Luxury Brand Call Centers - Disappointing Experience

Let's face it - our time is precious. Spending 15 minutes waiting to talk to a brand rep is simply no longer acceptable. Neither is getting an half-ass answer from an inexperienced customer service rep who has clearly never used the product. Expectations have changed and we now want to be able to send out a tweet and get a reply from a luxury brand within the hour.

As part of an extensive luxury research conducted for one of our clients, we undertook the task of evaluating the customer service of 30 luxury brands in the same industry. For the sake of our client, we must keep this industry a secret since they will soon launch their product line. We spent a week contacting these luxury brands through all available channels - call center, online chat, email and social media. This is what we found.

The majority of the luxury call centers we contacted offered sub-level customer service. For luxury brands that promises a luxury shopping experience to their patrons, this is simply unacceptable. When you are willing to spend $500 for a product branded as luxury instead of $10 on a non-branded product, you should get the customer service of a lifetime. Unfortunately, waiting times were long, answers vague and when we were promised a call back, the call often never came. We were left hanging with no solution to our product.

When we sent out emails, the outcome was similar - the average response time was about a week (when we did get a reply), and once again, the answers were disappointing. So we tried sending out tweets from a fake user account hoping to get something back, and again, not much success.

If you don't have the resources to provide a great call center experience, email support, online chat and social media care, don't promise it to your fans. Instead, pick  2-3 social media channels and make sure to be available to answer all queries in a timely matter. Publish your opening hours and expected waiting time so that your fans know exactly what to expect. Even if you don't reply to my question  in the first few hours, at least I don't have to  waste my time waiting in line.

Luxury is more than a promise therefore luxury should deliver a customer service experience to remember.


Intriguing Facts about 7 of the Top Billionaire Cities

This year’s Wealth-X and UBS Billionaire Census provides an interesting overview and analysis of the world’s billionaire population. This is a selection of some of those facts pertaining to 7 of the top billionaire cities, with a focus on factors that are pertinent to marketing in the luxury market.

1. Dubai
The vast majority of the billionaires in Dubai (91%) have made all, or most, of their wealth. 68% are philanthropists. Interestingly, approximately 1 in 5 billionaires here have a specific interest in private jets.

2. Riyadh
10% of the billionaires in Riyadh are female. 95% of all billionaires here are active philanthropists, with interests primarily in education and humanitarian causes. 70% are interested in sport, especially soccer.

3. São Paulo
It is worth noting that 25% of the billionaires in São Paulo are female. Whilst 89% of the billionaires in this city are philanthropists, 19% are interested in art.

4. Mexico City
This city accounts for more than 75% of Mexico’s billionaire population. Two thirds of the billionaires here have donated to the country’s social causes. An interesting statistic is the fact that 43% of the billionaires here are interested in art.

5. Cairo
Every billionaire in Egypt is based in Cairo. All of them were born in Egypt and all of them are married. Most are philanthropists, preferring to be active through private foundations. 38% of Cairo’s billionaires are interested in soccer.

6. Lagos
The billionaires in Lagos are all Nigerian-born and, together, represent 25% of Africa’s billionaires. All of their primary businesses are privately owned, the top industry being oil, gas and consumable fuels. More than 60% of the billionaires are philanthropists, contributing to education, health and social issues in Nigeria. Half of the billionaires in Lagos are interested in private aviation.

7. Sydney
Only one of the billionaires in Sydney has fully inherited his wealth. All of the billionaires here are male. Most of the billionaires in Sydney are philanthropists, with a particular focus on health-related causes. 36% of all Sydney-based billionaires are interested in boating.


Five Different Types of Luxury Brands

As a general rule, most high-end brands can be divided into five types of luxury brands depending on the products they offer.

• Prestige Brands:

Prestige brands offer the highest level of creativity and craftsmanship. They command loyal following and because of their history and rich heritage, they are established status symbols. They do not follow fluctuating market trends. A few prestige brands that quickly come to mind are Aston Martin (car), Feadship (superyacht) and Jaeger LeCoultre (watch).

• Masstige Brands:

Masstige refers to prestige for the masses and is often associated with ownership of certain brand name products at a fraction of the cost. This category is often referred to as New Luxury or Mass Luxury and amplified the democratization of luxury goods. Typical masstige brands include Lancôme, Apple and Godiva. The masstige strategy is also often applied by prestige brands looking to trade-down to increase sales volumes. Think of Chanel's cosmetic division or BMW's affordable models.

• Premium Brands:

The difference between prestige brand and premium brand is simply a matter of degree, one that is often blurry. An example would be Rolex when compared with Patek Philippe, Piaget or Vacheron Constantin.

• Boutique Brands:

A boutique luxury brand is one that, in my opinion, gives honor to the true definition of luxury. Think of Calzature Marini, which has been creating bespoke shoes for men in Rome since1899 or of Norton & Sons, a Saville Row tailor with roots dating back to 1821. The new artisans of today who produce luxurious products by hand should also be included in this category even if they lack the heritage and pedigree of established boutique brands.

• Fashion Brands:

Fashion brands are the common trend-setters addressing the needs of the masses whether they are of high-quality or not. Fashion brands create fads with their collections and seasons while luxury brands create products that are often considered timeless.

The main point to note in understanding what constitutes a luxury brand is to understand the nature of the people who buy these brands and their buying behavior. There are a number of reasons why affluents and HNWI buy products from luxury brands such as the need to get access to exclusive, high-quality, innovative, ultra-stylish products that display exceptional craftsmanship. But among all, consumers buy luxury products because it strikes a chord in them, showcases their identity, makes them feel a desirable emotion and answers a need for recognition, peer-approval and status.


The Definition of Luxury

The definition of luxury must reflect the multi-dimensional aspect of the word as it varies from person to person, product to product and culture to culture.  Traditionally, luxury was defined as “something coveted by most but only attainable by a few”. It speaks of privilege, pedigree, paucity & pricing, but I now find this definition to be somewhat outdated. With years spent traveling the world while working alongside our world’s financial elite, I find myself in search of a more compelling definition.


When putting in review the lives of these UHNWI, I can assert that luxury is rarely define as something to purchase as a stand-alone product. For some, luxury was having the freedom to live aboard their superyacht, working remotely as they traveled the world. Luxury was also gathering all family members for a short week-long charter, something that seemed impossible to do. For others, luxury was about being able to afford the best medical doctor to try to beat a deadly disease or to prolong a comfortable lifestyle in order to spend quality time with loved ones. One thing was common to all – luxury was not about acquiring things, but about acquiring experiences.


When I compare these luxuries to mine, someone who is far from being a billionaire, I see many commonalities. I too seek the freedom to travel the world while growing my brand remotely, and I too seek to gather my immediate family for a short week-long jaunt, a task that seems doomed to fail every year. After spending years caring for a father with heart issues, I too believe that medicine is a luxury that is beyond price. Luckily, I am Canadian, and my father was given a new heart from an extremely generous young man who was not so lucky. His gift was the ultimate luxury – the luxury of a second chance at life. Please allow me to take a moment to give my thanks to this anonymous donor and his family before I continue. Thank you!


Same as those of a billionaire, my luxuries are about acquiring life experiences not buying things. Living aboard a superyacht worth 220 million Euros or a 40′ bare catamaran with no electricity or fresh water shower is practically the same thing. If you love life at sea, the boat is secondary to the lifestyle. I have experienced both, and wouldn’t know wish one to choose if I had to make a choice.


Luxury is in the eyes of the beholder. The definition of luxury should therefore be one of “experience or  lifestyle that is above all else”. If you are a brand that seeks to market yourself to an elite audience in search of the finer things in life, you need to provide an experience beyond the product in order to be considered “luxury”.

Jeffrey Gomez Founder & Editor in Chief of The Snob Magazine

Luxury Spotlight: Jeffrey Gomez, Founder & Editor-in-Chief of The Snob Magazine

The founder and visionary behind The Snob Magazine, Jeffrey Gomez is an expert on the exclusive nature of all things luxury. Starting out as a writer for Source Interlink Media and their automotive titles in his college days, he turned to the world of wealth and attained the position of a lead investment broker at a Beverly Hills hedge fund.

But the lure of the world of luxury made him take another turn in his career. Determined to wipe away the inane concept of ’mass luxury’, he started The Snob Magazine – ”a luxury lifestyle publication that provides readers with a highlight of the very best luxuries from around the world”.





Every expert has a different story on how they got started blogging. What is yours?

I started The Snob Magazine after I left a great career as an investment broker. Having dealt with the super rich for work, I knew the arena and players well. Creating The Snob around that audience was the natural progression.


Like most luxury experts, you probably receive hundreds of emails per month from luxury brands who want you to share their story. What makes you decide to work with a brand over the other?

I look for a rich history of a brand. I am particularly interested in the quality of their products and/or services. Too many brands are stuffed full of marketing, but what it really comes down to is service and quality.


What is the best pitch you have received from a luxury brand? What is the worst?

The best pitches tell me a story and sell me on why I should pay attention. Set me up with a scenario and lay out for me what is important. The worst pitches are all hype and are quickly deleted. I need substance, not marketing and gimmicks.


Jeffrey Gomez Founder & Editor in Chief of The Snob Magazine 1

What is your take on press releases? Do you like receiving them or do you simply discard them?

I hate press releases. I understand that it is an efficient way to get information out, but I don't believe that it does much good for magazines or other publications. Sure TV and newspapers can use the information from a press release to write up a quick snippet, but marketing and publicity needs to be more delicate and specific for outlets if you want to have any real and meaningful coverage.


What would make you choose to work with a brand on a giveaway campaign on your site?

I would want cross promotion and marketing. We can get your brand in front of a large and well-heeled audience, but we need help in return. Too often brands ask for something and give nothing in return. It is a two way street and brands need to follow up with their business if we send them customers. Dropping the ball will make us all look bad.


If a brand wants to reach you, what channel should they use? Do you prefer email, social media or another means of communication?

Email is the best way to reach our magazine. Social media works sometimes, but it is too familiar and relaxed. This is a business after all.

The Snob Magazine online



What is the coolest gift you have received from a luxury brand in an outreach program?

I get endless gifts, thankfully! From watches to private jets.


Of all the social media channels you engage on, which one do you prefer and why?

I prefer Instagram. I think people want to see splashy images. The ability to comment is also appealing to the public. Having direct commentary to a taste maker makes consumers feel empowered and listened to.


Which social media channels does your audience interact with the most?

I think it is a toss between Instagram and Twitter.


In your opinion, what does it take to become successful on social media?

Presence and persistence. You can't blog off and on and you can't not answer questions or reply late. We live in an instant gratification era and anything other than timely will lose.


Do you monitor your Klout score on a daily/weekly basis? Do you think this social ranking is of any real value to luxury brands?

Social ranking, etc is all bogus. Just take one look at and you will see that anything can be bought. Marketing and PR people need to focus on the publication and their audience and partnerships with other brands. Everything else is irrelevant.


Do you sometime receive compensation from luxury brands, whether it's in the form of cash or incentives, to write about them?


Jeffrey Gomez Founder & Editor in Chief of The Snob Magazine 2



Apart from your managing your magazine, do you offer additional services to luxury brands who choose to work with you?

Definitely. It just comes with having a very wealthy audience. We do everything from private dinners to events, experiences with companies for our audience.


Have you rubbed shoulders with the rich and famous through your work as a luxury expert?

Living in Los Angeles, I interact heavily with the movers and shakers of entertainment and politics. A great number of our readers are very famous, but naming names is so passé. Rest assured though, we get emails all the time asking for specific help from some very important people.


If you had to mentor a new writer, what is your go-to advice to become successful?

Work, work and work. Keep your nose down and write. Everything else will fall into place. Content is KING!


Get in touch with Jeffrey Gomez vi email. Or, connect with him on Facebook or Twitter. Or, reach out to us for an introduction.

MY Anna

Who is Your “Typical” Billionaire?

The latest statistics from the Wealth-X and UBS Billionaire Census paint an interesting portrait of the current ‘typical’ billionaire. Marketing strategies for luxury brands need to be constantly tweaked and adjusted in order to be representative of these ultra high net worth (UHNW) individuals. So just who is this billionaire to represent all billionaires?

The typical billionaire is 63 years of age and has a net worth of approximately US$3.1 billion. He would have waited until his late forties before he reached the US$1 billion benchmark and was officially considered a member of this exclusive club.

His wealth is distributed as follows:
• 46.9% private holdings
• 28.9% public holdings
• 19.1% cash
• 5.1% real estate and luxury assets

So what does this mean?
• 46.9% private holdings versus 28.9% public holdings
This shows that the majority of the billionaire’s wealth is concerned with his ownership of privately held businesses, rather than publicly held wealth. This indicates that he is confident in the performance of his businesses, exerting a high degree of control over those in which he is heavily involved.

• 19.1% cash
Approximately one fifth of his wealth is cash from previous salaries and investments. He has reinvested most of this in highly liquid, diversified securities. This enables him to invest in new business ventures and opportunities.

• 5.1% real estate and luxury assets
The ‘typical’ billionaire owns four properties. Each of these is worth, on average, US$23.5 million. His global lifestyle necessitates him having several homes around the world. Other luxury assets that accompany the billionaire lifestyle could include a number of things, such as: sports teams, racehorses, yachts, planes, cars and art.


5 Things to Know about Today’s Billionaires

This year’s Wealth-X and UBS Billionaire Census has raised several significant factors that are pertinent to marketing to ultra high net worth (UHNW) individuals. Luxury brands would do well to take cognizance of these facts as they have an important influence on current and future luxury market trends, amongst other things. So here are 5 Things to Know about Today’s Billionaires:

1. When it comes to billionaires, it is cities that count, rather than countries.
Billionaires are transnational and move from city to city, rather than country to country. This is of particular importance in emerging markets such as Africa and the Middle East. In addition, cities such as London that have a high density of foreign billionaires are becoming increasingly popular.

2. Becoming a billionaire requires entrepreneurialism and private wealth.
This trend is true for both male and female billionaires. More and more billionaires are those who inherited only part of their wealth and then through entrepreneurism became billionaires. Almost two-thirds of billionaires’ primary companies are privately held.

3. This past year, billionaire wealth was volatile and under-performed global equity markets.
Although 500 billionaires were added to this year’s census, the net gain was only 155 billionaires. Many increased their liquidity holdings, waiting for the best time to make further investments. The billionaires who performed best in emerging markets outside Asia were those with diversified portfolios and international investments.

4. US$10 billion is the new wealth ‘ceiling’.
The vast majority of the world’s billionaires are worth between US$1- and US$10 million. Older billionaires, who are in the majority, are transitioning from wealth accumulation to wealth preservation.

5. The number of billionaires is increasingly globally due to wealth transfers to the next generation. 

Some billionaires are already passing on their wealth to the next generation, and this is expected to increase in the future. This increases the number of billionaires but not their total wealth.


What it Feels Like to be Voted as "Top 10 Best Luxury Travel Blogger"

It feels simply fantastic!

I have written it before, creating an engaging blog that people want to read takes a lot of passion and dedication. The first year in blogging is the hardest since everything seems to go in slow motion. You keep asking yourself "Why am I doing this again?" and everyone around you wonders the same. Then all of a sudden you notice your site traffic picking up and new fans following you on social media every day. This is when you remember why you blog - to share your expertise with those who seek it. You get excited, then at one point you start getting too many emails to keep up with, and this is when you get hooked by the fun of fit all.

Being nominated by a panel of industry experts as one of the Top 20 best luxury travel bloggers felt incredible, but being voted as one of the Top 10 best luxury travel bloggers by readers feels ever better.

I remember when I started, looking up at JustLuxe and Pursuitist, simply trying to determine the voice of our own blog. Their success seemed so out-of-reach, but I told myself "What do you have to lose if you try? If you know you can contribute to the industry in a new way, why not just take it one post at a time?"

At first, we mostly blogged about new luxury - product launches, new marketing campaign, but then we came into our own when we started focusing more and more on luxury travel. As someone who spends her life traveling the world, it simply made more sense. I have never bought a Louis Vuitton handbag, that is simply not my style, but I have been aboard superyachts, stayed at five-star hotels and eaten in some of the best restaurants in the world. I asked myself "If you were suddenly a billionaire, what would you do with the money?" The answer was simple - buy a luxury yacht and travel the world. To become successful at blogging, we needed to follow our passion with LuxeInACity, and our passion was luxury travel.

Obviously, Maxine and I couldn't have done this alone. A great thanks to all our writers and contributors who have shared inspiring stories with us for our readers. A special thanks to Mahasweta Bhattacharyya who has become the gate-keeper of LuxeInACity, the one who makes sure everything is just right.

If you are curious to know who else made the top 10 Best Luxury Travel Bloggers for 2014 list by popular vote, here they are:

1. Nicolle Monico of Just Luxe
2. Yasmin Pullman  of Luxury Travel Diary
3. Ana Silva O’Reilly of Mrs. O Around the World
4. Christopher Parr of Pursuitist
5. Roxanne Genier and Maxine Genier of LuxeInACity - yes that'is us!
6. Carol Perehudoff of Wandering Carol
7. Kim-Marie Evans of Luxury Travel Mom
8. Melanie Brandman of The Travel Curator
9. Brooke Saward of World of Wanderlust
10. Emily Stephens of The Luxe Travel

We also want to mention the other 10 amazing bloggers who were nominated in the Top 20 Best Luxury Travel Bloggers by the panel of experts. They are, in no particular order,

Nyssa Chopra  of The Cultureur
Ian Garstang of Luxury Travels
Keith Jenkins of  Velvet Escape
Dr. Paul Johnson of  A Luxury Travel Blog
Mark Jolly of globorati
Tom Muyllaert of Luxury Travel Butler
Amie O'Shaughnessy of Ciao Bambino!
Lesley Peterson of CultureTripper
Maria Russo  of The Culture-ist
Ava Stochinsky of Vagablond

Lastly, I would like to say "Thank You" to Judy Colbert (, Katie Dillon (La Jolla Mom), Jennifer Miner (The Vacation Gals), Elizabeth Thorp (Poshbrood) and Mary Ann Treger (USA Today contributor) who nominated us in the first place.

Affluent Insights 2014 Cover

Affluent Insights 2014: Where are Affluents?

For many luxury brands, Asia seems to be the next best destination. With its strong base of millionaires and nouveau riche, the luxury goods and services sector is sure to see a steady increase in demand in the coming years. Asia replaced North America as the region with the highest number of high net worth individuals in 2013.

Agility Research & Strategy’s Syndicated Study have been focusing on understanding this consumer base.  And the resultant - Affluent Insights 2014 – “aims to understand the consumption patterns, brand preferences and detailed insights of the Affluent Asian consumer”. Infographics that bring together a strategic picture on a week in the life of the affluent consumer from China, Hong Kong, Singapore, America, and Indonesia is sure to be a handy tool for a luxury brand.

Here is a look at the infographics and the details they present.


The majority of Chinese respondents are females (54%), aged 18-34 years (59%). They are likely to be married (85%) with children younger than 15 years (83%). They are usually employed in high-ranking positions such as Vice president, director, general manager, or department head (22%). 24% of them have investments between USD$ 0.5 million to USD$ 5 million. The different days detail the information channels they pay attention to for the top categories they spend in, as well as their favorite brands, shopping sites, and vacation spots.


Affluent Insights 2014 Affluent Consumer Journey China

Hong Kong

The majority of Hong Kong respondents are females (58%), aged 18-34 years (55%). They are likely to be married (62%) with children younger than 15 years (56%). They are professionals such as doctors, lawyers, or engineers (19%). 33% of them have investments between USD$ 0.5 million to USD$ 5 million. The different days detail the information channels they pay attention to for the top categories they spend in, as well as their favorite brands, shopping sites, and vacation spots.


Affluent Insights 2014 Affluent Consumer Journey Hong Kong


The majority of Singaporean respondents are males (56%), aged 18-34 years (43%). They are likely to be married (71%) with children younger than 15 years (55%). They are usually middle to high level managers in private or public companies (29%). 18% of them have investments between USD$ 0.5 million to USD$ 5 million. The different days detail the information channels they pay attention to for the top categories they spend in, as well as their favorite brands, shopping sites, and vacation spots.


Affluent Insights 2014 Affluent Consumer Journey Singapore


The majority of American respondents are males (51%), aged 18-34 years (41%). They are likely to be married (86%) with children younger than 15 years (43%). They are usually employed in C-Suite positions (19%). 24% of them have investments between USD$ 0.5 million to USD$ 5 million. The different days detail the information channels they pay attention to for the top categories they spend in, as well as their favorite brands, shopping sites, and vacation spots.


Affluent Insights 2014 Affluent Consumer Journey USA


The majority of Indonesian respondents are males (57%), aged 18-34 years (59%). They are likely to be married (74%) with children younger than 15 years (69%). They are usually business owners, partners, or entrepreneurs (22%). 16% of them have investments between USD$ 0.5 million to USD$ 5 million. The different days detail the information channels they pay attention to for the top categories they spend in, as well as their favorite brands, shopping sites, and vacation spots.

Affluent Insights 2014 Affluent Consumer Journey Indonesia



Naming a New Luxury Brand

One of the first things that comes to mind when creating a new luxury brand is "What's in the name?" Some brands opt to create a new word such as RueLaLa, use the founder's name such as Chanel or pick a combination of words that is SEO ready, such as Agence Luxury.

Since we are currently in the process of picking the name for a new luxury brand, we stumbled upon this great infographic and we simply wanted to share.




Naming a new luxury brand requires a lot of brainstorming sessions but one thing is for sure, it can not be taken lightly. The name is often the first impression, and often the last thing seen by a potential new client. If you want a few more heads to help you throughout your brainstorm sessions, give us a shout.