Nov. 19th, 2006

Unsold over-the-top holiday gifts boost the bottom line: Branson’s galactic trip returns 600% ROI.

For less than $2 million you, thou blessed reader, can charter a flight aboard Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo. Soar 63 miles above sea level and experience weightlessness
firsthand. After returning to Earth, you and your guest will
enjoy luxury accommodations on Necker Island and four nights of
all-inclusive festivities on Sir Richard Branson’s private island
retreat in the British Virgin Islands.

The Virgin spaceship vacation is just one of the many delights in the recently published Nieman Marcus 2006 Xmas holiday catalog. Other gifts include a personal 7ft skyscraper made of #2 pencils ($40,000), and luxury pet homes by Italian designer Marco Morosini featuring wheels and crafted of poplar with an interior
rug and coordinating wallpaper ($6,000 +).  See the rest here.

Funny enough, most of the spectacular gifts never sell.

Nieman’s report only half of the items on its fantasy list sold last year, and other retailers report similar results.

Limited Brands jewel encrusted $3 million bra for Victoria Secret failed to find any takers last year.  Sam’s club offered a custom 1968 Camaro by Chip Foose for $198,000  and a wine tasting trip to New Zealand for $48,000. Neither sold.

So why do they do it? For the free PR. The Journal reports that Nieman’s estimate the publicity from their fantasy list generates $9-$12 million of TV coverage. For Victoria Secret, the million-dollar bra "elevates the brand to the status of ultimate luxury".

So effective are these programs that a whole slew of rivals are planning similar promotions this season. Watch out for seven "wow" items from Saks including a walk-on role in an American Ballet Theatre production, and a day at the Super Bowl accompanied by a famous football player. Bloomies is auctioning  designer-themed travel packages, and even Target is getting into the game with a $10,000 Lionel train set.

Read the full story here (subscription required).

Post a Comment