When you hear the name Bulgari, young adult shoppers in Generations Y and Z are not the first to come to mind. At least not yet (unless you happen to keep up with them on Instagram and their very latest marketing efforts like those for Omnia Pink Sapphire #JUSTDAREBULGARI). The house has claimed Bella Hadid and Jon Kortajarena as brand ambassadors, and they’ve recently introduced the Millennial-focused New Curiosity Shop near their Via dei Condotti flagship in Rome. The New Curiosity Shop alludes to the heritage of the brand through storytelling and is actually a clever take on the founder’s original silverware shop that would eventually evolve into the Italian high jewelry company. It’s also a passionate celebration of Rome meant to attract locals and tourists alike.
Referencing the Old Curiosity Shop by Charles Dickens, the New Curiosity Shop is a place for fantastic discovery and the epitome of the new, immersive retail experience. Imagine intricate opulence, plenty of marble and a style similar to Palazzo Bulgari with architecture by Peter Marino and interiors by Silvia Schwarzer, the company’s senior director of interest design. The spacious, immaculately beautiful concept store launched this winter with a Mirabilia theme- complete with a store design featuring telescopes, maps and globes; an exclusive Mirabilia jewelry collection is also on offer. A new theme is scheduled to debut two times per year, enticing us with plenty of reasons to continue visiting.
Finally, highly trained Millennial staff members complete the atmosphere with a less formal approach conducive to the way Gen Y & Gen Z like to shop. In fact, browsing is welcomed and visitors may dive into the company’s archives (open to the public for the first time) via an interactive, in-store display. Pull up to the stylish Italian bar and delight in pleasures of the non-alcoholic kind - handbags as rich in color as candy and dazzling, eternally beautiful jewels.
The New Curiosity Shop may cater to a younger client, but it’s still very much appropriate for longtime brand devotees. Exclusives and limited-edition collections abound, including Serpenti handbags featuring the “#Roma” hashtag (200 pc. limited production) and the Serpenti Twist Your Time watches engraved with “Only in Rome” (20 pc. limited production). Another “miss it and you’ll be sorry” collection is the Condotti 10 offering pieces of pink gold, diamonds, malachite, mother-of-pearl…
If you have a Roman holiday in the pipeline, I would definitely recommend visiting both Bulgari’s flagship and the New Curiosity Shop to experience the graceful (and savvy) evolution of the jeweler’s image and offerings.
On Millennials and Luxury Brand Marketing
What do you make of luxury’s shift to please Millennials and should their efforts encompass short-term or long-term investments? Do their preferences today truly reflect who they are or do they only reflect the current mood/climate among the consumer base (customer service ideals not included).
I love the idea of the New Curiosity Shop and I see how more shops created in a similar fashion can also do well. But I do pause when I see social media images from the house and the house’s desktop and mobile websites. It’s wonderful they’re embracing and catering to this consumer group, but many of their latest marketing efforts are geared very, very young. It should also be recalled that a young, wealthy consumer isn’t necessarily a young, wealthy consumer in the spirit of the Bulgari brand. In some of the brand’s latest editorial and social media marketing imagery, certain codes of elegance fall flat or don’t have a presence at all.
Also, yes- there are young luxury shoppers the world over, but I believe that as a heritage brand, the pivot may be too much and too fast. It all seems to be happening in a way that pushes more mature, long-devoted clients to the sidelines - and very abruptly.
There’s a way to attract Millennials without alienating anyone over the age of 35 and Bulgari will need to find a way to do it. If they take cues from what they’ve accomplished at their New Curiosity Shop in Rome, I believe they’ll fare just fine!