Since 1980, however, the number of families living in multi-generational households has steadily climbed, buoyed by a wave of immigration and delayed marriages. After the onset of the Great Recession, the number jumped even higher — rising 10.5 percent in a two-year period so that nearly 17 percent of Americans lived in multi-generational households by 2009, according to a report by the Pew Research Center.
Source: USA TODAY
Luxury retailers inhabit an elegantly lit world of richly paneled walls, sleek stone floors and plush goods. For them and their upscale customers, digital commerce is a foreign land, full of flashing offers prompting consumers to download a — gasp! — printable coupon.
Slowly, however, high-end merchants like Neiman Marcus and luxury brands like Burberry and Stella McCartney are adapting to the new virtual shopping scene, incorporating mobile apps, “augmented reality” and iPad link-ups that extend, rather than sully, the plush experience of their stores.
Last month Neiman-Marcus introduced a pilot program called NM Service, an app that lets shoppers know which of their favorite clerks are on the floor when they arrive. The app can also be used to make appointments remotely with salespeople or pick out the items that interest them before they get to the store.
Neiman’s new mobile strategy, which imitates a system long available at Apple stores, is being praised as a cutting-edge move for a luxury retailer into SoLoMo marketing — social, local and mobile. “The consumer these days is a moving target,” says Scott Forshay, strategist for mobile and emerging technologies for Acquity Group in Austin, Texas. “How do we engage them while they are out there in the world?”
It’s a difficult question for a sector that is used to making its sales by luring customers into its opulent, carefully controlled environments. Even as the rest of the public has shifted its buying online, high-end brands have been insulated from technology trends by their relatively older, late-adopting demographic.
But ignoring the tech revolution is a luxury, so to speak, upscale brands can no longer afford. A study conducted earlier this year by The Luxury Institute showed that 60% of high net worth individuals own smartphones, and of those, 67% used them to shop. 80% had downloaded an app.
And that’s just the Boomers, who make the bulk of expensive purchases today. The fastest growing segment of affluent shoppers are the group that marketers call the Millennials. Now in their early 20s, they are known for their desire to be digitally connected, a passion they expect their favorite brands to share.
As in other e-pursuits, from reading the news to playing Angry Birds, the app has become the primary conduit of sales. Another study, by the St. Louis digital marketing firm Moosylvania, showed that more than 20% of smartphone owners had downloaded at least 30 apps —more than half of them for free. “The number of free apps on people’s phones is an indicator that downloading them gets easier and more familiar every day,” says Moosylvania’s founder and CEO Norty Cohen.
The challenge is to reinterpret digital commerce for the luxury customer. The high-end home appliances manufacturer Jenn-Air has developed an app for the iPhone that lets consumers upload photos of their kitchens and replace their stoves and refrigerators with images of Jenn-Air products. Sotheby’s International Realty’s free app shows nearby restaurants, wineries, and other amenities with each property listing. “It’s about tying into the consumer’s lifestyle,” says Cohen.
The fit can be less than seamless. The token of virtual shopping today is the blotchy, black-and-white, scannable square called a QR code. It is useful for beaming information about products straight from an in-store display or magazine page to customers’ smartphone, but, Forshay notes, “QR codes were designed in Japanese automotive plants to keep track of parts. To translate that into luxury is a quantum leap.” Special offers and price breaks that lure mass consumers have little power over the wealthy.
Instead, say mobile-marketing experts, what affluent shoppers value most is access. In a pioneering 2010 campaign, Burberry handed customers iPads which they could use to watch video of exclusive fashion shows and, if they saw something they liked, order items straight off the catwalk.
The best luxury digital plays, in other words, may be the ones most people never hear about. Forshay imagines stores pinging loyal customers to invite them to private trunk shows or to meet their favorite label’s creative director. “You’re seducing people with product, but also experience,” he says. “You’re taking them on a journey.”
© 2012 CNBC.com
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IT’S the auction that sums up the collapse in US house prices in the wake of the subprime bubble bursting. A bankrupt real estate agent’s hilltop mansion, conceived during southern California’s property boom and once given an estimated value of $US87 million, is going up for auction after failing to sell for two years.
The unfinished Italianate villa on 5.1 hectares in Newport Beach comes with a man-made lake, horse stables, vineyard, tennis court, 17-car garage and views of the Pacific Ocean and Santa Ana Mountains. The home is being sold online at the request of debtors after an unsuccessful listing at $US37 million.
”At the time when money was in abundance, I can see the grand focus,” said Tom Iovenitti, executive vice-president of Auction.com. ”Unfortunately, this particular property was under construction when nobody could forecast the impact of the real estate downturn and what that would mean to building something of this magnitude.”
The Newport Beach estate is the priciest single-family home ever offered by Auction.com, which has sold ”several” properties with prices as high as $US10 million, Mr Iovenitti said. Other sellers of mansions at auction have been less successful. A Mercer Island, Washington, estate with a listed price of $US28.8 million failed to find a buyer in an August auction.
A March 25 open house at the Newport Beach estate attracted 600 people, including at least 20 ”serious” shoppers from as far away as Seattle.
Originally named Villa del Lago, the estate was conceived by John McMonigle, the No. 1 US sales agent for Coldwell Banker in 2004 and 2005, at a time when Orange County’s real estate market was fuelled by wealth from locally based – and now defunct – subprime lenders, including Ameriquest Mortgage and New Century Financial Corp.
Mr McMonigle attracted luxury buyers to his open houses by cross-marketing the properties with vendors for Rolls-Royce, NetJets and jeweller David Yurman.
He filed for bankruptcy protection last year, listing assets of $US1 million to $US10 million, and liabilities of $US10 million to $US50 million.
Home prices in the Los Angeles area, including Newport Beach, have fallen 41 per cent from their September 2006 peak after soaring 150 per cent in the previous six years, according to an SP/Case-Shiller index.
The estate’s buyer will need to spend at least $US5 million to finish construction of the 1644-square-metre main house, said Bill Cote, a broker with First Team Real Estate in Newport Beach, who specialises in luxury properties. ”If it sells for $US15 million, I’d be surprised,” Mr Cote, who has sold homes in the area for 30 years, said. ”You might have the biggest lot in Newport Beach, but so what?”
Mr McMonigle paid $US3.2 million for the land in 2003. Six years later, the property had an expected value of $US87 million, according to the Orange County Register, a local newspaper.
The estate was first placed on the multiple listing service in May 2010 for $US57 million. The asking price dropped to $US37 million in January 2011, after OneWest Bank FSB cut off construction funding and as Mr McMonigle tried to avoid bankruptcy.
For sale: One-bedroom flat in the 1970s Trellick Tower in Golborne Road, London W10
It’s certainly not for everyone, but if you love Erno Goldfinger’s brutalist dream, you can buy a one-bedroom flat in Trellick Tower in Golborne Road, London W10.
Still a talking point several decades after being built, Trellick Tower is here to stay after grade II-listing and after the ‘right to buy’, flats within do come up to buy now again.
This one is a third-floor flat/apartment and obviously one that has been renovated to a good standard. A look at the images available of the bedroom, large living area, kitchen, bathroom and balcony all look well-maintained and very modern, assisted by period features including the large windows.
If that finish and location appeal, £265,000 is the asking price.
Interested in retro, period and quirky houses? Check out our new WowHaus website