NYC Insider | Quintessentially’s Group CEO Annastasia Seebohm
With Walpole’s British Luxury Trade Mission to the US taking place next week, we continue to profile the US-based experts who are helping to curate our four-day programme of activities in New York City. Today, we meet Annastasia Seebohm, Group CEO of luxury concierge brand Quintessentially, who discusses the American consumer and what British brands need to do to thrive in the world’s most important market for luxury.
How will you be supporting the Walpole Trade Delegation to the US?
As a British brand in the US, we are thrilled to support the Walpole Trade Delegation and are excited to help celebrate British luxury – its heritage, connectivity, craftsmanship and culture. We are involved in two events with Walpole during the week – a cocktail reception at Spring Place, and the cocktail reception at the British Consul General’s residence to officially launch the trade mission. Both events offer a chance for us to share and champion Walpole’s work, and the brilliance of British brands, with our many US members and partners. I am also thrilled to be part of a panel discussion with Jacqueline Gifford on British travel and tourism trends at the Art of British Luxury Hospitality event.
We’re looking forward to sharing our Quintessentially story in the US to visiting media, and supporting the many British luxury brands already in the US or wanting to build their presence here. The need for British brands to cultivate strong partnerships in the US has never been so important.
Why do you think the US, and NYC in particular, is such an important market for luxury?
American consumers are some of the richest and most powerful in the world. America is one of the largest and most important luxury markets, valued at $78 billion with 30% or £27.3 billion of that value attributable to New York (Source: Bain, September 2019). The US market is simply huge, and the financial and publicity gains, and growth opportunity, can be fundamental if a brand can succeed here. New York in particular is a relevant, connected and forward thinking city – it has history, tourism, multiple neighborhoods and the best of luxury sourced from all corners of the world. It is the birthplace of many now international luxury brands and businesses. While the luxury market may ebb and flow, New Yorkers remain ahead of the curve – a discerning, stylish, busy audience with high standards. There is money to be spent in New York and if a luxury brand can thrive and survive here, it bodes well for other markets too.
Given the current political and economic climate in the US, what do luxury brands need to consider in order to achieve future success in the market?
Technology, a shift in consumer values, and a rise in on-demand services are all challenging and changing the traditional concept of luxury. Brand relevance is key. Brands need to show their expertise and knowledge to the luxury market consumer as it stands, and to the consumer base they don’t yet know. Sustainability, social responsibility and philanthropy are critical – it’s about having a clear purpose and embedding that purpose into the strategy and fabric of the business and living the values every day. Individuals want to ultimately align with a brand’s values – once achieved, the ability to both grow your audience and build loyalty with an increasingly hard to reach customer will be much more achievable.
What is your top tip / piece of advice for British luxury brands looking to venture into the US market?
Know your audience. The US market is different in the sense it’s more immediate, impatient and bold. It’s also, arguably, more competitive and robust. There’s no doubt the US has a strong affinity for Britishness, and British brands, but being British isn’t enough. You need to start from a strong base and build your identity from there. Work hard, but work smart – ensure you are focused and targeted in your channels and how you communicate. And don’t be afraid to show emotion and honesty when communicating your brand story and its heritage – it’s about authenticity and the journey you are on. Those elements are the most memorable and resonate in a society that is naturally more open and direct.
What is your favourite bar or restaurant in NYC?
Eleven Madison Park – an indulgence but eternally elegant, with a mind blowing tasting menu. Also Grand Banks on a Summer eve – oysters on the water, you can’t beat it!