A Touch Too Much? No Such Thing!

By Christopher Zoukis

What makes a customer affluent? How much money does someone have to make or have to be considered affluent? How is wealth defined? For the sake of convenience, this book defines three categories of wealthy customers.

            The moneyed customer.

            The rich customer.

            The ultra-rich customer.  Photo courtesy gawker.com

Later on, each of these categories will be divided into sub-categories, such as women, men, same-sex, baby-boomers, and the self-made. But generally speaking, the three basic categories are defined as follows.

Moneyed customers. The people in this category make $200,000 to $1 million dollars per year. They are usually young professionals, what used to be called “white-collar workers.” More often than not they are highly educated, having graduated from colleges or universities. However, this is not always the case. There are many exceptions. Some have graduate degrees, and many attended professional schools, where they received specialized training in a specific discipline. This group includes doctors, lawyers, computer sciences and dentists. Others graduated from professional business schools. Some are entrepreneurs, who hope to grow their small-businesses into large corporations. In reality, this category is difficult to define, other than the fact that they are motivated to succeed.

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Talking The Talk

By Christopher Zoukis

Another area that is vital to understand when marketing to women is their method of communicating. Women use more detailed and descriptive language, relying on qualifiers, disclaimers, apologies, and explanations. Whereas men prefer to come right to the point, which means men begin at the end. While women start at the beginning and move toward the end.

This means a marketing campaign for women should proceed logically from origin to conclusion. Additionally, research demonstrates that women dislike overly pushy and aggressive marketing. Avoid condescension when marketing to women. They immediately reject it.  Image courtesy discovertheroad.com

When making investments, women’s attitude toward money is different than men’s. Women exhibit more caution and are uncomfortable with high financial risk. They are, however, more open to accepting investment advice from an expert. Which means women appreciate information when making investment decisions. They want to be included in the process. So rather than giving advice, the seller should make suggestions presented as responses. For example, “You asked me about whether you should sell now rather than sit tight and see what the market does. Let me give you the pros and cons of each position, and then we can discuss it.” This approach includes the female client in the decision making process.

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Marketing To Women

By Christopher Zoukis

According to Forbes and CNN, women make up 50% of the population and control 80% of consumer purchasing decisions. More importantly, women now own 30% of all businesses in the United States, and this number is growing. Women directly control over $7 trillion dollars. By the year 2010, it is predicted that women will control private wealth in the amount of $13 trillion. This fantastic growth in income is changing the face of marketing. Women are being targeted. Charles Schwab, Citibank and Merrill Lynch now have marketing aimed specifically at women.  Image courtesy realestatetheband.com

Although married couples lead the way in home buying, the number two-position is held by single women.  Women buy homes. Women invest their money. Women take luxury vacations.  Women buy investment properties. Ignoring the affluent female customer is a mistake that no seller can afford to make.

The psychology of affluent female customers is different than that of affluent male customers. Now do not interpret that statement to mean anything more than what it says. For ultimately, affluent men and women purchase luxury goods and services for the same reasons, which will be discussed later. What is different between men and women is the way their brains actually function. Newsweek reported that brain-imaging technology has demonstrated definite distinctions between the functioning of male and female brains. Here are some of the distinctions:

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Marketing: The Quest For Status

By Christopher Zoukis

Selling to affluent men means using language they can relate to psychologically. This translates into talking in the language of the customer. If this is accomplished, the affluent male feels comfortable.

For example, if an affluent male customer enters a jewelry store saying, “May I help you?” is a mistake. Why? Because most men do not enter a store to shop, they enter to buy. They know what they want to buy or at least think they do. Therefore, they do not require help. A more appropriate approach, psychologically speaking, would be to wait until the customer stops to look at something. Then say, “You certainly have excellent taste. This is our highest quality.” This approach opens the door to communication. By listening to verbal cues, the salesperson can then guide the customer in making a purchase.  Photo courtesy motorstown.com

When selling to affluent men, it is important to know the product. Men are impressed with someone who knows what they are talking about. Since men like to get right to the point, it is necessary to ask questions to provide excellent service. Be direct and specific. Only ask for the facts. Then proceed to the bottom line. Affluent male customers tend to tune-out if too much background information is given.

Most men are interested in business, money and sports. Therefore, using analogies and terminology from those areas provides psychological comfort. A confident tone appeals to the male psychology. For it establishes a business-like atmosphere, a zone with which affluent men are familiar.

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Marketing: The Male Factor

By Christopher Zoukis

Affluent men are status conscious. So are affluent women. According to American Demographics, men and women perceive status and status enhancement in different ways. Men compete with other men for status. It is a competition based on pure comparison. The comparison takes place at every level. Cars, houses, watches, clothes, yachts, cigars and yes, athletics. When an affluent male sees another affluent male, who appears to have more status, the game is on. It is not about the game, it is about winning the game. Which explains why Larry Ellison ordered a new yacht to replace his old one. While cruising the Mediterranean, Ellison pulled into Monaco for the night. To his dismay, his yacht was the second longest in the harbor. The longest yacht belonged to Paul Allen, who founded Micro-Soft along with Bill Gates. Larry Ellison had to have the biggest yacht in the harbor. And his yacht had to have the finest and most luxurious appointments. So Larry Ellison immediately ordered a new yacht to be custom-built for him. It would be fifty feet longer than Paul Allen’s yacht.  Image courtesy itbusinessimage.com

For affluent men, status is a “gut” reaction and involves what they perceive as a “winning image.” This winning image is established by marketing in popular media outlets: magazines, the internet, television. Affluent men see what other affluent men are buying, so they buy too. In other words, they buy what they see everyday, because what they see everyday is what they come to desire. To validate themselves and their status, affluent men want what their peers have and, if possible, something a little bit better.

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Marketing and Enthusiasm

By Christopher Zoukis

U.S. Census numbers indicate that gays and lesbians live in every part of the United States. Most of them are intelligent, educated, and technologically attuned. Many of them are wealthy. They enjoy spending their money on travel and luxury goods.

For example, Kimpton Hotels and RPhoto courtesy luxedb.comestaurants did a research survey, because they wanted to attract gay and lesbian customers. The result? Lesbian businesswomen, who take frequent vacations and stay in luxury hotels, have the same values, lifestyles and hobbies as their heterosexual counterparts. They enjoy spas, exercise facilities, tasteful interior décor, and personal services, such as massages and facials. Lesbian customers prefer to spend their money at businesses that support feminist causes and other non-profit organizations. 

Kimpton now offers getaway packages to lesbians and heterosexual women, both of which are a steadily growing source of revenue for Kimpton.

Another example is Budget car rental company. Budget instituted a marketing campaign targeting gay men. It was quite simple, but very effective. Budget treats gay partners as if they were married. There is no surcharge for another driver. Gay customers like this kind of treatment. They remember it. Whenever they travel, they come back to Budget.

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Marketing Specificity

By Christopher Zoukis

According to a national survey conducted by Harris Interactive, 48% of gay and lesbian adults go shopping with the intention of keeping up with the latest styles and trends in luxury goods.  Only 38% of heterosexual adults shop for the same reason. Of the gay men surveyed, 53% like to be up to date as far as fashion is concerned. And 49% of the same group move up to the most recent models of luxury products. One reason for all this shopping is that only 20% of gay and lesbian households contain children. Which means gays and lesbians have more discretionary income than their heterosexual counterparts.  Image courtesy pro2pronetwork.com

These statistics indicate that the market for affluent gay and lesbian customers is just waiting to be tapped. There are 16 million gay customers over the age of 18 in the USA. They represent $641 billion in buying power, according to Harris Interactive.  Gay customers are more likely than heterosexuals to make purchases online with credit cards. And 79% of gays and lesbians indulge themselves with luxury goods and services.

Gays and lesbians seek out and support brands that market specifically to them. With the result that 89% of gays and lesbians are brand loyal.  Compared to heterosexuals, gays and lesbians are four times more likely to shop at Banana Republic. Three times more likely to shop at Bloomingdales. Four times more likely to shop at The Sharper Image. Three times more likely to buy from a Restoration Hardware catalogue. Three times more likely to shop at Crate and Barrel. Four times more likely to shop at Saks Fifth Avenue. Three times more likely to shop at Neiman Marcus.

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Marketing: Selling the Ritz to Boomers

By Christopher Zoukis

Harris Interactive reports most baby boomers are still in the workforce, and are a driving force in the housing market. The same report concludes 42% of baby boomers would like to retire in the South, 32% in the Western United States, 15% in the Midwest, and 12% in the Northeast. Which means the bulk of opportunity for marketing luxury real estate remains in the Sunbelt.  Image courtesy tourdehomes.com

Four out of ten or 40% of baby boomers own second, separate vacation homes. In fact, baby boomers account for 57% of all vacation home ownership, and own 58% of all rental properties in the United States. Ten percent of baby boomers plan to buy real estate over the course of the next year. Two-thirds of those will buy a new home, a second home or commercial property.

According to a National Association of Realtors survey, baby boomers expect to use a professional realtor when they buy property. Not only will they utilize real estate agents, but they will demand excellent service and expertise from their agent. Of boomers in the rich category, 97% own homes, and 47% own other additional real estate.

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Marketing: Emotional Anchors

By Christopher Zoukis

What does this information mean to the seller of luxury goods and services who wants to market to baby boomers? For one, it means not neglecting this important and wealthy segment of affluent customers. Websites, marketing, and advertising must target baby boomers. Design websites that appeal to and attract affluent baby boomers. For two, it means the websites must be consistently easy to use, so baby boomers will stay on the site. This calls for simplicity of design, more color contrast and larger fonts, which boomers can see and read, because many of them utilize reading glasses.  Image courtesy workhappynow.com

According to the website design engineers at Mix-UnitX, the content of websites needs to be created to target the primary interests of specific age groups. The experts at Mix-UnitX offer the following guidelines:

18-35 Age Group:

            45% of gen-Xers go online for entertainment information

            40% of gen-Xers go online for local and national news

            38% of gen-Xers go online to play games

            36% of gen-Xers go online for information about shopping and products

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Marketing: Never Trust Anyone Over 30

By Christopher Zoukis

Baby boomers believe they are special. This means they demand the best, because the best bolsters the idea that they are extraordinary. This translates to mean they are attracted to perks, such as frequent flier miles, credit cards that offer access to upgraded hotel suites, and travel packages that give them special access to creative performances, such as art shows or stage shows. It also means they desire customized luxury goods and services. Baby boomers dislike being part of the rank and file. For example, when traveling to San Francisco and visiting Fisherman’s Wharf, boomers don’t want to stand in line with everyone else to ride the ferry to Alcatraz. They want to take one of the exclusive evening tours offered only by the Blue and Gold Line. These tours cost more, but offer more personal touches, such as a visit to the ferry’s control room, and human guides on Alcatraz rather than the standard audio guide.

When baby boomers say they want an experience, they mean they want a luxury experience. Gourmet food, panoramic views and superb service are essential to this experience. They do not want to rough it or stay in a standard motel room. Only the finest hotels complete with the most luxurious decor fits the tastes of boomers.  Image courtesy onlinemarketingideas.info

Baby boomers have hectic lifestyles, because they are trying to pack so much living into each day: work, spouses, hobbies, sports, and social activities. This explains why boomers like products and services that save time. Laptop computers, the internet, smart phones, and iPads are absolute necessities for baby boomers. Service providers have to earn the trust of baby boomers. Once they do, the boomers remain loyal.

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