The Sig Survey No. 3: LUXURY MARKETING COUNCIL FOUNDER GREGORY FURMAN

GREGORY FURMAN
Founder & Chairman
Luxury Marketing Council 

FOUNDED IN 1994 The Luxury Marketing Council is an exclusive invitation-only collaborative organization of more than three thousand C-suite executives who represent over 850 major luxury goods and services companies including: Alfred Dunhill, Baccarat, Bang & Olufsen U.S.A., Barney’s New York, Bentley Motors, Inc., Bombardier, Brioni, Burberry USA, Cartier North America, Cunard Line Limited, Davidoff of Geneva, Giorgio Armani, Gucci, Polo Ralph Lauren, Remy Martin, Rolls-Royce Motor Cars, and  Swatch Group (U.S.) — to name but a very, very few—literally a who’s who of mass and bespoke luxury influencers.

The Council serves primarily as a catalyst in bringing together marketers of luxury products and services to explore best practices and issues, and market trends.  All of the Council’s 36 domestic and international chapters host a number of member-only events throughout the year including moderated panel discussions. Their benchmarking reports have become a staple of the industry’s collective knowledge, and they also frequently conduct research and surveying for their member companies as well as their own research banks.

The man who dreamed up The Luxury Marketing Council, and now serves as its chairman, is Canadian-born Gregory J. Furman, Greg to his friends, who is recognized as one of the foremost authorities on the luxury marketing, branding, and on the luxury customer. Prior to forming the LMC and his own consultancy Mr. Furman served as the Senior Vice President of Marketing at Bergdorf Goodman. He’s also spreading the formalization of what was once a closed-off, family-run world into a curriculum of business education, when six years ago he was invited by NYU to create the first accredited course on luxury marketing in the country.  He still teaches a semester a year at the Stern School of Business, and is a sought-after speaker and road-warrior in the meantime, lecturing around the world on all subjects that relate to the subject of luxury.

How would you describe The Luxury Marketing Council style? Style is the culmination of one’s education and personal passions. Often described as ‘taste’ or in the fashion and art worlds as ‘having an eye,’ style is most clearly seen in how a person chooses to be, relate, live, dress, dine, travel, learn and grow.

What’s your definition of luxury? True luxury has nothing to do with ‘stuff.‘ True luxury is having time, creative control and balance in every aspect of one’s life.  True luxury is a perfect blend of work and play, making and taking time to live well and fully, and importantly, to give back in ways that make the world a better place.

What’s your assessment of the luxury market today? The future of luxury is bullish and assuredly will remain so. People of means and education and achievement will always appreciate and be willing to invest on their own terms in the best of the best.  By 2015 China will account for 25 percent of the world’s consumption of luxury products and services with Russia, India, and Brazil not far behind. They’re among the most rapidly growing countries of opportunity for luxury brands.

Is the US still a market driver for your business? The Luxury Marketing Council continues to ‘go global’ (launching chapters in Beijing, Shanghai, Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, Bangkok, Toronto, Vancouver, Chicago in 2012), but the U.S. will continue to be a model market for our services to leading luxury brands.

What has been your most challenging project to date? Continued international expansion with an emphasis on better understanding how to provide value to luxury brands in mainland China. ‘Imagineering’ new value-add services to better serve our 1,000 member luxury brands, some 4,000 CEOs and CMOs in 37 cities worldwide and help them win greater share of wallet of the 10.4 million ‘best customers’ on the planet, those with more than $1 million liquid.

Describe the ideal The Luxury Marketing Council client. One who disdains ‘yes men’ and wants counsel that pushes the envelope; demands new ideas, approaches that drive revenue, are measurable; and one who lets the thoroughbreds run.

What’s the ‘next big thing’? The convergence of media into a single GPS-enabled device that will revolutionize the way marketers market and put the customer/client in the driver’s seat as never before. Also, as a general mindsey, luxury brands are moving away from a ‘monoline/go-it-alone’ marketing approach and will embrace collaborations and partnerships with kindred spirit luxury brands and take a decidedly more strategic, integrated approach to marketing.

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About SIGnature

As a commentator and influencer, Aaron “Sig” Sigmond writes and speaks about male-positioned (often prestige) brands well before they hit the mainstream media and consumers—including those selected below. Sig, who coined the phrase, “Because Style Never Goes out of Fashion” as the tagline for his 1990’s men’s fashion periodical Dossier-For Everyman, is considered to be a true arbiter of good taste.
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