Bergdorf Goodman tops luxury retailer survey

Bergdorf Goodman edged out sister brand Neiman Marcus as the prestigious luxury retailer for 2006, in the annual luxury brand reputation survey released by the Luxury Institute.

Neiman and Bergdorf switched places from last year’s survey, while Nordstrom has been rated a close third two years running, the New York-based research institution said. Nordstrom was considered the top retail chain on two of the four components of the Luxury Brand Status Index: consistently superior quality and ability to make customers feel special. Bergdorf Goodman a top rating on the other two components: exclusivity, and associated social status of people who shop there.

Bloomingdale’s, Brooks Brothers, Neiman Marcus, Nordstrom, Paul Stuart, and Saks Fifth Avenue, were rated by the Luxury Institute, which calls itself the voice of the wealthy consumer. The institute surveyed more than 500 households with a minimum of $200,000 in gross annual income and minimum net worth of at least $750,000 (including home equity).

“What a difference a year can make in the luxury world,” said Milton Pedraza, CEO of the Luxury Institute. “While the three top brand names remained the same overall, several brands traded places, and the results show dramatic movement in overall rankings and in individual metrics. The luxury retailer category gained significantly in stature as the average scores of the brands rose by several points, indicating that the entire category’s reputation with America’s wealthy was enhanced over course of the year.”

The Institute survey added a “referral metric,” which was overwhelmingly won by Nordstrom, Pedraza said.

“Even those who are not customers are willing to refer Nordstrom to people they care about most,” he said. “As the Institute has discovered, wealthy consumers have strong views about brands, whether. … These opinions can make or break a brand’s reputation.”