The Luxury Letter Blog


Guide to Luxury Brand Success in Economic Downturns
November 4, 2008, 2:43 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

By Milton Pedraza, CEO of the Luxury Institute, LLCfinalcrop1626-12

First the story was that luxury was omnipotent and luxury consumers were immune. Even the “affluents” were trading up, they said, and luxury could do no wrong. Now the story is that luxury has lost its luster and even the wealthiest are bailing out. Makes for great headlines.

Neither view was, or is, an absolute truth. The luxury market and wealth segments are very dynamic, comprised of different products and services categories, and different segments of wealth that respond differently to economic cycles. The responses are driven by both consumer demand and psychology.

It is true that things are never as good, or as bad, thankfully, as we make them out to be. Even consumers, reporting their expenditures, past and future, and their attitudes and sentiments, tend to get it very wrong most of the time. For proof, go no further than current political polls. Try to correlate consumer sentiment indexes with retail sales over a long period of time. It is tough to achieve. That is not to say these are not useful exercises conducted by well-intentioned professionals, and may be good indicators of consumer perceptions at the time. Overall, however, we believe that current rumors of luxury’s demise are greatly exaggerated—as exaggerated as the previous estimates of never-ending growth.

Luxury Institute and Global Insight research show that the reality is that luxury is cyclical and always has been, as are all other industries, and that the luxury winners take a long-term view and business approach. We believe strongly that despite the recent crisis of confidence, the global economic fundamentals make it likely that millions will continue to be lifted from poverty and that millions more will become millionaires around the world in the next few decades.

Freely available technological innovation and emerging market population growth in economies that have the legal frameworks to support entrepreneurship and property ownership—and the eventual availability of capital—bode well for the future of luxury goods—and especially luxury services. In more mature markets, this economic cycle, like all others preceding it, will turn. When it does, the current mentality of retrenchment will yield again to one of acquisitiveness.

Downturns, however, do not need to be downtime for luxury executives. Here are seven “tough-love” steps from the independent and impartial Luxury Institute, to ensure that your brand not only survives, but thrives, in this current serious economic downturn.

1.) Eliminate the Hobbies: Many luxury brands have entered into categories where they have no expertise or credentials, merely because they want to be “lifestyle” brands. Some categories are logical extensions for a luxury brand. Most are not a good fit, and will be marginally profitable. Fashion brands are notorious for pasting their logo on anything that they think will generate growth regardless of the impact on the long-term brand equity, and the long-term bottom line. Wealthy consumers are highly discerning, educated buyers. Several years of Luxury Institute empirical research shows that wealthy consumers prefer, and are willing to pay a significant price premium for, brands that are specialists. Leiber in handbags, Harry Winston in jewelry, Christian Louboutin in women’s shoes, and Berluti in men’s shoes are brands that wealthy consumers rate highest as category specialists. Conduct a rigorous assessment of your brand’s category portfolio and unflinchingly eliminate the marginal “hobby” categories. Renew your focus on what you do best and innovate within those categories.

2.) Go Up-Market Right Now: One of the great ways to kill a luxury brand, albeit slowly, is to go down-market. Gucci was a great comeback story because someone had decimated it before Tom Ford saved it. It is the “boiled frog” syndrome. The warm water feels so good that the frog doesn’t know it’s being made into soup till the water starts to boil. By then, it is too late to bail. If you are a luxury brand that really aspires to be a mass brand, then create and execute a strategy to be distributed in as many mass-market outlets as possible. You have lots of choices. If you aspire to be a top-rated luxury brand, then Luxury Institute research says that you must serve high net worth consumers, be unique and exclusive, your distribution must be limited, and your service impeccable. Great quality is not enough. Focus on going up-market with bespoke, one-of-a-kind, custom made, made-to-order, or limited edition products and deliver service to match. Only then will the new, growing multi-millionaire consumers globally be willing to pay a premium for your products long term. That’s your growth strategy.

3.) Innovate and Dare to Be Different for a Change: Luxury firms have homogenized luxury to the point that 63% of wealthy consumers feel that luxury is being commoditized. Walk down most high streets such as Fifth Avenue, Avenue Montaigne, and Bond Street and you see the same look and feel in store designs and products, to the point that you can take away the store signs and logos and wealthy consumers would probably not be able to identify who is who. Same is true for services. It is time to stop emulating your competition and to begin innovating such that you are creating never-before-seen products and categories that are relevant and revolutionize your industry. Companies like Apple are beating luxury at its own game by creating great products and services, innovating features and benefits, and charging a premium. Now Apple stores are becoming high tech/high-touch destinations. If luxury has any claim to fame it is in innovation and novelty. Demand innovation and you will get it.

4.) Leverage Your PR, Not Your Advertising: Especially in challenging economic times, every communication dollar counts. Public relations is a far more effective and credible vehicle for persuasion of key constituents than advertising. Give your agency the opportunity to communicate the authenticity and rich history of your brand, your brand icon, your brand integrity, your brand’s corporate citizenship, your knowledge of the category via your vast internal data, and most importantly, your breakthrough innovations.

5.) Deliver Extraordinary Experiences: The truth about extraordinary customer experiences is that they are delivered not with gimmicks and props, but by talented, caring people who connect with customers one-on one. How much extra does it cost you to staff your company with people who are experts in your products, and even your competitors’ products? Who are trustworthy? Whose interests are aligned with your clients? Who are genuinely interested in helping people with a smile? Great people are the most difficult resource to scale, yet companies such as Ritz-Carlton and Nordstrom manage to do it despite their size. Wealthy consumers consistently tell us that both deliver extraordinary customer experiences. Apple now has better experiential stores than many luxury firms. And it is not the bricks and mortar—or frosted glass in the case of Apple—that are delivering that. When will wealthy consumers, the only constituents who count, rank your brand at the top for delivering a superior customer experience?

6.) Innovate Online: Luxury brands have been in perpetual debate over whether they should be present and sell online or not, and if they do, how to advertise online. Reminds you of the dotcom era when so many “experts” were vigorously debating whether content was king on the Internet, and whether technology would become a commodity. Thankfully, the Internet debate is over for most luxury brands. Now is the time to use this rich channel to reach wealthy consumers around the globe no matter where on earth you happen to be located. If a luxury brand asks whether they should spend scarce funds on opening another store, launching a print advertising campaign, or investing in a great website and online advertising, the Internet wins every time as the fastest, cheapest, and most effective way to leverage a luxury brand in today’s global marketplace.

7.) Let the Voice of Your Customer be Your Guide: Strategy meetings are great, but you will find yourself in circular groupthink in economic downturns. Everyone will want to play defense, but what you need now is a great offense. Inject the voice of the wealthy consumer into your strategy sessions. Use internal and external quantitative research, create an online community, mine your transactional database, engage customers one-on-one at point of purchase. In effect, do whatever it takes to understand what consumers are thinking right now and why they are behaving the way they are. Find ways to put consumer feedback into practice immediately. Your customer will guide you to succeed in any landscape, including a downturn. This, too, shall pass, and your brand will be the stronger for it.

8.) Outbehave Your Competition: In his book, How, Dov Seidman explains that in a commoditized and undifferentiated world, you not only have to outperform your competitors; you must outbehave them. The Luxury Institute has found that 57 percent of wealthy consumers prefer products and services from companies that are socially responsible. That means being completely ethical with all of your constituents, being charitable, and being eco-friendly. The recent events on Wall Street, and their effects on the world economy, have heightened what it means to be socially responsible. Recession or no recession, brands that meet those standards will ultimately survive and thrive.

Business & Finance Publications – Brand Status

Luxury Institute Survey: Wealthy U.S. Consumers Rate the Most Prestigious Business and Finance Publications: Wall Street Journal, the Economist and Morningstar



PUBLISHER SPOTLIGHT: INTERNET BUSINESS LAW SERVICES (IBLS)
November 4, 2008, 2:32 pm
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Publisher Spotlight:iblspicture

Each month we will be featuring luxury consumer websites, ad agencies, marketing firms and the people behind their success. This month we interviewed Ana Penn (right), founder and CEO of Internet Business Law Services (IBLS).
By Hibben Silvo, Editor

Every game has its rules, and Internet Business Law Services (IBLS) is the keeper of the Internet’s.  In the vast expanse that is the world wide web a framework of policies has been established to ensure that its players play fair.  Their website describes them as, ” the leader in keeping everyone who uses the Internet apprised of the global laws and regulations that affect their online experience.”

With every advertising dollar needing to be carefully spent, sometimes thinking outside the box is the best game plan of all.  IBLS may not be the first to come to an advertiser’s mind when planning a luxury campaign but they couldn’t be a more perfect fit.  With an average House Hold Income of $200k and an international reach that extends to 200 different countries IBLS is a site that will ensure your ads are catching the attention of the exact calibur of consumer your campaigns are targeting.

Ana Penn, IBLS’s founder and CEO, was kind enough to answer some of our questions:
Publisher Questionnaire

Adcision:
Why did you launch _IBLS_. com and what need has it fulfilled?

Ana: IBLS was launched in 2000 because there simply wasn’t anywhere to go to find out what the laws and regulations of doing business over the Internet were.  We have fulfilled the unique niche of easy to read and understand E-commerce legal information and online education for business and legal professionals from around the world.
iblsscreenshot
Adcision: Which three brands are you the most proud to have run on your site?

Ana: Horchow, Christies and Five Star Alliance.

Adcision: Give me an example of something your readers discovered on your site that they probably wouldn’t have known about otherwise.

Ana: How easily understood our legal summaries are when written in non-legal ease by some of the worlds leading attorneys.

Adcision:
Please describe a typical visitor to your site — what he/she is like, what motivates them to visit, what engages them while they are there.

Ana: The typical visitor to the site is a high level business executive or government official who is looking for answers to an E-commerce legal question, or is looking to increase their knowledge in a variety of E-commerce law fields.  They typically stay due to the diverse amount of proprietary content and network of professionals that they have access to.

Adcision: Does your site have any unique features that you’re proud of?


Ana: We have many unique features on our site that we are proud of.  First of all, our “Digital Library” is the only one of it’s kind.   All of the legal summaries are written by E-commerce experts from all around the world and they are in non-legal ease so that they are easily understood by all business people, attorneys and government officials.  We also have the only online masters degree program in law that is approved by the ABA (American Bar Association).

Adcision: What do you wish more people knew about your “publication”?

Ana: How easily accessible the information is, which can save companies thousands of dollars on attorneys fees or fines and link them directly to the experts who wrote the articles.

Adcision: Can you namedrop… any well-known persons engaged with your site?

Ana: We have had two separate U.S. Federal Trade Commissioners fly out from Washington to be the keynote speakers at our 2 global conferences.  We are also preparing to publish a traditional book on E-commerce taxation with Oxford University Press, who are the oldest publishers in the world.  We anticipate the book coming out in March.  Lexis Nexis, Westlaw and EBSCO are also some of our legal publishing partners that we are proud to be associated with.

Adcision: What is the best source of traffic to your website?

Ana: Our bi-weekly Internet Law News portal, it has given us great exposure on all the major search engines and gained a very loyal and growing readership.

Adcision: How do you get your content?

Ana: From our over 450 law firm charter partners from 42 countries.

Adcision: Please share some demographic information about your audience (i.e. average home value, average HHI, male/female ratio, etc.)

Ana: Our average audience member is approximately 45, 65% male and 35% female with a HHI of $110,000


Looking Ahead: Planning Your 2009 Campaigns
October 7, 2008, 1:41 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

By Hibben Silvo, Editor

Our parents and teachers told us time and time again not to procrastinate, and now that 2009 is around the corner the same advice applies.   With the economy in bad shape, and no clear improvement in sight, planning ahead is even more important than ever.  Many companies are quick to cut their marketing and advertising budgets when times get tough, but this can be the most costly move of all. MarketingSherpa Publisher Todd Lebo says that, “If marketers want to flourish regardless of the economy, they need to justify each and every marketing tactic.  There is a surprising amount of change in how companies plan to spend their marketing dollars in 2009.”  These changes are positive but it is also increasingly necessary to plan advertising campaigns with efficiency in mind; every dollar has to count.

At Adcision, the publishers of this newsletter, we pride ourselves on offering our advertisers transparency, targeting and optimization.  It’s ‘Advertising 101’ that a targeted campaign will yield better results than one in which an ad appears on just any website.  This is especially the case in the luxury market, you must ensure that your ad is being seen by consumers who can afford premium products and services.  Transparency and optimization takes a targeted campaign to the next level.  The ability to control which sites your ads appear on, how many impressions are dedicated to each site, and to edit and optimize throughout the campaign will ensure that your budget is being spent efficiently.

Creativity is key and the Internet is filled with a never-ending source of possibilities.  It’s a relatively untapped resource, especially by advertisers who often think their only options lie within traditional display advertising.  Adcision encourages our advertisers to think outside the box when planning their campaigns.  There is unlimited potential; from new ad formats (ad widgets, video, etc.) to page and event sponsorships.  There are even dedicated email blasts and sponsored posts and e-newsletters available.  These are just a few ways to promote your brand on the Internet and we welcome and challenge you to come up with your own.

Don’t just think outside the box, but think outside the United States.  There are growing luxury Markets in India and China.  Global chief executives of Mediaedge:cia Worldwide Ltd (MEC) and MPG have recognized the value of these markets and recently spent time in India planning their business strategies for the coming year. I hope that many others can identify the benefits of investing in these markets and follow suit.

If all these reasons haven’t inspired you to start planning ahead then here’s another: some publishers will allow you to book 2008 rates for 2009 if you reserve space before January 1st.  Just because you are a premium advertiser does not mean you can’t bargain hunt.  By booking now you not only save money but you secure premium ad space so that you are guaranteed to run on the sites and pages of the greatest value to you.  So, plan now, book now, and you will have a little extra room in your budget for an extra e-newsletter sponsorship or a few dedicated email blasts.

Here is a summary of our advice for planning your 2009 campaigns:
–    The economy is bad, but that doesn’t mean your advertising campaign has to reflect that – targeting,       transparency, and optimization are key.
–    Creativity will get you noticed – don’t feel locked in to traditional display advertising.
–    New Markets mean new business – the United States isn’t the only affluent audience on the web.
–    The early bird special looks better every day – plan and book ahead of time to secure 2008 rates.
–    Consider Adcision Luxury Media as a new channel for reaching affluent consumers.  Call us at 703-837-0870.



Publisher Spotlight: Lift Magazine
October 7, 2008, 1:36 pm
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Publisher Spotlight:

Each month we will be featuring luxury consumer websites, ad agencies, marketing firms and the people behind their success. This month we interviewed Tanya Ryno of LIFT Magazine.
By Hibben Silvo, Editor

Tanya Ryno claims that she is in pursuit of the 25-hour day, well with several years under her belt as a producer for Saturday Night Live, a writer for Weblogs Inc., a photographer, a movie on the Sundance Channel, and a phenomenal fitness website to boot, I think it’s safe to say she has found it. Tanya is the founder of a site called LIFT Magazine; it is dedicated to those with a keen sense of adventure and a zest for fitness and the outdoors. Lift features the most up to date and top of the line fitness equipment and gadgets along with spotlights on individual athletes (both professional and amateur), fun facts, and other outside-the-box tidbits (Lingerie Football League anyone?).

Tanya took a moment out of her 25-hour day to answer some of our questions about herself and LIFT. On a second thought, she was most likely also running a marathon, cooking dinner, and scouring the web for great new articles to share with the site’s followers. Here are her answers below:

Biography: As an established film/tv producer, an entrepreneur, a photographer by hobby and a writer who is continually in search of the 25-hour day, I live by my own motto by working hard and playing harder.

Adcision: Why did you launch lift-magazine.com and what need has it fulfilled?

Tanya: I originally launched LIFT Magazine to help out my husband’s business … but it soon took on a life of its own and expanded with an audience that kept coming back for more.

My mission is to give a fresh perspective and strong voice to any product or person that brings exciting innovations to our lives and encourages us to get off our lazy asses and enjoy the luxuries that life has to offer.

LIFT quickly became a web magazine for the adventurer in all of us (not necessarily the gym goer) — urban men and women who work hard and play harder. And, LIFT readers have reached a time in their lives when they have the means, passion, health, and experience to enjoy what life has to offer. They love challenges, appreciate quality, and pursue excellence.


Adcision: Which three brands are you the most proud to have run on your site?

Virgin Charter, Johnny Walker and Diane Von Furstenberg

Adcision: If you could only have one advertiser on your site, which would it be?

Virgin Charter or any advertiser that represents a lifestyle filled with fun … a product that represents the exciting side of luxury.

Adcision: Give me an example of something your readers discovered on your site that they probably wouldn’t have known about otherwise.

I often give examples of motivation that you won’t find anywhere else … fitness isn’t about living at the gym, it’s about living at your peak, no matter what stands in your way. It’s about obeying the alarm clock, peeling yourself out of bed, and finding that extra hour most people think they’ll never have. I show you how other successful people do that, and I do it without preaching.

Adcision: Please describe a typical visitor to your site — what he/she is like, what motivates them to visit, what engages them while they are there.

I stated this above, but it most accurately describes my reader: , LIFT readers have reached a time in their lives when they have the means, passion, health, and experience to enjoy what life has to offer. They love challenges, appreciate quality, and pursue excellence.

Adcision: Does your site have any unique features that you’re proud of?

Well, LIFT TV is coming soon. But other than that, the content is what I’m most proud of.

Adcision: What do you wish more people knew about your “publication”?

That it’s not only interesting but it’s funny. I try to write with a sense of humor.

Adcision: Have you heard of any interesting transactions that have occurred as a result of your site?

A number of my readers actually purchase items that I post about. I’m always surprised to hear that someone has bought something and mainly because of the way that I wrote about it. – This shows me the power of the written word and reminds me of the pressure to be as accurate as I can when writing about something I like.

Adcision: Can you namedrop… any well-known persons engaged with your site?

Specifically I know of a few celebrities who have visited my site and I know that a number of other popular sites, constantly contact me for design advice.

In regard to celebrities, often the ones that I interview write to me stating that they enjoying reading my site … I hope that they continue to come back.

Adcision: What is the best source of traffic to your website?

Referral links. Other sites who link to my posts. Women’s Health Magazine, REAL SIMPLE Magazine, ASKMEN.com and Kineda all have LIFT Magazine listed in their “Blogs we love” section. I always receive a lot of traffic from them.

Adcision: How do you get your content?

Research, research, research! And, now that I’ve grown, I’ve actually started to create original content by interviewing people that my readers are interested in.

Adcision: What’s the best article (or feature) that you have ever run on your site … and why do you think it was so popular (Please include a URL if possible)?

My most popular articles are articles about products.
http://www.lift-magazine.com/journal/airboard-freeride-180-forget-what-you-thought-you-knew-about.html
and
http://www.lift-magazine.com/journal/fitflops-can-a-shoe-tone-your-butt.html

I believe it’s because people are looking for honest answers about products before they decide to purchase or not.

Adcision: Please share some demographic information about your audience (i.e. average home value, average HHI, male/female ratio, etc.)

50/50 Male to Female … infact, Male readers have increased by 20 percent over the last year. In a survey that I once ran, the average reader was high income of $75,000 plus.

Adcision: What is the most vexing issue facing your business right now?

Trying to figure out how to integrate video into my format and expanding my network … I’m in the process of starting another upscale blog called CANVAS … it will be a daily look at modern beauty (i.e. plastic surgery and beauty).

Adcision: Other than your own, what are some favorite luxury oriented sites you like?
Justluxe.com
Portfolio.com
LuxuryCulture.com

Adcision: What is your definition of luxury?

It’s a lifestyle choice, something that is an indulgence rather than a necessity … something that is hard to obtain, but worth the effort.

Adcision: Where do you see the industry headed?

No matter how the economy turns, there will always be a high-class market. It’s about BRANDING.

Adcision: What are your goals for 2008?

To expand my brand and my network … to continue to provide interesting subject matter to an audience who is looking for it.



Findability is Luxury
September 3, 2008, 1:48 pm
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By Adam Broitman, Director of Emerging and Creative Strategy, Morpheus Media

There is no doubt that over the past 10 years the world of media has gotten a facelift. The question I have been asking myself is–while the world of media was changing–did the definition of luxury change?

The definition of luxury has always been centered on certain core attributes–elegance, refinement, indulgence, comfort, service, quality and extravagance (to name just a few). Technology may have changed the way that certain luxuries are experienced but there is no substitution for the aforementioned qualities. In a phrase; luxury is timeless.

Given that the core attributes of luxury are timeless it is imperative that brand marketers keep up with the changing media landscape in order to present their brands in a way that highlights these attributes; the alternative is the decimation of a brand’s image and the relegation of products associated with these brands to becoming toys of the hoi polloi.

Many luxury retailers are doing a good job of replicating in store experience in the online space. On the flip side, a disturbingly large percent of luxury brands are doing an inadequate job of replicating their luxury image online. The disconnect lies in the fact that many luxury brand marketers simply don’t understand what luxury means in an interactive world. Some brand marketers do well with the surface level presentation of their brand online but completely gloss over the idea that the medium is the message. If online communications are treated like a digital magazine, a brand message can be completely distorted.

Let’s step away from the notion of luxury for a moment and think about how people access and find information online. According to the research center at the Pew Internet and American Life project, search engine usage has become the second most prevalent activity online (second only to email). 49% of internet users interact with a search engine on a daily basis (this is up from about 33% of internet users in 2002). It should come as no surprise that in an age where “google” is used as a verb, searching is the second most important online activity. What may come as a surprise to some is that higher income households are more likely to use a search engine on a given day. 62% of Internet users with a HHI $75k+ (this highest HHI bracket in this study) interact with search engines on a typical day. In light of this information brand managers that are not paying close attention to how their brand is found online have some catching up to do.

If you do a search for “Prada” on Google, the first natural ranking is from Prada. While I have a lot to say about how Prada’s site is optimized for search on the term “Prada”, I will save that for another time (or you can download the presentation I gave at the Luxury Interactive conference this year where I explore this topic further). If you do another, more focused search for “Prada sunglasses” you get the following results:

Natural Search Result Number One

Paid Search Result Number One (paid search varies)

According to a study done by iProspect 68% of searchers will click on a result on the first page. Prada is nowhere to be found on the first page of results for the term “Prada sunglasses”. Furthermore, 39% of search users equate a company’s prominence with their position in a search engine. The sites that show up on SERP’s (search engine results pages) for the term “prada sunglasses” are not reflective of the way that most people think of the brand, and I imagine brand managers at Prada would not be happy with some of the associations that are being made through the sites found in these search results.

The new media landscape is more complex than ever before. In an era where you are how you are found, luxury brand marketers really need to take stock of how their brand is being presented to consumers. While search engine marketing may not seem like the most luxurious practice, one things is certain—findability is luxury.



Publisher Spotlight: Spire
September 3, 2008, 1:35 pm
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Each month we will be featuring luxury consumer websites, ad agencies, marketing firms and the people behind their success. This month we interviewed Janet Kraus and Suzanne Aaronson, Co-founders of Spire.
By Hibben Silvo, Editor

Trust is the most crucial part of any relationship, and Spire is built on just that.  Whether you’re renovating your bathroom, planning a safari or simply want to purchase an elegant wedding gift you can rest assured that the tips and suggestions on Spire will lead you to nothing short of the best.  The site’s ‘about us’ section describes them as “the leading social resource for affluent people.”  With a long history of good taste and an insistence for quality, the co-founders, Janet Kraus and Suzanne Aaronson, search the world for high-end goods and services for their members to reference.
Janet and Suzanne took some time away from their quest for the best to answer some questions about their site and how they perceive luxury. Check out the interview below:

Co-Founders:

Janet Kraus (left): As CEO, Janet drives Spire’s vision and culture. She came to Spire by way of Circles (the leading provider of concierge services), the company she co-founded with Kathy Sherbrooke and recently sold to Sodexho Alliance. While at Circles, Janet oversaw the company’s growth strategy, including the creation and ultimate spin-off of Spire as a stand-alone company and simultaneous purchase of Suzanne’s Files.

Suzanne Aaronson (right): As Curator, Suzanne leads Spire’s editorial team and countless unpaid international contributors in skimming the world for quality lifestyle finds. Suzanne’s passion for “finding the best and leaving the rest” began in her early twenties. Over the years, tips from savvy friends and notes from international hotspots grew into a prolific, in-demand knowledge base and eventually evolved into Suzanne’s Files, a successful business with an impressive international following.

Adcision: Why did you launch spire.com and what need has it fulfilled?

Suzanne: We felt that the highly affluent who are time starved and deeply value in-the-know insight were not being well served in the lifestyle arena.  Although there are some one-way static print resources, before we started there were not any on-line resources that combined highly vetted and culled recommendations with the social elements that make the web so powerful – people tapping into people.  There was no resource like this that could be tapped anytime/ anywhere.

Janet: Also, it was clear that while many premium and luxury brands were beginning to realize that their customers were on-line; very few had really made the big leap into the world of online marketing beyond search.  We felt that we could create an online media property where premium and luxury brands could really feel safe testing and learning with real customer engagement.  Although there has been a lot of talk about this, we believe the techniques for doing this are in the infancy and there is so much more room to help brands really connect with their customers – current and future.

Adcision: Which three brands are you the most proud to have run on your site?

Janet: We are really very new – our new site has been live since June – and frankly we are very excited by the breadth, quality and variation in size of the partners we have engaged with – from Ritz Carlton Club, Amex and Forbes, to the Adventure Collection and Luggage Forward, to Mutual Art, Black Tomato and Vivre, we are excited by all of them because part of our value proposition is that we can help drive engagement for premium, upscale companies of any size.

Adcision: Give me an example of something your readers discovered on your site that they probably wouldn’t have known about otherwise.

Suzanne: Every day consumers will discover something new on Spire to resonates with their passions or answer a burning question.

From a perfect day in Mallorca, a perennial summer hot spot and the largest of Spain’s Balearic Islands … to the world’s best Hot Air Ballooning outfitters and experience.  From the world-leading kids’ museums- wonderlands for art, innovation, adventure and imagination to choice custom home wine cellar designers for the connoisseur wine collector.  And from eco-intelligent appliances for home and garden to a 5-Star hotel with an innovative holistic wellness center for those with chronic back pain in Aspen.

Adcision: Please describe a typical visitor to your site — what he/she is like, what motivates them to visit, what engages them while they are there.

Suzanne: Spire.com subscribers & members have one thing in common across their ages, sexes and nationalities:  They care about what is high quality and unique.

Whether a 32 year old professional on the rise, a 38 year old stay-at-home mother with two children, or a 52 year old hedge fund manager – every one of our customers seeks “the best” and has his or her own definition of “best.”  Every loyal customer of Spire is seeking a shortcut to quality information.  Everyone wants the inside scoop.  Everyone wants the information that a friend — who went there, did that or researched that — has to offer.  The Spire customer most values opinion and recommendations from those s/he can relate to.  People like them.  The Spire customer DOES NOT want to spend endless hours figuring it out him- or herself.

Our customer is uniquely engaged on Spire.com with both the in-the-know InsightTM provided from other members AND the vetted, authoritative pithy files that we curate.

Adcision: Does your site have any unique features that you’re proud of?

Suzanne:
We are proud of the way that we blend vetted lifestyle content (our Files) with members’ perspectives. This “blended approach” is simple and authentic in its concept as it   mimics the everyday behavior that the “Cultivated Consumer”  – someone who both “researches” for third parties AND relies on the insights of people they trust.


Adcision: What do you wish more people knew about Spire.com?

Suzanne: The more active target audience members, the more useful Spire.com becomes!  If a member invites his/ her friends and they do the same, and those friends do the same and so on and so on … you trigger the “network effect” and tap your 6 degrees of separation.  Once this starts to happen, you truly are able to “get to’ any piece of info that will help you to live life well.

Suzanne’s Files are highly differentiated from any other lifestyle content available in the published world.  They are 15+ years of collecting tid bits and discerning people’s insights to present this basket of only the great stuff – leaving out the rest, that is the noise . . . and even telling you the little things – good and bad that help you to make the final decision.

Adcision: Can you namedrop… any well-known persons engaged with your site?

Suzanne: We value the privacy of our members but feel comfortable saying that there are several business “celebs” who are members of Spire.com – real leaders in their sectors, be it Finance, Fashion, Arts, Design.  They value that they can be anonymous and yet tap “people like them”.

Adcision: How do you get your content?

Suzanne: I tap my own personal experience, trusted worldly friends and increasingly our growing “International Collective” of professional experts and insiders (all unpaid “passionistas”) who provide personal feedback/insights as well commentary and ideas for future Suzanne’s Files. Our contributors live & travel in various small and large markets keep us abreast on their finds, opinions and feedback of companies, products & services we cover for SFiles

Adcision: Please share some demographic information about your audience (i.e. average home value, average HHI, male/female ratio, etc.)

Spire:
•    Age:  early 40s
•    Income: of 60% $200k+, 27% over $400k
•    Assets of $1 million+
•    Degree Educated
•    55%/45% — Female/Male Ratio

Adcision: What is your definition of luxury?

Suzanne: Luxury is an over-used, over-hyped, all-over-the-map word — what is Luxury anymore and to whom? Logically the word means different things to different people, at various life stages.
Personally, I find it a silly word now – but it used to mean so much, and sound so good. So, it begs the question: What is Luxury to you? I can tell you what it means to me — and many YAWNS* out there, (Young & Wealthy But Normal) (source: Robert Frank, WSJ Wealth Reporter/ Richistan Author) “Luxury” is truly high quality, craftmanship and/or artisanal, simple beauty, those things that I don’t get or have daily…it is an experience I remember with color, a way my body felt or reacted to a physical challenge or a new depth of relaxation; it’s the freshest of air, and the most perfect summer peach or bright winter sun in a snowy place. A child falling asleep on you is a Luxury, to me. YAWNs are down-to-earth, have integrity; they are less interested in the what and more in the how and why. Read the rest of this entry



A Couple of Chicks e-Marketing Brings a Fresh Approach to Marketing Online to the Caribbean Tourism Community September 17 – 19, 2008 in Puerto Rico
September 3, 2008, 1:17 pm
Filed under: Luxury Events | Tags:

by Sandie Currie, Manager, Media Relations and Communications, Online Revealed

A Couple of Chicks e-Marketing  brings its unique concept of educating hospitality professionals to market tourism online to the Caribbean tourism and travel industry this Fall, 2008.

Tourism marketers must now more than ever rely on the Internet to reach their consumers.  Even in tougher economic times, there continues to be rapid growth in consumers researching and buying travel online.

Attendees of the first ever Online Revealed Caribbean Conference will hear straight talk about how to reach customers directly through tactics like Search Engine Optimization, Paid Search Advertising, Online PR, Social Media Marketing and more in a fun, interactive and non- intimidating environment.

“With three successful Online Revealed Conferences in Canada behind us, we saw the potential to reach out to the Caribbean tourism community with a similar format for learning best practices in marketing to a worldwide audience online,” says Patricia Brusha, Co-Founder of A Couple of Chicks, and Online Revealed.  “Online Revealed focuses on real case studies and practical application workshops to teach attendees how to set up campaigns online, how to measure success and return on investment and how to determine your mix of online and offline marketing dollars,” states Patricia Brusha, Co-Founder of A Couple of Chicks and Online Revealed.

A talented group of industry experts have been retained to present keynote presentations, lead workshops and participate in lively panel discussions. Cal Simmons, The Luxury Letter publisher, will be among the panellists presenting at the conference. Other prominent speakers include Richard Kunz, Principal Consultant, T4G Limited, Paolo Boni, President and CEO VFM Interactive and Ed Radonic, Managing Partner, radonicrodgers design+marketing, all who will deliver keynote addresses.

Representatives from A Couple of Chicks e-Marketing, Expedia, Travelzoo,  Marketwire, Poweri, WorldHotels, and Idea Market will share their expertise on topics from how to work effectively with OTAs to online PR initiatives, from website effectiveness and analysis to social media.

150 Caribbean travel industry professionals from Destination Marketing organizations, Tourism Operators, Hoteliers, Attractions, Media and Marketing Agencies, Programmers, Designers and Tourism Suppliers are expected to attend. A highlight of the conference is the B2B Marketplace where attending companies can register for a one on one private consultation with industry experts on the topic of their choice as it relates to website effectiveness and online marketing strategies.

Caribbean travel industry professionals can register for the two day one of a kind opportunity at http://www.onlinerevealed.com  and take advantage of the early bird registration fee of only $299.

Online Revealed is produced by A Couple of Chicks e-Marketing, one of Canada’s most successful online marketing firms for the tourism and travel industry. Learn more about the “chicks” at www.acoupleof chicks.com or contact Co-Founders Patricia Brusha at pbrusha@acoupleofchicks.com or Alicia Whalen at awhalen@acoupleofchicks.com to discover how to maximize your online marketing dollars to increase your online revenues and profile on the world wide web.