When you think of “luxury” you might imagine expensive jewellery or flashy houses.
But the director of the New Zealand branch of affinity marketing group The Luxury Network says, for many wealthy people, it is experiences rather than material items that represent real indulgence.
Sofia Ambler, owner of helicopter firm Heletranz, took over the New Zealand branch of the network this year. It is represented in 22 countries.
She first encountered it as a member, through Heletranz. “I saw the benefits, and I also saw the growth in the luxury sector.”
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Heletranz had noticed an influx of high-end travellers coming in to the country on a private jet or super yacht and needing helicopters to get around, she said. In two years, the business grew 50 per cent.
Many wanted to get a taste of what the country could offer through the sorts of experiences that were not available anywhere else in the world, she said.
“Luxury in New Zealand is a lot more about the accessibility of nature than marble floors and gold knobs,” she said. “You might go out and land on a river and catch trout and smoke it for dinner. To them, that’s not something they can do, most likely, where they come from.”
But the domestic market is growing, too. More luxury brands are represented in this country now – Tiffany & Co opened a branch in Auckland on the strength of heavy web traffic from this part of the world.
“Even people who are uncomfortable with something being flashy feel comfortable buying quality,” Ambler said.
Ambler said people could get a taste of the high life relatively cheaply. “You might land somewhere, take some photos and have a bottle of champagne, for $1000. That’s manageable. Luxury has become more affordable in New Zealand. Often it just means an experience that they could not organise themselves. It’s not that it costs lots of more money, just that they would not normally have access to it.”
Businesses join as a member of The Luxury Network and attend monthly events, at which each firm showcases what it has to offer. Businesses invite their clients to sample each other’s wares.
The New Zealand members include Ferrari, Porsche, Mont Blanc, Pie Funds, Gaggenau, Matisse, CBRE, Designer Rugs, Coast, and Akarua Wines. Ambler said she hoped to grow the network to include more luxury businesses.