Luxury Institute News

October 23, 2013

Neiman Marcus Outshines the Competition For Online And In-Store Experiences Among the Wealthy

(NEW YORK) October 23, 2013 – As part of its first installment of the Luxury Multichannel Engagement Index (LMEI) survey, the New York-based Luxury Institute asked consumers from households with minimum annual income of $150,000 to share opinions and rankings of online and in-store experiences at leading luxury retailers. Neiman Marcus earns the highest overall score and stands out for garnering top honors in nine out of ten customer criteria used to evaluate both the Web and brick-and-mortar shopping experience.

Wealthy shoppers say that Neiman Marcus stores rank first for attractive displays of exclusive products, easy navigation, accessibility of customer service, personalized shopping experiences, fair prices, and for carrying ample stock and styles. Customers also laud Neiman’s salespersons for making them feel special while serving as trusted fashion advisors.

The Neiman Marcus online experience draws equally extensive praise with the top overall ranking and the highest scores on the same measures of satisfaction.

“Smart retailers realize the value of leveraging data to deliver superior experiences that build lasting customer relationships, regardless of the channel,” says Luxury Institute CEO Milton Pedraza.

Neiman plans to invest $100 million over the next three to five years on technology that will closely align inventory management, logistics and human resources across multiple retail channels.

“Every aspect of our business is being transformed by technological advancements,” said Jim Gold, president of Neiman Marcus Group, at a retailing summit in Dallas. “The lines have completely blurred between brick-and-mortar and e-commerce. The great challenge is to make the experience seamless.”

About the Luxury Institute (www.luxuryinstitute.com)
The Luxury Institute is the objective and independent global voice of the high net-worth consumer. The Institute conducts extensive and actionable research with wealthy consumers globally about their behaviors and attitudes on customer experience best practices. In addition, we work closely with top-tier luxury brands to successfully transform their organizational cultures into more profitable customer-centric enterprises. Our Customer Culture consulting process leverages our fact-based research and enables luxury brands to dramatically Outbehave as well as Outperform their competition. The Luxury Institute also operates LuxuryBoard.com, a membership-based online research portal, and the Luxury CRM Association, a membership organization dedicated to building customer-centric luxury enterprises.

October 10, 2013

Wealthy Travelers From China, Japan and Europe Rank Quality And Experience At Global Luxury Hotel Brands

(NEW YORK) October 10, 2013 – Wealthy travelers from Europe and Asia revealed their top luxury hotel picks in recent research conducted by the independent and objective New York-based Luxury Institute. Three new Luxury Brand Status Index (LBSI) reports examine the attitudes and preferences of affluent Chinese, Japanese, and European consumers as they relate to leading hotel brands.

On a 1-10 scale, wealthy respondents rated hotels on quality, exclusivity, social status, and self-enhancement. They also shared which brands are worth a luxury price tag, the hotels they would recommend, and their preferred brand for an upcoming stay.

New this year, the Luxury Institute asked consumers who recently visited a luxury hotel if their stay was for work, vacation, or both.

“Luxury hotels serve a dual purpose as destinations for both business and pleasure,” says Luxury Institute CEO Milton Pedraza. “Brands have an opportunity to deliver personalized experiences so guests will return for their next trip, regardless of the occasion.”

Affluent respondents ranked the following number of luxury hotel brands in the regions below:

Europe (U.K., Germany, France and Italy)

  • Brands rated: 31
  • Consumers surveyed: 1,516
  • Median annual HHI: £79,000 (U.K.), €69,000 (Germany), €63,000 (France), and €71,000 (Italy)
  • Median age: 47 (U.K.), 43 (Germany), 46 (France), and 42 (Italy)

China

  • Brands rated: 31
  • Consumers surveyed: 717
  • Median annual HHI: 2.5 million CNY
  • Median age: 32

Japan

  • Brands rated: 23
  • Consumers surveyed: 602
  • Median annual HHI: 20 million JPY
  • Median age: 51

To learn about the specific brands rated in each region, please contact Luxury Institute directly.

About Luxury Institute (www.LuxuryInstitute.com)
The Luxury Institute is the objective and independent global voice of the high net-worth consumer. The Institute conducts extensive and actionable research with wealthy consumers about their behaviors and attitudes on customer experience best practices. In addition, we work closely with top-tier luxury brands to successfully transform their organizational cultures into more profitable customer-centric enterprises. Our Luxury CRM Culture consulting process leverages our fact-based research and enables luxury brands to dramatically Outbehave as well as Outperform their competition. The Luxury Institute also operates LuxuryBoard.com, a membership-based online research portal, and the Luxury CRM Association, a membership organization dedicated to building customer-centric luxury enterprises.

September 26, 2013

Strategy emerges from customer culture: Luxury Institute CEO

By Joe McCarthy
Luxury Daily
September 25, 2013

NEW YORK – The CEO of The Luxury Institute at the Luxury Interactive 2013 conference said that luxury brands should focus on building a culture of relationship building and sales will follow.

The executive said that many conventional paradigms of behavior should be flipped to create an environment steeped in meaningful purpose. In his “7 Paradoxes of Luxury Marketing” talk he verified the profitability of such strategy suggestions with hard evidence.

“If you want to create a great customer culture, you have to think in terms of paradox,” said Milton Pedraza, CEO of The Luxury Institute, New York.

“Some people say culture trumps strategy, but I don’t believe that’s true,” he said. “Strategy emerges from culture.”

Internal paradigms
Mr. Pedraza discussed several remedies for poor strategies that have become entrenched in business culture.

The first paradox dealt with shifting a brand’s focus from commodities to meaningful purpose. This objective reaches beyond revising product development to facilitating a better society.

Mr. Pedraza at the Luxury Interactive 2013 conference

Next, companies should switch the tone of their command style from hierarchical and militant to empowering and creative.

Mr. Pedraza said that employees are more responsive and more likely to create innovative ideas when given liberty to act without constraints. An example of this would be giving in-store employees technology to pursue friendly relationships with customers post-purchase.

Third, Mr. Pedraza said that decision-making should incorporate employees from all levels of operation as well as consumers. When decisions are cloistered among high-level executives, simple or uncanny solutions can be overlooked.

Looking out
Educating employees should not resemble a classroom. Rather, Mr. Pedraza insisted that employees will quickly adopt brand values when trained in a gradual, interactive and personal manner.

A skill-based hiring process should be tempered with value-based merits. A candidate selected after an assessment of values will likely assimilate into brand culture with more ease.

Mr. Pedraza urged brands to incentivize the right behavior. Employees will likely be more proactive if they know their behavior is recognized.

Finally, a meaningful brand culture should be reinforced daily to ensure its fortitude. Lexus and The Ritz-Carlton were two luxury brands that Mr. Pedraza acknowledged as pioneers of meaningful brand culture.

For instance, Toyota Corp.’s Lexus is promoting the 2014 IS vehicle with a collaboratively created, stop-motion Instagram film that draws on the perspectives of 212 fans to show the vehicle in a range of angles and tones.

Under the orchestration of a directorial team during Instagram’s #WorldwideInstameet, car enthusiasts and Instagram users from a variety of background blended their personalities in a film that colorfully animates the IS. By leveraging Instagram in this unifying fashion, Lexus will likely grab the attention of a younger demographic and potentially trigger more collaborative, stop-motion films (see story).

Ultimately, if employees are infused with a sense of purpose, they will likely be more effective sales agents.

“Employees that believe companies have strong sense of purpose versus companies without purpose perform much better,” Mr. Pedraza said.

http://www.luxurydaily.com/strategy-emerges-from-customer-culture-exec/

September 23, 2013

Small Business Learns To Build Customer Loyalty Like Luxury Brands

Luxury Institute founder applies lessons learned in high-end retail to small and medium sized businesses.

(NEW YORK) September 23, 2013 – There are more than 27 million small businesses in the United States, according to the Small Business Administration, but 50% of them will fail within five years. While lack of capital is a major factor, also significant is the lack of a customer-centric culture.

“Many entrepreneurs launch businesses with a great product or service idea, and then proceed to focus on daily transactions rather than building long-term customer relationships,” says Milton Pedraza, CEO of the Customer Culture Institute. “Focusing on transactions over relationships does not breed customer loyalty.”

Successful smaller companies, says Pedraza, are organized at an early stage to deliver extraordinary experiences to every customer on a daily basis. The problem for most small businesses is a lack of expertise and a proven process.

To provide these companies with access to state-of-the-art methodologies and metrics to measure and boost customer satisfaction and loyalty, the Customer Culture Institute is launching a do-it-yourself, online software platform to help small businesses to create their own customer culture. Pedraza, who is also CEO of the highly-respected New York-based Luxury Institute, says the Customer Culture Navigator software enables business owners to communicate with and provide needed support and training for their employees in real-time.

Small business teams will use their creativity to custom design a cultural foundation with clear definitions of relationship values and standards. The software helps to train, measure and reinforce the culture daily, a process that has a track record of dramatically improved customer loyalty at large luxury and premium brands that Pedraza has previously coached.

“We help move companies away from a soulless transaction mentality to profitable long-term customer relationship building,” says Pedraza. “In essence, we teach them that outbehaving the competition leads to outperformance.”

One innovative approach Pedraza and his team have taken, is to use crowdfunding site Indiegogo to raise funds from investors in the project. The campaign can be viewed at http://www.indiegogo.com/projects/customer-culture-navigator/x/4837243.

“Online crowdfunding is an elegant win-win-win opportunity,” says Pedraza. “We have an opportunity to provide valuable resources to our funding contributors, while building a project that can transform small business culture and dramatically increase the success rate of small business.”

August 29, 2013

Retail loyalty programs add tiers to reward big spenders

By Kelli Grant
CNBC
August 28, 2013

Taking a page from airline programs, more retailers are adding elite levels with extra perks to their loyalty packages. But shoppers may find membership nearly as pricey as a first-class airline ticket.

In July, Sephora relaunched its Beauty Insider program, adding a reward level with free shipping, early access to new products and sales as well as VIP event invites for shoppers who spend $1,000 or more in a year. Around the same time, flash-sale site Gilt.com introduced its Gilt Insider Program, awarding shoppers five points per dollar spent and weekly bonuses for interacting with the brand. Tiers with extra benefits such as exclusive sales and a VIP customer service line kick in at the 5,000-, 10,000- and 25,000-point thresholds.

“To make it fair we crafted a program that rewarded engagement, i.e. site visitation and social interaction, in addition to purchasing, so that members could advance up tiers as they earned points,” said Elizabeth Francis, Gilt.com’s chief marketing officer.

Click the link to read the entire article which includes a quote from Milton Pedraza, CEO of Luxury Institute:
http://www.cnbc.com/id/100991902

June 20, 2013

Ultra-Wealthy Shoppers Flock To Nordstrom But Barneys, Bergdorf And Neiman Cultivate Relationship Business

(NEW YORK) June 20, 2013 – The Luxury Institute surveyed consumers with minimum net worth of $5 million about top luxury retailers they purchase from, and the relationships they maintain with luxury sales professionals.

Nordstrom boasts the largest share of pentamillionaire purchasers, with a majority of ultra-wealthy consumers buying something from the Seattle-based luxury retailer in the last year.  Rounding out the top three in terms of popularity are Bloomingdale’s and Neiman Marcus.

Marquee names selling higher-ticket luxury items make up for a lack of widespread appeal with deeper customer relationships. Sales professionals at both Barneys New York and Neiman Marcus rise above the competition in building relationships with pentamillionaire clients.  Similarly, Bergdorf Goodman’s market share among ultra-wealthy shoppers is just one-fourth the size of Nordstrom’s, but the prevalence of customer-salesperson relationships at Bergdorf is triple the rate at Nordstrom.

Sales professionals at more mainstream retailers like Nordstrom and Bloomingdale’s are far less likely to have cultivated exclusive relationships.  Relationships are more prevalent among women than men, and those under the age of 65 compared to those who are older.

“Technology may make it easier for sales professionals to maintain relationships,” says Luxury Institute CEO Milton Pedraza. “But simple and personalized approaches like follow-up phone calls or handwritten thank you notes still prove tremendously effective.”

Respondents also ranked the comparative importance of the qualities they seek in sales professionals from luxury retailers, such as recognizing them when they visit the store, receiving calls and emails with special product offers, and making them feel comfortable.

About Luxury Institute (www.LuxuryInstitute.com)
The Luxury Institute is the objective and independent global voice of the high net-worth consumer. The Institute conducts extensive and actionable research with wealthy consumers about their behaviors and attitudes on customer experience best practices. In addition, we work closely with top-tier luxury brands to successfully transform their organizational cultures into more profitable customer-centric enterprises. Our Luxury CRM Culture consulting process leverages our fact-based research and enables luxury brands to dramatically Outbehave as well as Outperform their competition. The Luxury Institute also operates LuxuryBoard.com, a membership-based online research portal, and the Luxury CRM Association, a membership organization dedicated to building customer-centric luxury enterprises.

October 17, 2012

Luxury Institute exec: Humanize first, mobilize second

By: Rimma Kats
Luxury Daily
October 17, 2012

NEW YORK – A Luxury Institute executive at the Luxury Interactive 2012 conference said that brands must understand the value and potential of personal sales associate communications versus mass emails from corporate.

During the “Optimizing Mobile Technology to Build Customer Relationships” session, the executive addressed how mobile technology is not a differentiator, but a utility. Moreover, it is how marketers use the technology that matters.

“It’s all about the human-to-human relationships,” said Milton Pedraza, CEO of Luxury Institute, New York. “The biggest opportunity to use mobile to drive profits is customer relationship building.”

Click the link to read the entire article which includes quotes from Milton Pedraza, CEO of Luxury Institute: http://www.luxurydaily.com/luxury-institute-exec-humanize-first-mobilize-second/

October 11, 2012

Ultra-Wealthy Shoppers Spend More On Luxury Where They Maintain Personal Relationships; Pentamillionaires most likely to be close with specific sales professionals at Barneys, Bergdorf Goodman

(NEW YORK) October 11, 2012 – U.S. consumers with at least $5 million in assets and $200,000 in annual income share detailed opinions and observations about their relationships with salespeople in six luxury categories in the new 2012 Luxury Customer Relationship Index survey from the independent and objective New York-based Luxury Institute.

High-ticket categories show higher rates of customers who deal with a specific salesperson.  Watches (49%) lead all categories in terms of proportion of customers who maintain relationships with salespeople, followed by jewelry (40%) and men’s ready-to-wear (38%). There is a noticeable drop-off in rates of personal relationships at luxury retailers (30%), handbag brands (27%) and women’s ready-to-wear (21%).

Across categories, 70% of ultra-wealthy customers who transact and communicate with a specific salesperson say that this relationship causes them to spend more on goods and services in stores and on the Web. The biggest positive impact on sales comes when customers maintain relationships with salespeople in luxury retail, and in both men’s and women’s ready-to-wear categories.

In luxury retail, Bergdorf Goodman (51%) and Barneys (49%) enjoy the highest rates of maintaining relationships with ultra-wealthy customers, with larger chains like Bloomingdale’s and Nordstrom seeing lower incidence of relationships. In the middle are Brooks Brothers (36%), Neiman Marcus (32%), Lord & Taylor (30%), and Saks (26%).

“Luxury retailers know that relationships drive sales,” says Luxury Institute CEO Milton Pedraza. “The right hiring, education programs and Customer Culture help to promote more productive relationships and higher sales.”

About the Luxury Institute (www.LuxuryInstitute.com)
The Luxury Institute is the objective and independent global voice of the high net-worth consumer. The Institute conducts extensive and actionable research with wealthy consumers about their behaviors and attitudes on customer experience best practices. In addition, we work closely with top-tier luxury brands to successfully transform their organizational cultures into more profitable customer-centric enterprises. Our Luxury CRM Culture consulting process leverages our fact-based research and enables luxury brands to dramatically Outbehave as well as Outperform their competition. The Luxury Institute also operates LuxuryBoard.com, a membership-based online research portal, and the Luxury CRM Association, a membership organization dedicated to building customer-centric luxury enterprises.

August 7, 2012

10 Things Apple Won’t Tell You

From customer service to app safety and even how its devices affect our relationships, here are 10 things Apple won’t likely tell you about its products and its business.

By Quentin Fottrell
SmartMoney
August 6, 2012

1.”Our customers are worn out.”

All that initial excitement over the first iPhone or iPad has quickly given way to what analysts are dubbing “upgrade fatigue” — with even Apple’s most loyal customers upset about the steady stream of newer models. In fact, when people buy Apple’s latest product, the company is usually already preparing its replacement, says technology consultant Patchen Barrs, who has owned 25 Apple products over the last 20 years. “Everything we buy from them is already out of date,” he says. Take a count: Since 2001, there have been six iPods, two iPod minis, six iPod Nanos, four iPod Shuffles and four editions of the iPod Touch. Apple has released five iPhone models since 2007 and has had three iPads since 2010.

Of course, newer models have their upsides: They’re usually slimmer, faster and have additional features like better cameras and improved screen quality. And Apple, which declined to comment for this story, has said that such improvements more than justify the fast pace of their new additions. (In March, for example, Apple spokeswoman Trudy Muller said the latest iPad delivered a “stunning” screen display.) But that argument isn’t enough to appease some cash-strapped consumers. Almost 50% of consumers say they’re increasingly unwilling to buy new products for fear that they will be rendered outdated by even newer versions, according to a recent survey of 2,000 people by Marketing Magazine in the U.K.

Click the link to read the entire article which includes a quote from Milton Pedraza, CEO of Luxury Institute: http://www.marketwatch.com/Story/Story/?guid={61E63842-DFED-11E1-961B-002128049AD6}

August 6, 2012

As Nordstrom’s arrival looms, rival stores sharpen up

By Marina Strauss
The Globe and Mail
August 5, 2012

Erik Nordstrom likes to boast about his employees going the extra mile at the upscale U.S. retailer that bears his name.

Recently, the great-grandson of the founder of Nordstrom Inc. told the story of a maintenance staff worker who discovered a Nordstrom shopping bag filled with $800 worth of goods in the parking lot of a Farmington, Conn., store.

Flight information in the package helped the employee identify the customer, whom he dialled three times.

She failed to pick up because, she said later, she didn’t recognize the number on her mobile’s call display. Realizing her flight was leaving soon, he drove 200 kilometres – two hours – to John F. Kennedy Airport in New York, and after having her paged at the airport, triumphantly handed her the bag.

She offered him money for gas, but he refused.

“We don’t nail it all the time, by any means, but we’re fortunate to have some really terrific people in this company who care a lot … about their customers,” Mr. Nordstrom, the company’s president of stores, told the retailer’s annual meeting in May.

Click the link to read the entire article: http://www.theglobeandmail.com/report-on-business/as-nordstroms-arrival-looms-rival-stores-sharpen-up/article4464192/

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