The Soul of Luxury

How do you take a luxury product to market in an economically distressed time?

Interestingly, as we looked at the challenges posed by the economy on this practice area, we found that what we do varies little; and as we reviewed the larger landscape to include products we respect, we found that the best marketing plans continue to focus on value, a concept that has less to do with cost and more to do with the concept of timelessness, an attention to detail and craftsmanship.

The Sorgente Group, a highly respected investment group based in Rome and DKC client, has created a lot of buzz in the real estate world for exactly this reason. While Sorgente has acquired stakes in some of New York’s most iconic buildings, including the Chrysler and Flatiron Buildings, its first residential building – 34 Greene Street in SoHo – is generating the headlines.

Veronica Mainetti, who heads the US office of Sorgente, has personally overseen every aspect of the renovation of the two century-old buildings that were combined to make 34 Greene Street. ”The building already had architectural and historic value,” Veronica explained. From a marketing and public relations standpoint, we had to create messages that allowed that value to speak for itself, and to enhance it by highlighting the added value Veronica and her team brought to the renovation. As the New York Times wrote, 34 Greene Street ””¦celebrates 19th century craftsmanship on the outside and 21st-century precision on the inside.”

Our ability to tell this story was enhanced by the client’s willingness to speak to reporters one at a time, allowing each to walk through the structure, explore the work, look at details and experience firsthand what she was trying to achieve. This of course included expected details such as appliances and interior design. But just as important was the history of the two buildings, which formerly housed a printing company, and how existing design elements were incorporated into the renovation.

It is this attention to detail that enhances the experience of 34 Greene – so much so that it becomes part of the story of the building. The Times piece mentioned above went on to report that Veronica spent 11 months trying to determine the color of the 136 year-old buildings. Seventeen layers of paint were peeled away before revealing the original creamy white that was ultimately selected.

Luxury products have always benefited from a sense of scarcity. In the case of real estate, however, it is not the newest or fanciest that hints at value. In fact, it is often the opposite. 34 Greene has a sense of permanence; and there’s a confidence that comes from being able to combine the old and the new in ways that transcend time. From a public relations perspective, the story of the buildings’ history, restoration and current incarnation combine to give the property an individual allure that extends beyond its surface details.