that will help initiate and close a transaction. With consumers navigating freely between mobile, Web and in-store shopping, and brands therefore able to gather more information than ever before about frequent shoppers, properly cataloguing clientele has emerged as a way to provide the best possible customer service and showcase a great branded experience (see story).

Other trends shaping the luxury industry are the spending power of women, who will control the majority of assets. Seventy percent of women who inherit from their spouses change their financial advisor within a year, wanting to move on from someone who has mistreated them.

The only sectors that are successfully marketing to women are beauty and skincare.

“Beyond leaning in, you have to jump into the deep end of the pool,” said Milton Pedraza, CEO of Luxury Institute.

Source: http://www.luxurydaily.com/selling-and-service-as-terminology-is-dead-luxury-institute-ceo/?utm_referrer=direct%2Fnot%20provided

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.”

Source: http://www.retailwire.com/news-article/18579/can-a-fast-fashion-vet-steer-ralph-laurens-ship

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