UrbanDaddy's Broumand On Positioning Luxury Readers, Digital Growth

Lance-BroumandBetween the recession and Occupy Wall Street, you’d think a brand catering to the whims of the wannabe rich would be hurting. Fortunately for the luxury lifestyle specialists at UrbanDaddy, you’d be wrong. We recently sat down with CEO Lance Broumand to find out why.

Online Media Daily: How’s business?

Lance Broumand: 2011 was the biggest year of growth to date for UrbanDaddy Enterprises. We’ve grown our readership to 4 million and our editorial covers 12 cities. We’ve also launched new verticals like Manero (our publication for Latin Americans) and Driven.com (luxury auto). Our headcount is currently at 105. On the client side, we’ve expanded our relationship with existing partners, such as Heineken, Lexus, Audi and Morgans Hotel Group. We’ve also worked with luxury brands like American Express, Diageo and Lexus.

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OMD: What’s in store for 2012?

LB: We see opportunity for digital media companies to extend the relationship with readers beyond just content. Lifestyle editorial has always created desire, and driven purchase decisions -- the opportunity to bridge that gap is where we see the next phase of our business growth potential. There’s a sweet spot for UrbanDaddy to offer a multifaceted media brand experience for our audience that covers editorial, experiences and goods.  

OMD: How prominently does mobile factor into the equation?

LB: We have various mobile and tablet products that we’ll be launching this year, including commerce-enabled apps. Our app -- The Next Move -- has been downloaded 3 million times, which is almost on par with our email subscription reach; brands are very keen to extend their digital presence to mobile. The Next Move acts as a concierge-in-your-pocket -- and uses weather, time, and location information to deliver hyper-relevant content based on the user’s context.

OMD: You’ve always said your audience doesn’t do social. Is that still the case, and what is UrbanDaddy’s social strategy going forward?

LB: Our audience uses social media in a very sophisticated way. They’re cognizant that their social media usage reflects upon their social and professional standing, so they’re quite measured about it. While they’re open to interacting with brands in social, they’re also savvy in analyzing their value to a brand within a social media platform. Premium brands like UrbanDaddy need to execute social media using much different tactics and metrics of success than those of a mass-market brand. It’s about deep engagement with a trusted community, that translates luxury to the digital space.  

OMD: Why does UrbanDaddy’s Perks program make sense for your reader?

LB: This is not about discounts or group buying. Perks are luxury goods and experiences that we curate, and for the most part cannot be found anywhere else online or off and quite often at full price. Last year, we coordinated VIP access to the launch of the Mondrian Hotel and had Nobu cook for members. The Perks arm of UrbanDaddy Enterprises has validated our hypothesis that readers are open to pushing the terms of engagement with the media brands they trust. The key to this is ensuring that the merchandise, customer service and logistics match the quality of editorial experience they expect from UrbanDaddy.

OMD: What’s the most interesting sponsorship deal you’ve done of late?

LB: The Chivas Brotherhood program for Chivas Regal Whiskey is a recent example of a brand utilizing the full muscle of UrbanDaddy’s offering into a holistic campaign integrating online, mobile, custom content, events and contests. The Chivas Brotherhood’s mission was to engage social groups of male friends -- ‘brothers’  -- particularly those who have made extraordinary contributions to society through charitable efforts. UrbanDaddy created a members-only gathering place and mobile site that offered custom content and invitations to events in their city. The campaign offered deep engagement across multiple platforms, which live on past the initial program.

OMD:  A lot of your readers are Wall Street-types. From readership to ad dollars, how does market turmoil affect business?

LB: Our readers come from a diverse background of white-collar professional careers, including finance, technology, media, and marketing, as well as CEOs and entrepreneurs. Readership has continued to grow through word of mouth, and strategic partnerships -- and we’re currently at 4 million email subscribers and 3 million mobile downloads. In terms of advertising dollars, we’re seeing more premium brands take the plunge to follow users into digital. Market turmoil and tight budgets force brands to be extremely targeted in their marketing and demand direct ROI for dollars spent.

OMD: Every major bank continues to shed staff, many of whom must be readers. Does that worry you?

LB: People losing their jobs is never a good thing.  Our readership comes from a diverse range of professions -- not just banking. Nearly every industry is susceptible to market volatility and contraction. Though some people never recover to the same economic status after being laid off, most people in the financial sector and other highly compensated white-collar positions move on to new careers of the same or similar status. It's our understanding, though, that during times of being fiscally conservative, people flock to quality -- meaning that when they do spend money on lifestyle purchases such as fine dining, they want to know that it's money well spent. UrbanDaddy continues to play a role informing those decisions.

OMD: Blame Occupy Wall Street, but conspicuous consumption has recently gotten a bad rap. Do you see that sentiment reflected in reader or advertiser behavior?

LB: Conspicuous consumption has been out of style since the first signs of economic trouble in 2008. Spending by affluent consumers has shifted from being showy to a focus on true luxury goods and high-end experiences. Luxury spending is set to increase 8% this year, and luxury ad dollars are there to match that increase. We’re also seeing aspirational consumers demand more quality. Marketers are tailoring products and messages accordingly.

OMD: What will UrbanDaddy look like two years from now?

LB: In 2014 UrbanDaddy Enterprises will have melded editorial, experiences and ecommerce into a single luxury lifestyle brand. We will have expanded internationally, and we will have built out additional verticals, in particular Manero. No matter how big we ge, we will never lose sight of producing highly relevant curated content.

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