Louis Nelson and Lionel Launch a New Venture
(Greenwich, Connecticut, July 5, 2016)... On June 16, The Luxury Marketing Council of Connecticut-Hudson Valley hosted a special event in the backcountry of Greenwich at Seven Bridges, established in 1993 by Richard McKenzie to support both established and emerging living artists and to promote their creativity. Sponsors of the event were InVillas Veritas, Katie Fong and Orrick and Company.
The purpose of the event was to launch a new venture between two world thought leaders in design and anthropology, Louis Nelson and Lionel Tiger, respectively, with an extraordinary suggesting that luxury companies (and, for that matter, any company) need to pay as much attention to the inner environment, or human nature, as they do to the outer environment if the quality of their products and services are to be impactful and sustainable into the future. The new venture leads from Lionel’s book, THE PURSUIT OF PLEASURE, in which he sought to evaluate the sources and impacts of pleasures ranging from a hot bath to softly interesting fabric to an architectural location that rewards the eye. The new collaboration between Louis and Lionel ultimately seeks to refine what it known about what our species wants and doesn't want when presented with things and experiences. Remarkably, the science of happiness is an area that is just beginning to be recognized in important luxury media as thought leaders in the market are working diligently on methodologies to measure emotions of the “luxury experience”.
Lionel first provided guests with a better understanding of Oxytocin, a hormone naturally generated within the body by some simple unassuming trigger, noted to enhance certain feelings of pleasure and comfort such as the complete happiness that a mother experiences when her new baby begins to smile.
Lionel indicated that human beings naturally seek pleasure as well as avoid pain. He noted, “Human beings have an evolved "program" to enjoy pleasure when it serves the human need to survive in a social and aesthetic environment. For example, oxytocin is a neurotransmitter easily stimulated by such vital matters as acquiring and sharing food and other sources of conviviality. Importantly, it sustains the mother of a newborn with high levels for some six weeks. Then it begins to run down just when lo and behold in a gift of effective nature the baby begins to smile and social pleasure replaces simple chemicals in getting through the day.”
Lionel added, "In effect what we must acknowledge is the role of the inner environment. This is the full package of needs, likelihoods and skills that is human nature. It is fair and responsible to say that the assessment of any product or system provided for consumers should include some evaluation of the inner chemistry that accompanies the outer behavior. A consumer may fancy an entirely extravagant object or experience but because overall people try to be fair to others, they will prefer a consumer good which provides them some clear mark of distinction but not of an overwhelming assault on the sense of personal dignity of another person.”
Louis then took everyone on a visual journey back through important design history and unique beautiful things, noting, “I love to see people, see what they do and when, smile, children dance at the edge of a fountain and walk along a water run, dine.....enjoy....l love to design things that matter, that are useful and helpful....beautiful products and places.....always have.”
His remarks then focused on the first brightly colored HEAD skis and No Nonsense Panty Hose, which both responded and performed initially when they were developed in the 1970’s to meet the consumer’s desires and needs. Both of the these products were revolutionary at the time and financially transformative for their parent companies yet, over time have somehow regrettably not translated into brands which are consistent and true to their initial inspirations.
In the case of HEAD, in the early 1970’s, the Company needed something to distinguish itself in the burgeoning ski market. At the time, skis were simply black, white, blue or maroon. The industry was changing; people were changing and there was increased interest in the sport, ski teams, personalities and related activities. The solution that Louis and his team developed was to offer a bold spectrum of bright colors across the line of eight different performing skis and then add performance information at the tail with the classic identification at the name at the tip or the head of the ski.
HEAD learned quickly that distinctive and imaginative products made people feel good, even if they were a beginner. One of the participants in the first focus groups went so far as to offer to buy the first purple prototype outright for $5,000 even though he was cautioned that it did not meet manufacturing standards. Interestingly, the engineering teams weren’t completely convinced until the sales results for purple skis outperformed the sales forecast with not enough backup to fill in during the high sales season the first year that they were introduced. They didn’t think men would buy purple.
Ultimately, the value of HEAD increased such that Howard Head sold the Company’s ski and fashion operations to AMF for an undisclosed number and within a few years introduced PRINCE Tennis racket and eventually sponsored a rehab clinic at Vale Medical Center. Unfortunately, today it is not obvious to the consumer how to distinguish HEAD or other top skis and snow boards in an overwhelming cacophony of relatively same design elements.
The years 1970-2000 were characterized by 30 years of extraordinary growth, GDP doubling each decade and increasing 855 percent from 1,000 to 10,000 while the DJI increased 1,348 percent from 809 to 11,700. In stark contrast, the period of 2000-2015 was marked by a drastic slow down as GDP increased 69 percent from 10,000 to 17,000 (pre-capital only 14 percent) while the DJI grew a modest 52 percent from 809 to 11,722.
While many factors account for this period of consumer malaise, chief among them are great dissatisfaction, boredom and probably anger, loss of income and assets, loss of a job, lack of distinction in products, the “commoditization” of many products and services and a fractioned shopping experience.
Louis added, “In the last 10-15 years, few items stand out with singular attention or perception as iconic quality products and services with the exceptions being perhaps the iPhone, Tesla, Facebook, Twitter and Alexander McQueen. Most everything else is 20 years old as a brand....and not too much distinction in each to separate them from their competition.”
Lionel and Louis concluded with a number of inspirational comments, offering that our current environment has many similarities to the 1970’s.
Louis commented, “Values have not changed but methods for manufacturing, branding and selling have. The time is ripe to offer new differentiating products, open new markets and bring in new audiences.” He went on to add, “Human nature has not changed. People are hungry. They will eat what you offer them. They’ll choose. And, when there’s not much choice they will still buy what is needed, even if it’s junk.”
Lionel asserted, “Just as we are finally beginning to appreciate our external world environment, as creators we need to respond with an INNER ENVIRONMENTAL MOVEMENT. The products and experiences that we create and share with each other can form part of the kit of robust tools we use to create this enhanced setting for our lives. "
The conversation was opened to guest remarks after Kathryn Minckler, Founder and Chairman of The Luxury Marketing Council of Connecticut-Hudson Valley, concluded by thanking the distinguished speakers and saying in summary, “Therefore, if one can appreciate and design products that awaken the magic of the basic human sense of pleasure, one may well be on to offering something of meaning, impact and lasting financial and non-financial sustainability in today’s challenging luxury and other markets. ”
Louis Nelson has influenced much of what we see, hear, taste and smell; and how we walk, talk, learn and feel.
Louis is a visionary artist in diverse disciplines of strategic planning, story telling, filmmaking, communications, graphics, industrial design, enriched by boundless curiosity and a rare sensitivity to the world around him.
He believes that, “Design sets a standard that affects our attitude toward quality and our sense of well being.”
He has directed a cascade of public and private programs here and abroad: the mural for the Korean War Veterans Memorial on the National Mall; the United Nations Dag Hammarskjöld Medal; initiated Nutrition Facts on America’s food packages; colored skis for Head; No Nonsense Pantyhose; Statue of Liberty dining, the world’s highest-volume fast-food restaurant; information systems and signs at Logan Airport, JFK, Air Train, World Trade Center and NY transit centers, NYC subways; exhibits and films for America worldwide and US corporations; murals; branding and logos.
Louis has been honored with awards from virtually every significant design industry organization in the country and abroad. He is a Nominee for the National Design Medal and served on the Advisory Board of the International Design Conference in Aspen and the Executive Committee for the Worldesign Foundation in addition to numerous museum and foundation boards.
Louis is a Visiting Lecturer at Harvard University, Pratt Institute and other schools in the United States, Canada and Europe and served in the U.S. Army as a Captain in the Armored
Cavalry and a helicopter instructor pilot. He has a Master and Bachelor of Industrial Design from Pratt Institute.
A native New Yorker, Louis lives on Manhattan’s Upper West Side with his wife, Judy Collins, the noted singer, songwriter and author.
Louis is a Member of the Advisory Board of The Luxury Marketing Council of Connecticut-
Lionel Tiger’s first book MEN IN GROUPS in 1969 introduced the term and concept “male bonding” and was influential in eight languages. THE IMPERIAL ANIMAL in 1971 has appeared in 11 languages and is still in print. It was a fundamental contribution to understanding human evolution and how our biology affects our daily lives and our old and new social systems.
His THE PURSUIT OF PLEASURE of 1992 tells us why we enjoy what we enjoy, why pleasure is a central feature of our biology, and how ancient human appetites influence today’s bistro menu and tomorrow’s sales floor.
Lionel has analyzed the evolution of human patterns of dominance and ambition and how they affect daily and nightly lives. He has parsed male aggression, female competitiveness, the food of China, and the sparkle of artistic skill. He has consulted to Swiss restaurateurs, makers of English biscuits, and the Office of the Secretary of Defense in the Pentagon. He has undertaken research in West Africa, the Israeli Kibbutz, the Canadian pulp and paper industry, and has led a parade of other insights into how the nature of our species stimulates and inhibits but is always a factor in our behavior.
Lionel studied at McGill University in Montreal, the London School of Economics and Political Science and has received awards from foundations such as Ford, the John Simon Guggenheim, The Canada Council, The Maison des Sciences de L’Homme in Paris, and the Harry Frank Guggenheim Foundation, where he was Research Director. He was been named a Cultural Landmark of New York City. He lives in New York City and Millbrook New York. He is the Charles Darwin Professor of Anthropology Emeritus at Rutgers University.
THE LUXURY MARKETING COUNCIL
Founded in 1994, The Luxury Marketing Council is a business-building global community of CEOS and CMOS considered the leader in the field of luxury marketing, setting the gold standard for the intelligent exploration of best marketing practices and trends in the luxury marketplace and inspiring luxury brands to more creatively work together to win more customers and generate additional revenue. Today, The Council is represented worldwide by chapters in 57 cities with membership in excess of 1,000 luxury brands and 5,000 CEOs and CMOs.
The Connecticut-Hudson Valley Chapter, serving one of the most influential luxury markets in the United States, was founded in 2013.
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