The days of simply relying on a concentration of luxury houses just won’t do it anymore for Rodeo Drive or Beverly Hills.
The street, best known for its luxury flagships, has more recently taken to reviving its presence on social media and in the minds of residents and visitors alike amid several multimillion-dollar redevelopment projects in neighboring cities.
“For us as a city, a lot of it is about keeping the [Beverly Hills] brand fresh and it’s really how do we stay relevant in an environment where the generation is changing?” said Beverly Hills Conference & Visitors Bureau chief executive officer Julie Wagner. “With Westfield [Century City] opening up soon and the Beverly Center undergoing a big renovation, it’s important that we continue to maintain our own individual identity so that people come here.”
New initiatives follow a white paper issued by the bureau last year focused on looking at where high-net-worth individuals live and what’s top of mind for them so that Beverly Hills, the brand, can remain relevant to that group and beyond.
“A lot of what came up, and no surprise there, but it was this return to old school and the idea that people wanted stories,” Wagner said. “They wanted heritage. They wanted narratives. They wanted to understand how things are made and they wanted to see this idea of returning to craftsmanship and it not being made in an environment where it’s about turning out as much as you can for as cheaply as possible. So a lot of big brands are working on developing experiences in store, whether it be videos that show the runway experiences or looking at things on tablets.”
The redone Ralph Lauren store that opened on Rodeo Drive last year is a good example. A digital screen plays the runway show while the interactive handbag salon allows visitors to customize their handbags using the latest technology. Burberry in the fall streamed its men’s and women’s runway show for guests at its flagship on Rodeo before inviting them to the store’s second level to shop from the collection.
Greater marketing efforts took place during the recently ended holidays to encourage visitors to snap pictures at various themed installations throughout the street and then post away on social media. The bureau, along with the Rodeo Drive Committee, are now turning to what can be done for the summer to entice visitors to stay longer into the evenings or on weekends.
“We’re in exploration mode right now. We don’t want to be Westfield. We don’t want to be the Beverly Center. We want to continue to retain our unique identity,” Wagner said.
Rodeo Drive benefits from its contingent of luxury houses. Other retail thoroughfares in the city are also making strides. Wagner pointed to Beverly Drive with a mix of affordable and contemporary brands such as & Other Stories, Scotch & Soda, Maje, Sandro and Sam Edelman. The bureau has heard more feedback from people asking for an Abbot Kinney-like experience in Beverly Hills. In other words, one-of-a-kind boutiques and a neighborhood environment.
That doesn’t mean luxury’s out and the city, more specifically Rodeo Drive, will see a major shift in the kinds of retailers it’s looking to attract.
“I think it’s important to keep the trifecta,” she said. “Hermès, Chanel, Louis Vuitton — it’s really important that they remain on [Rodeo Drive] and remain successful. But I also think it’s interesting to find new international or new up-and-coming international brands that may not be as prevalent here as maybe they are in London or in Paris or in Milan or Australia. That would only continue to make our destination that much more relevant from an international perspective. But those anchors that are there — the Diors, the Ferragamos, the Chanels — they need to continue to be there.”
The bureau is now working on an economic impact report with the results due out in the spring.
It’s all about the right mix of product and experiences that resonate on a global scale, Wagner said. It’s not about chasing buzzy trends, such as tourists from China or Millennials, she added.
“I don’t want us to be the puppy that finds the shiny new penny that’s always running after the shiny penny,” she said. “For us, it’s that whole cradle to the grave mentality. It’s [about] how do you create content for your current customer as well as introducing content for the next generation of customers?”