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Bulgari catches affluent eyes with outdoor light display for Serpenti line

November 28, 2012


Italian jeweler Bulgari is commencing a three-month celebration of its Serpenti collection with a light display at boutiques in Tokyo, Rome and New York to compete for holiday foot traffic.

The serpent-like sculpture will appear on the exterior of the selected boutiques to give prospective customers an enhanced shopping experience for the holidays. The Serpenti collection celebration will end in February.

“These displays drive sales by attracting foot traffic of high-net-worth customers who, while not necessarily buying the featured item, may trade up to something better,” said Ken Morris, principal at Boston Retail Partners, Boston.

“Jewelry shopping is theater and what better place to go than Broadway, or in this case, New York's Fifth Avenue, The Bulgari Ginza Tower in Tokyo and Rome's via Condotti,” he said. “Tokyo, Rome and New York are fashion hubs with extremely high-net-worth clientele.

“Like Willy Sutton robbing from banks because ‘that's where the money is,’ so too are the luxury jewelry folks playing to their market.”

Mr. Morris is not affiliated with Bulgari, but agreed to comment as an industry expert.

Bulgari, which was recently acquired by conglomerate LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton, was not available for comment before press deadline.

Snaking through the store

The three-dimensional holiday displays at Bulgari boutiques in Tokyo, Rome and New York resemble a larger-than-life version of the jeweler’s Serpenti necklace.

At the New York boutique, the snake-like light display seems to emerge from the top of the building.

The snake’s head and tail come together at the corner of the building just as the neck and tail intersect on the Serpenti necklace.

Light sculpture

The display is a 200-foot-long structure around the store comprises more than 53 scales lit by thousands of LED bulbs.

The lights are meant to illuminate the boutique at 730 Fifth Avenue.

Light sculpture in New York 

Bulgari's iconic Serpenti collection stems from the snake symbol that has been feared and revered because of its multifaceted powers of wisdom, eternity and renewal, per the jeweler.

The collection includes watches, bracelets and necklaces that are reinvented with each season, but retell the legend of the serpent.

"The serpent is a long-standing symbol of temptation," Mr. Morris said. "The strategy to front-face a serpent on three of Bulgari's biggest stores creates an instant draw and intrigue of what more is inside.

"The holiday season evokes a desire for splurging and jewelry becomes a perceived attainable luxury for the otherwise frugal consumer," she said.

Window to the soul

Bulgari is likely competing with luxury brands and retailers that are offering public displays during the holidays in large global markets.

For example, Saks Fifth Avenue and Barneys New York are capturing consumers’ attention in New York with their holiday window displays.

Department store chain Saks Fifth Avenue is stepping up its holiday marketing through an art projection light show on the façade of its New York flagship store and window displays that tell a story down Fifth Avenue.

Saks’ windows and light show was revealed Nov. 19 and combines technology and fashion with the theme “Snowflake Spectacular.”

The retailer is offering the light show intermittently in the evenings during the holiday shopping season (see story).

Barneys New York is one of Saks’ key competitors in New York. The department store chain began to hype its Madison Avenue flagship store holiday display in August.

The retailer is enticing holiday foot traffic from affluent kids-at-heart through a moving art exhibit created under a partnership with Walt Disney Co.

The Electric Holiday campaign centers on an exaggerated fashion show featuring altered Disney characters as models in designer couture that is shown in store windows and an entrance-way electric light show (see story).

"Bulgari is competing against many leading jewelry brands," Ms. Fischer said. "It is imperative for retailers today to take advantage of overt marketing strategies to inform shoppers of what they have to offer.

"By Bulgari constructing a massive display of the Serpenti necklace on its storefront, it is drawing in shoppers not only passing by the window, but also who may be a mile away," he said.

"This increases the opportunity for a customer to walk past a competing retailer and into Bulgari even when they are blocks away."

Final Take
Tricia Carr, editorial assistant on Luxury Daily, New York