Luxury Travel, Lifestyle and Marketing Trends
If you go to the opera, symphony, and possibly less so ballet in the US, most of the patrons are over 50. Arts and cultural organizations have realized they have to reach out to younger generations, especially Millennials, but also Gen Z. So no surprise museums are hosting admission free evenings with a DJ or live music. Social groups with names like “Young Contemporaries” have special programming that allows for socializing as well as cultural content. Special concerts are designed to appeal to families. Museum restaurants do themed dinners, reaching out to “foodies”. The goal? To make this demographic feel comfortable and at home, build attendance and loyalty.
One of the more comprehensive programs I’ve come across that has a community relations component as well is the PNC-initiated Look!Reflect!Connect!: Art Explorations for Young Children at the Barnes Foundation in Philadelphia. The program is aimed at bringing the arts into the lives of underserved three to five year olds. It’s a combination of interactive classroom experience and gallery visits to the Barnes. Another important element is professional development for pre-K teachers and a family event.
Seven schools participated last year representing 400 participating students. “The Barnes is committed to building greater ties with the community and serving an even broader audience, “said Tiffany Allen, Grow Up Great Coordinator of the Barnes Foundation. The Cleveland Museum of Art has a similar program.
Look! Reflect! Connect! at the Barnes was initiated as part of PNC’s Grow up Great program. Grow Up Great is a nationwide initiative at various cultural institutions in cities that PNC is present. Let’s hope other corporations and cultural institutions follow suit.
The Paris based Maison & Objet, which calls itself the “premiere arbiter of global luxury in the home market” is in Miami this week, the first time in the Americas for this prestigious multi-day event. The Show attracted 340 exhibitors and featured 20 conference topics with thought leaders in design and retailing.I attended one of the seminars on Offline Retail Innovation with panelists Davide Berruto, Founder and Creative Director of Environment and shelter half ;Fernanda Rezende and Cristina Rogozinski, founders of the Brazilian concept store, Amoreira, and moderator Richard Cook, Editorial Director of Wallpaper magazine.
Panelists shared their keys to success and “how to get customers to discover something they didn’t know they wanted”. Here are the highlights:
We’ve all been hearing that travel, retail, it’s all about the experience. LVMH and its brands have recently taken to setting up posh suites in shops for VIPs where they can relax, enjoy refreshment, and possibly meet up with friends so they feel at home. Panelist Berruto has taken the retail experience to a new level, creating a rental home furnished with his products in Venice, California where everything is for sale. The home can be rented by individuals and also for events. He firmly believes that offline retail has to give the feeling, touch, and sound of the product to customers, which is something online can’t offer. “We’re in the theater business,” he said . Does the rental drive a lot of product sales? No, but he has gotten terrific feedback about the positive experience and I’m sure it does wonders to create a “buzz” (he also gets inquiries about whether he can design their homes and I would think he gets guest feedback as well about ideas for product enhancements).
Amoreira’s successful approach in creating a destination store is about creating a slow shopping experience, one of calm, relaxation, and a place to decompress on the one hand, and on the other, creating events as reasons to visit — workshops with designers, popups, book readings. They also carry exclusive, one of a kind merchandise. When it sells out, they replace it, which often entails changing the layout in that specific area . So customers are regularly greeted by not only products that change, but also the layout. In line with their “natural” approach, they eschew ambient perfumed fragrances for the aroma of freshly brewed coffee which clients can enjoy with their home baked cakes.
I asked about service and how to set yourself apart from online retailers? They both emphasized how training is more important than ever, imbuing the team with the story of the product which they can relate to customers and projecting their passion.
Recently I read in Adweek about how Ikea in China had to stop people from sleeping in the their bedrooms in the store. Based on this panel discussion, maybe instead they should set up a sample room for sleeping albeit with a time limit on the snooze? What do you think?
A colleague said she developed a high end cooking tour to Italy, 7 days with classes each day and stays in Renaissance palaces. The cost? $10K plus airfare. She said she was concerned that she might not be able to sell it at that price. My advice to her? Charge a lot more and you’ll sell it.
As Robert Frank, chronicler of the top 1% wrote, today there are the “haves and the have mores”. And what’s selling are products and services for the top one-hundredth of the 1 percent. While sales of the smaller, cheaper jets, and 150 to 200 foot yachts have dropped, sales of $65 G650 Gulfstream private jumbo jets and yachts over 250 feet are booming (the largest is now the 590 foot Azzam owned by the president of the United Arab Emirates). A recent article by Frank in the New York Times quoted Jim Taylor, a wealth specialist and managing partner of YouGov, a marketing research and survey firm who said, “ The very wealthy are often the ones pulling the trigger right now, and they have a very big trigger.”
How many are in this financial stratosphere and what’s their fortune? The 16,000 families in this category have fortunes of at least $111 million. And, parenthetically, they’re also buying double digit million dollar condos and houses and art. Not surprising the art world continues to break records. If these ultra rich have to fly commercial – pardon the expression – there are new facilities for them as well. Eithad Airways’ A380 has a $20,000 suite with three rooms and dedicated butler and within no time of its being announced, its 10 initial flights were booked.
To be sure, this is a limited market in terms of the numbers. But then again, with the markups and commissions to be had, you sure don’t have to sell a lot to make a good chunk of change.
Understanding the world today is looking at it through the prism of neo-tribalism. It’s the macro and the micro, informing everything from politics and economics to lifestyle and marketing. I wrote about it back in 2006 as an emerging trend in our Luxury Travel and Lifestyle Trends newsletter. Here’s what appeared (to read more, click here):
Now, almost 8 years later, it has come full bloom — not the apocalypse Wacker predicted, though sometimes after reading the newspaper I think that’s around the corner.We’re living in a time of tremendous change. The Wall Street Journal called it “an arc of instability” not seen since the late 70’s. and people worldwide are looking for refuge in their groups — religious, ethnic, economic, and social. So what does this mean for marketers? The niche a.k.a. tribal plays will continue to grow, fueled by the perfect distribution channel – social media. Consumers, barraged by change and often fearful, will increasingly look for comfort and convenience and to family and friends and others of like interests at home and in their travels . Always on top of trends (and setting them), Marriott and MIT recently announced an app to connect hotel guests with shared interests who are staying at the same hotel. Can’t wait to see more. Intriguing.
By Karen Weiner Escalera
What’s the future of print magazines? Are they doomed? If a gauge of their influence is a function of how newsworthy they are (other than news reports about media groups from Hachette to Time Warner and Hearst being bought), then one could think they¹re hardly relevant. I recently met with Sara “Fifi” Castany, a legend in publishing, and former editor of big titles ranging from the Spanish language versions of Cosmopolitan and Ocean Drive, to luxury custom publications such as Bal Harbour and Fisher Island magazines. Now owner of her own custom publishing company, Sareli Media Group, I asked her about the role of print magazines in the future.
“I think we are experiencing an important transformation in the publishing industry,” said Castany. “We can¹t deny the Internet has impacted our
business, but print is hardly dead, the playing field is just changing. Who will survive? The really great magazines will, the ones that have managed to be exciting and unique in a niche market, ” she continued.
What I found most interesting about what she had to say was how luxury brands are selling products by transforming their catalogues into quasi
lifestyle magazines. An early adopter of this marketing strategy was Williams Sonoma who started featuring recipes in their catalogues along with
carefully styled displays of tables set for the holidays with their dinnerware, linens and enticing meals.
“These product catalogs with integrated editorial content are called magalogs, and they are very effective in engaging the consumer and enhancing
the shopping experience,” said Castany. “Neiman Marcus started out by including fashion trends and unique gift guides. Today their catalogs are
must-haves for any fashion savvy customers,” she added.
In house hotel magazines have tended to be little more than advertising vehicles that have a branding benefit – association with other luxury brands and thick, glossy stock that makes a luxury statement.There’s a lot of room to adopt this new “magalog” formula to travel industry products and combine the best of both — what has existed with a new service orientation.
The days of the mass market magazine are just about over. For magazines, it’s about luxury and niche titles that are indulgences. Nothing like going to the beach with a cool drink in hand and a stack of my favorite magazines.
When even Apple, an icon of high technology, makes moves to become what tech analysis site Stratechery called a fashion house, you know there’s something major afoot in branding. For those who haven’t read it, an important article, “Apple’s Team of Tastemakers” appeared in the New York Times recently about the company’s hires of tastemakers from Yves St.Laurent and Burberry to the addition of Beats’ founders Dr Dre and Jimmy Iovine for top management positions. Their mandate is to remake the marketing strategy.
What is this about? Design and fashon that are leading the lifestyle charge. We see this across product categories and price points. If anything, expect it to accelerate with marketers’ attention turning increasingly to Millennials whom research has shown to expect a major dose of style and good design,
This hasn’t been lost on the hotel industry as major groups continue to announce new lifestyle brands that they always bill as design forward, one of the latest being AC by Marriott. I couldn’t help but think will we soon see yet another new brand — the hotel counterpart to a Zara or an H & M — low cost, big fashion statement, and wildly successful? And then many of these same groups have new executive positions with serious titles who are like creative directors, helping ensure the brands continue to align with changing design and fashion values.
Travelers are seeing hotels with new eyes and new words to describe the hotel product.I couldn’t help but think about the term “boutique hotel” which, when first deployed, implied a property with special style. Not so much anymore.With simple bed and breakfasts calling themselves boutiques, will this term become meaningless? I think so.
Amenities, even ones with a “wow” don’t seem enough to cut it these days. Travelers are going beyond that, looking for fresh new looks that excite and entertain. A large dose of creativity is just what the hotel doctor calls for.
For more on hotels and fashion brands, click here to read a previous post on the topic.
How to get maximum promotional benefit from a sponsorship, especially one involving funding free admission to a museum or event? ING came up with a brilliant idea. As an offshoot of sponsoring free admission celebrating the reopening of the Netherlands’ Rijksmuseum, they recreated a living version of one of Rembrandt’s most famous works – The Nightwatch, in a major shopping center. The video of the live tableau went viral gobally, seen by over 4 million people on You Tube. The promotion is part of an ongoing collaboration between the museum and ING dating back to 2005. It includes the central museum and an annex in Schiphol Airport, the only airport in the world to have a museum. Account holders are offered a 50% discount by showing their card. Congratulations ING.
As you probably know by now, we are major proponents of the importance of going niche, even micro-niche having written about its emergence and acceleration since 2005, the founding year of our Luxury Travel and Lifestyle Trends newsletter. But the latest incarnation surprised us – microniche online dating sites, with services we would never have guessed. We’ve already seen fractioning sites for everyone from Christians, Catholics and Jews, to seniors and millennials; now there are new entrants for farmers, gluten-free singles and devotees of Ayn Rand, The American novelist, philosopher, playwright and screenwriter. Farmers Only boasts 100,000 users with the tagline: “City folks just don’t get it”. (Not sure where that leaves urban farmers). The already ten year old site, THE Atlasphere has 16,000 dating profiles, where followers of Ayn Rand can meet online for conversation and possible meet-ups. Feeling alone, awkward, or a burden because you’re gluten-free? The most recent entrant is GlutenFree Singles that would seem to be a prime target for romantic resorts offering gluten free menus.
What possibly could be next? We’d love to hear your ideas. For a more in depth read,you might enjoy this article in the Wall Street Journal, “Farmer Seeks Same: Looking for Love in All the Niche Places” (love the title).
A European research firm interviewed me the other day about the luxury market —- trends in marketing, product, services. One of the more interesting questions they asked was where luxury is going in the next 5 to 10 years. My predictions are:
– Affluents will want more of a say in designing the products and services
– We’ll see the growth in offerings of bespoke products
– The use of crowdsourcing even at the highest levels. The challenge will be for brands to maintain quality while soliciting input from their customers.
– The big wild card is what will happen with luxury with the next generation, Gen Y. They’re growing up in the midst of serious job scarcities for college graduates. Will this shape their buying patterns with a recession mentality, much like what happened with their grandparents? That won’t necessarily result in a decline in the luxury market, but rather, reinforce some of the luxury values, which have emerged in the last five years — an emphasis on quality, value and investment.
Look for more predictions in our next Luxury Travel and Lifestyle Trends newsletter. We invite you to sign up to be on our mailing list.
– Karen Weiner Escalera, President & Chief Strategist of KWE Partners
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