Luxury Travel, Lifestyle and Marketing Trends

Real People

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The rise of selfies, success of “Real Housewives”, interest in story telling: advertising and magazine covers with real people had to come. And so it has. This fall Redbook will be forgoing celebs and opting for “real” women on its cover. The women are winners of the magazine’s Real Women Style Awards sponsored by Dove. Said an exec in Adweek, “This is just a way to put our money where our mouths are and actually celebrate these women as being just as cool and exciting and inspiring as any celebrity out there”.

And how about advertising? Have you seen the ads for Dolce & Gabbana lately? A comely model next to  Italian grandmothers that could be off the farm or from some small country village (or without the young model as in the image above). There’s also the ad campaign for Celine with 93 year old Iris Apfel who’s stylish and chic, but not your usual demographic for a high fashion brand marketing campaign. So the age barrier is starting to break and how about weight? A major step forward is Sports Illustrated’s swimsuit issue this year which included plus size models. Plus size women are also more in evidence on national television, in the interview shows.

Interestingly enough, there’s another current, and that’s the recent backlash in France against anorexic models. A debate has been going on in the French Parliament that would set minimum weights for women and girls to work as models as a way to address the serious problem of anorexia. Modeling agencies and fashion houses that employ models whose body mass indexes (BMI) don’t meet certain standards could face criminal penalties. For example, in the index a woman who is 5 feet 7 inches tall would have to weigh at least 120 pounds. Israel already has legislation in place that prohibits the use of underweight and underage models.

And the travel industry? In many cases, it still hasn’t even embraced multi-culturalism and gender diversity in advertising and website images. Fashion almost always leads the way.

High End Bricks and Mortar Retail: Last Man Standing

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All the signs are there in luxury retail trends. Soaring urban real estate costs. Inevitable lifting of rent controls, most recently in Spain. Struggling popular priced malls. Lower middle class and middle class incomes strapped by stagnating wage growth. And add to this the rapid acceleration of online shopping.  In the developed world malls and mom and pop retailers are going away, the pace picking up steam.

What will replace them? For starters, in the short term, more ubiquitous and ever larger emporiums of global luxury brands and shopping centers geared to the affluent and elite affluent. Every summer when I go to Madrid I see it happening – independent fashion boutiques replaced by the names you know. In Miami, it’s starkly apparent. With Brickell’s CitiCentre project by Swire Properties, Miami-Dade County will have four high end shopping destinations – Bal Harbour Shops, Village of Merrick Park, and the Design District. During Art Basel I paid a visit to the new section of the Design District and frankly couldn’t believe my eyes – I thought I was transported to Beijing and the shopping center adjacent to the Opposite Hotel (operated by Swire Hotels).

I wrote “the short term” because I think that longer term, the affluent will be looking for more alternatives to the same global designer fare you find in Paris, London, New York or Shanghai. LVMH, Hermes and others have recognized this, and for awhile a few years back there was talk about going global and thinking local, as in designing products that were more of the place. I think they were on to something big, but there hasn’t been much talk of that recently. Absent this, and there will come a time when the affluent will look elsewhere, which they’re already doing online.

At the same time, the cost of marketing for small, independent retailers used to make business challenging, but now, with social media, promotion for a small budget is in the cards. And how about rents? I predict independent high end retailers will thrive despite the rents, considering the kind of profit margins they enjoy.

But there’s a lesson here too for smart real estate developers. My advice? To sprinkle their shopping centers with unique shops at mid-high price points to not only provide variety, but also, draw in the lesser affluent who can make one time luxury purchases and patronize the restaurants and bars. I read that CitiCentre plans to do this very thing. The shopping part of the project is run by the owners of Bal Harbour Shops. It will be very interesting to see what they do. Stay tuned.