What’s in a name: Branded Residences

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Branded Residences

31 May 2024

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1 min read


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It’s the hottest trend in real estate – luxury branded residences have emerged as beacons of exclusivity and prestige. These developments, born from the collaboration between leading real estate developers and iconic luxury brands, promise more than just a home – they offer a lifestyle. Some of the biggest names from the worlds of hospitality, fashion, jewellery and automobiles have either already entered the market, or have announced plans to do so. Yet, as this trend accelerates, so do the challenges of protecting a brand’s equity, and of maintaining the exceptional standards and delivering on the lifestyle promises that ultra-high-net-worth (UHNW) buyers expect.

It’s the hottest trend in real estate – luxury branded residences have emerged as beacons of exclusivity and prestige. These developments, born from the collaboration between leading real estate developers and iconic luxury brands, promise more than just a home – they offer a lifestyle. Some of the biggest names from the worlds of hospitality, fashion, jewellery and automobiles have either already entered the market, or have announced plans to do so. Yet, as this trend accelerates, so do the challenges of protecting a brand’s equity, and of maintaining the exceptional standards and delivering on the lifestyle promises that ultra-high-net-worth (UHNW) buyers expect.

THE ALLURE OF BRANDED RESIDENCES

Branded residences offer a tantalising package: the promise of a lifestyle curated by names synonymous with luxury, exclusivity, and impeccable service.

The concept first gained real momentum in the 1980s when Four Seasons revolutionised the market by selling hotel condominiums in Boston, which underscored the potential for hotel brands to extend their service legacy beyond the confines of traditional lodging. The model quickly caught the attention of other prestigious hotel brands, including Ritz-Carlton, Fairmont, and Aman, seeing the potential in combining the comfort of private residences with impeccable hotel services.  This blend offered an attractive proposition for affluent buyers seeking the best of both worlds.

Four Seasons Apartments, Boston

Four Seasons Apartments, Boston

The sector has since proliferated, with hotel and non-hospitality brands entering the fray, diversifying the landscape of luxury living. From the 65-floor Mercedes-Benz tower in Downtown Dubai, featuring 150 homes with terraces and private pools, to the curving architecture of the Bugatti Residences and the gem-themed Burj Binghatti Jacob & Co Residences, these projects are landmarks of luxury, designed to offer unparalleled living experiences.

The appeal is undeniable. These schemes launch with a bang and whilst the speed of sales might not quite match that of their supercar namesakes, they are snapped up by buyers drawn to the brand cachet and the promise of a premium lifestyle.  Dubai’s Woodland Residences project by AMIS, with villas showcasing Lamborghini-branded interiors, sold out a week after its launch earlier this year.  Mercedes-Benz Places in Miami saw buyers snap up 100 of the 791 luxury homes in the first 4 days of launch, ahead of the sales suite opening and 3 years before the 67-storey tower will complete. The trend isn’t confined to Dubai and Miami; it’s a global phenomenon, with London also playing host to branded residences commanding a price premium over the wider market.

Aston Martin Residences, Miami

Aston Martin Residences, Miami

THE LIMITATIONS OF BRANDING

The allure of a brand name, while significant in attracting buyers, is however just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to delivering the true value of branded residences.  When the initial glitz around the launch fades, there’s considerable risk that the day-to-day reality of living in branded residences might not always meet the high expectations set by their luxurious branding and marketing promises.

Brands such as Bugatti, Aston Martin, Bentley and Mercedes excel in engineering and design, crafting some of the world’s most coveted vehicles, but operating a luxury residential property involves a different set of skills and a specialised understanding of residential management, areas where automotive and non-hospitality brands traditionally have no experience or direct expertise.

While a lifestyle brand can infuse a property with its design philosophy and aesthetic values, the challenge lies in delivering a flawless level of service and ongoing operational excellence that matches the prestige of the brand name on the building’s facade.

This gap is often bridged by partnering with third party property management firms or hospitality brands. However, the effectiveness of these partnerships depends on the seamless integration of brand values with service delivery, a challenge that requires ongoing attention and commitment from all parties involved.  What too often happens is that the brand’s involvement long-term is zero or at best minimal, with the developer passing responsibility to a local property management outfit that may be efficient at managing communal spaces, but has no understanding of how to deliver a personalised brand experience for homeowners.   

A TRANSACTIONAL APPROACH VS. LONG-TERM COMMITMENT

The crux of the issue lies in developers licensing brand names as a lucrative means of differentiation without any long-term commitment to delivering a truly authentic and meaningful living experience.  So far as developers are concerned, the brand’s role is predominantly to attract attention, generate interest and drive sales. The relationship between the developer and the buyer, in this context, is transactional – a short-lived engagement concluded upon the sale of the property. Once the contracts are signed, the developer’s focus shifts to the next project, leaving behind any commitment to the brand’s ongoing presence or the quality of life within the development.

For buyers, the luxury brand association imbues a layer of confidence and comfort, mitigating risks, particularly in off-plan purchases. The presence of a reputable brand name signals that their investment will adhere to the highest standards synonymous with that brand, covering everything from construction quality to the finer aspects of the living experience. Buyers lean heavily on the trust they place in the brand, expecting the brands, protective of their reputations, to align only with developers of a proven calibre, thus ensuring the delivery and maintenance of the property to exceptional standards. This trust extends to the belief that the property will be managed in a manner consistent with the levels of luxury the brand’s core business is known for.

For lifestyle brands venturing into real estate, protecting their brand equity means ensuring that their brand’s DNA permeates every aspect of the living experience in a way that resonates deeply with the aspirations of UNHW homeowners, whilst at the same time creating a sense of belonging and community.  Buyers are not merely purchasing bricks and mortar; they’re investing in the brand’s promise of a perceived lifestyle.

CAVEAT EMPTOR

In essence, the allure of branded residences extends beyond the prestige of ownership; it encompasses an assurance of quality, the promise of exceptional property management, and the convenience of luxury services.  The right property management partnership is not just beneficial but essential, safeguarding the brand’s legacy and ensuring that the reality of living in branded residences lives up to the expectations set forth at the point of sale.

Dubai is seeing the fastest growth in branded residences sector

Dubai is seeing the fastest growth in branded residences sector