Looking In on The 10 Richest Streets in the World

I was once told that 40% of the world's real estate value was tied up in less than 1% of the actual land mass. I took today's "Wealth Report" and turned it into an interactive map so you could actually see where these streets are and get a sense of the actual topography. This mashup will let you zoom in on the cities, then switch from "Road" to "Aerial". Click on the balloons and you'll see sample real estate prices for that area. Seeing the data this way lets you marvel at the size of the swimming pools in Monaco...or gasp at the land values in Mumbai, India.

If you believe the comments, just missing the cut are places like Tuckers Town Road in Bermuda or Sandbanks in the city of Dorset, England.

With the changes in fuel prices, the world's value topography will be reshaped as it gets more expensive to move physical product. The value of these streets increases along with access to public transportation, availability of fine dining options, and of course, ready access to world shipping lanes. I'd expect real estate values near public transportation to go up by 2-3x, even as the overall real estate industry experiences the estimated $16 billion of deleveraging that has to take place, somehow.

Luxury 2.0 - How eBay Could Have Used OpenSocial To Save $61M


A French court on Monday ordered the online auction giant eBay to pay 38.6 million euros, or $61 million, in damages to the French luxury goods company LVMH, owner of the prestigious Louis Vuitton brand. LVMH estimated that 90% of the sales of Louis Vuitton goods on eBay were for fakes.

Fashionphile estimates that eBay was making $3.8 million in fees a year from the Louis Vuitton brand alone (see the Fashionphile analysis), not including other brands owned or managed by LV such as Christian Dior.

eBay's initial defense? It published guides (like this) that would help educate consumers on how to tell authentic Louis Vuitton goods from the knockoffs. That flimsy protection justified countless abuses like one-day auctions of LV goods; continuing to protect eBay sellers who had zero feedback but 50 listings for LVMH products; fake second chance offers; and worse yet, $75 bins for $1000 bags.

After the first cease-and-desist judgment, eBay appeared to clean up. My impression today is that the promise of eBay - "...to provide a global trading platform where practically anyone can trade practically anything" - is going to continue to lose ground so long as they rely on internal automation instead of vendor certification.

This is where I think applications like OpenSocial have tremendous promise. Instead of relying on internal authentication schemes, eBay should ask LVMH and other luxury brands to create and manage their own social networks. In this case, the Louis Vuitton social network would be composed solely of merchants specifically authorized to sell and resell Louis Vuitton goods. Building this network eliminates the argument that it would be "prohibitively expensive" for similar online marketplaces to comply with LVMH's requests...if you can handle simple constructs such as FOAF or OPML an online marketplace can determine if a retailer is legit.

3 Reasons Why Luxury Goods Will Ignore the Groundswell: Louis Vuitton Gets "Brandjacked"

Nadiaplesner_lv_knockoffThis morning Jeremiah Owyang twittered a story about Nadia Pleisner, a Danish artist who has been sued by Louis Vuitton Mallatier for brand jacking the flagship Murakami handbag on her t-shirt.

From having worked with Louis Vuitton and having blogged about them here and here and here, I think Louis Vuitton is going to pursue the case, and prevail.

The lawsuit has brought Nadia much publicity and much traffic to her website and Facebook page, which in a little over a week has amassed 2,260 fans. Compare this to Darfur advocate and NY Times columnist Nicholas Kristof, who has 4,311 fans after launching his Facebook page on March 13.

While her web page is pure commerce, she's using her Facebook page to state her arguments. First, Nadia argues that Louis Vuitton is trying to destroy her life. Second, she wonders why Louis Vuitton is going after a little charity and not all of the knockoffs in China. Thirdly, she claims that she never used the (Murakami) bag, but her image was "inspired by the bag". And, she argues that

"...When Aqua made the song Barbie Girl, Martell (note: I'm sure she means 'Mattel') lost their case. The reason? The reason being that Barbie has become an everyday word, used about more than just the dulls. Just like 'hand me a Kleenex'."

Unfortunately, Nadia has chosen the worst target. Of all of the luxury brands, Louis Vuitton has been one of the most aggressive at protecting its marks, having recently scored a victory against Google. After thinking about it, I think there are three reasons why Louis Vuitton -- and all luxury goods manufacturers -- will continue to fight against the groundswell specifically when it comes to brand hijacking:

  1. People have short attention spans. While Darfur is certainly a hot button today, it has taken only a couple of years  to forget the tsunami in Southeast Asia, the enormous earthquake that levelled Bam, or when Hurricane Beta devastated Honduras. Besides, the people that joined Nadia's Facebook page were probably not core Louis Vuitton customers.
  2. It's critical to establish precedent. In every case, Louis Vuitton is providing the opportunity to cease and desist quietly. Most of the time people avoid litigation. But when someone chooses to take a stand, that's when Louis Vuitton truly swings into action. Every Louis Vuitton victory - whether with a knockoff merchant, a Canal Street landlord, or giants like Google - clearly establishes what is fair and what is not fair. (A hint to Nadia: an apology goes a long way.)
  3. Don't invite future extortion. From my perspective, to walk away is to invite more sophisticated approaches to brand hijacking. The music industry mostly ignored illegal copying for years. When there was a critical mass of illegal copies it paved the way for Napster and Kazaa. When I hear some of the suggestions - like creating events or trying to educate people - it sounds like a blueprint for extorting free marketing funds.

While visiting San Francisco in 2005 I had an opportunity to meet DJ Danger Mouse (a.k.a. Brian Burton) a few months after he released his infamous Grey album, a mashup of Jay-Z's The Black Album and the Beatles' White Album. When asked about the labels' reaction, he was very subdued and clearly didn't want to talk about it. But guess what? Years later, Brian released a new album under a different pseudonym, Gnarls Barkley, and scored big with the single "Crazy".

So Nadia, even if Louis Vuitton should happen to prevail, it won't be the end of the world.

Not even close.

The Secret Language of Color: In 2008, It's Blue Iris

BlueirisAs marketers delve deeper into experiential marketing, they discover the importance of subtle nuances. Much of this blog is about my work in finding ways of reliably expressing those nuances using technology. For example, color is an inescapable part of any experience, quietly but inexorably embracing us with subtle visual cues that influence the way we interpret life.

Pantone just announced Blue Iris (#2B167B, Pantone 18-3493) as their color of the year 2008 (see coverage of previous years here). From their press release:

"Pantone, Inc., the global authority on color and provider of professional color standards for the design industries, selected PANTONE 18-3493 Blue Iris, a beautifully balanced blue-purple, as the color of the year for 2008. Combining the stable and calming aspects of blue with the mystical and spiritual qualities of purple, Blue Iris satisfies the need for reassurance in a complex world, while adding a hint of mystery and excitement."

The Most Outrageous Guest Requests

ThejeffersonForbes Traveler has done an interesting piece on the most outrageous customer service stories. One story recounts how a guest at the Jefferson (pictured, right) requested a grand piano, a pianist and two carolers in his suite on Christmas Eve. The door to the suite was too small, so the piano had to be taken apart, and reassembled inside the room. But, the Jefferson staff prevailed, and delivered a truly outstanding experience.

Just as the concept of "celebrity chefs" like Michelin star winner Gordon Ramsay have reinvented the fine dining experience by describing the compelling backstory behind top restaurants, hotel concierges and other customer service superstars are starting to gain notoriety. In particular, Danny Meyer, founder of the Union Square Cafe, shares some of his customer service philosophies in his new book, "Setting The Table: The Transforming Power of Hospitality in Business".

2006 Fall Color Trends

Db_aloft Following up on last year’s list of colors, in 2006 Pantone's survey of tastemakers finds more neutral colors, perhaps reflecting new uses of color in public spaces such as upscale hotels like Aloft or NYLO Hotels, who have begun hiring superstar design talent like David Rockwell (whose portfolio includes the Chambers Hotel New York, Nobu, and Gordon Ramsay's Maze) and Stephane Dupoux (creator of bars including New York's Cielo, London's Cocoon, and Miami's Champagne Lounge) to help them build new experiences.

"Fall 2006 is a time to transition back to more dependable color," says Leatrice Eiseman, Executive Director of the Pantone Color Institute.® "We're looking for colors we can wrap ourselves in - a feeling achieved through classic neutrals as a base, accented with rich hues. Half of the palette, remarkably, is expressed is basic chestnuts - all very familiar, very approachable tones. It's an inviting warmth not seen in the past few seasons that designers are now embracing."

Each season, Pantone surveys designers showing at New York Fashion Week and collects feedback on prominent collection colors, color inspiration, color philosophy and each designer's signature shades. This information is used to create the PANTONE Fashion Color Report. The top ten - and each color's hexadecimal value and Pantone number are as follows:

  1. Simply Taupe (#C4B399, PANTONE 16-0906)
  2. Pale Khaki (#D3C593, PANTONE 15-1216)
  3. Apple Cinnamon (#D49F43, PANTONE 17-1045)
  4. Golden Ochre (#E6871C, PANTONE 16-1346)
  5. Mineral Red (#D53932, PANTONE 17-1537)
  6. Frost Gray (#8F908E, PANTONE 17-0000)
  7. Vetiver (#959173, PANTONE 17-0613)
  8. Bijou Blue (#395889, PANTONE 18-3921)
  9. Purple Magic (#7A2183, PANTONE 19-3540)
  10. Red Mahogany (#820009, PANTONE 19-1521)

Link: Pantone Fashion Color Report 2006 (Adobe Acrobat required)

The New Retail Networks

Starbucks_musicOn the heels of Starbucks' declaration that they are, in fact, a network, comes a similar announcement by Starwood prexy Steve Heyer. By defining a distinct brand persona for each of its nine hotel chains -- for example, W is a "flirty escape for hip insiders" -- Heyer plans to reach out to media companies, telecommunications firms, apparel lines and other businesses to help each of Starwood's nine hotel brands stand out from competitors.

He has already targeted urban "central social districts" for Starwood's new "aloft hotel" brand (earlier dubbed "XYZ"), whose own brand persona is reportedly about delivering a "sassy, refreshing oasis" (which might sound oddly familiar to his old Coke associates). In the months ahead, look for traditional tie-ins with companies like Victoria's Secret, as well as less traditional digital downloads from Time Warner's family of media products in your next hotel room.

Link: Transcript of Starbucks annual investor conference

The Real Lessons of the Hotel Bed Wars

Hotel_beddingThe New York Times reports (registration required) that pretty much every chain that is likely to upgrade their bedding has probably done so -- and despite claims that this is something that guests say they want, there is no corresponding research that supports this.

So what have we learned?

The first thing is, customers will rarely - if ever - tell you what it is that they want. According to PriceWaterhouseCoopers hotel analyst Bjorn Hansen, even without asking for bedding in the first place, "Most travelers seem to be extremely positive about the improved quality of beds and bedding." Westin sold $10 million in bedding accessories to its customers last year.

Secondly, hotel sampling has led to other changes in home consumption patterns. Hanson also noted that the bedding revolution has led to changes in the way people sleep at home, with guests modernizing their bedrooms after sleeping in hotel beds. As I've blogged before, hotels are increasingly becoming an influencer of consumer habits.

(In a similar vein, the HotelChatter blog reports that the Healthy Hotels Guide will be rating individual hotels and the cleanliness of their bedding, and posting the results online.)

Luxury Knockoffs Create New Ways For Landlords to Differentiate

Jennifer_lopezOne downside to globalization is the ever-escalating sophistication of knockoff manufacturers. Today's Wall Street Journal (subscription required, oddly enough, also reprinted in the Pittsburgh Post Gazette for free) describes the growing sophistication:

"...this month, a Hong Kong market was selling copies of Louis Vuitton handbags that had been unveiled in Paris but weren't yet in stores, says Nathalie Moulle-Berteaux, intellectual-property director of LVMH Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton SA's fashion group...one 2001 Hong Kong shipment nabbed by finance police contained a kit for the forgery of Officine Panerai watches...(including) metal plates and diagrams showing how to attach them to watch faces and how to forge the Panerai logo."

While the Worlds Customs Organization "only" estimates the annual sale of counterfeit luxury goods to be about $27 billion, if you're a city or a mall, the bigger harm comes from damage to the value of retailer rents and leases.  As I've blogged in the past -- if you're a landlord, it's not going to be "just enough" to collect your rents -- if you want the luxury leases, you just may want to show how you work with the local city government to protect the increasingly complex intellectual property interests of your customers.

Link: Anti-Counterfeiting Resources provided by the National Association of Manufacturers

Carnet Travel: Blogging Luxury

CarnetWWD, Vogue and Gotham Magazine move over: meet Eva Hamilton-Clarke, your guide to what's really in vogue in New York.

Today's New York Times profiles the adventures of Raquel Brulé and Eric de Lavandeyra, who have canvassed Milan, Paris, and now New York City to serve up what they consider "carnet". While Jason Binn and Andrew Essex target those that make $500,000 a year for their publication, Carnet Travel appears to be targeting affordable luxury. The Times article quotes Brulé as saying, "It's all about feeling like a million bucks, but that doesn't mean you can't have a good hot dog."

The advent of the Internet has launched the ships of what must be thousands of new city guides, from venerable brands like Guide Michelin to not-quite upstarts like Louis Vuitton. The blog format - where Brulé and Lavandeyra collaborate to create the "voice" of Hamilton-Clarke - provides a highly approachable, alternative format to stodgy guides. The reference guide format is well-suited to provide facts and backstory, but other formats like Daily Candy and 7x7 Magazine have shown the power of real reviews written by real people. While purists might argue that the Carnet format may not technically be a blog, the fact is this format is still young, and as long as people are excited about the format, it really doesn't matter what the purists on either side of the aisle think.

Link: PRLeap.com Carnet Travel Release

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