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: Positioning, Recognition, Exclusivity

By Christopher Zoukis

For example, a company sells ultra-exclusive cell phones. The company has targeted the ultra-rich as its desired customer. To utilize Tony Hawk, the world-famous skater, as the company’s marketing face would be a gross error. Why? Simply because very few ultra-rich customers would recognize Tony Hawk. There is no recognition factor. Thus there is no positioning of the product, no emotional connection. The ultra-rich do not “want to have it.”

A number of different marketing techniques are available when celebrities are used. The most obvious method is advertisements on television or in upscale fashion magazines such as Vogue, W, or Very. This type of marketing depends on the connection between the celebrity and the luxury product. Examples of this method were mentioned previously, and included Madonna, and Demi Moore.  Photo courtesy www.lexusclub.com.sg

Another wildly beneficial method is the placement of luxury products or brands in movies, television shows, and even books. A few recent examples include BMW cars in the James Bond movies, Audi high-performance luxury cars in Transporter 2, and the movie Sex and the City, which featured Jimmy Choo and Manolo Blahnik. Two examples of books that did the same thing were Malcolm Gladwell’s The Tipping Point, which made public Hush Puppy shoes, and William Gibson’s Pattern Recognition, in which Tommy Hilfiger played a prominent role.

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If You’ve Got It, Flaunt It

By Christopher Zoukis

In 2012, The American Affluence Research Center (AARC) surveyed 522 affluent men and women. The average household income of those surveyed was $304,000. Average net worth was $3.1 million, and the average value of their primary residence was $1.8 million. The survey revealed that the most desired quality of any luxury purchase was exclusivity. Those surveyed indicated they expected to remain loyal to brands offering exclusive luxury.  Image courtesy searchenginejournal.com

Tiffany & Co. agreed with AARC’s survey results. The company’s marketing plans revolve around the concept of exclusivity. In fact, that’s what Tiffany & Co. sell, privileged exclusivity. Only instead of calling it exclusivity, they call it “statement jewelry.” As part of the experience of buying a precious stone, in 2006 Tiffany started offering to take clients to a diamond mine. After watching the diamond being cut out of volcanic rock, the client chaperones the stone home, where the client actually helps decide how the diamond will be cut. The cutting or shaping of the stone takes place in Canada or Belgium. From there, the client travels with the diamond to Tiffany’s headquarters in New York City, where experts create a one-off design for the stone. Depending on the size of the stone, it could be used in a necklace, tiara, pendant, etc.

The affluent customer’s entire experience at Tiffany revolves around the feeling of exclusivity. It is the thrust of Tiffany’s marketing. And the same concept can be adopted by any company marketing luxury products to their customers.

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Old Luxe and New Luxe

By Christopher Zoukis

Why do affluent customers buy luxury items such as perfume, jewelry, and cars?

Because of the way the products make them feel, and the way they perceive other people will feel about them for having the product. This feeling is exclusivity. It is not about functionality per se, although functionality is part of the feeling of exclusivity. It is not about price and quality per se, although both price and quality also add to the feeling. It is about exclusivity.   Image courtesy fantasymomentsworld.info

Exclusivity commands admiration, respect and the acknowledgement of others when they notice the luxury product. This idea of exclusivity requires that marketing campaigns be carefully planned. Why? According to Simon Black, a director at Design Bridge, luxury has different meanings to different people. Black suggests there are at least two different views of luxury among the wealthy. He calls them New Luxe and Old Luxe. The New Luxe group desires exclusivity that is showy and status-driven. Old Luxers seek exclusivity through traditional luxury, and like to present themselves as “too posh to care.”

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Luxury Products Move Down As People Move Up

By Christopher Zoukis

The definition of the word “luxury” changes very rapidly. What was considered a luxury product yesterday is commonplace the next day. On a certain Tuesday only rich people could be seen wearing a certain brand of clothing. Two days later, everyone is wearing it.

Some experts call this phenomenon “product migration.” Another term used is “product devolution.” Simply put, it is “movement.” Luxury products move down because lots of people want to own them. They do not own them because they cannot afford them. So they work hard to improve themselves and their skills. They may start their own business. The result is they make more money. When they do, the first thing they do is “move up.” They go out and buy the luxury items they always wanted, but could not afford.  Image courtesy rides-mag.com 

People move up as soon as they can. This upward movement toward luxury products and services tends to pull the definition of “luxury” down. As more and more people obtain a luxury product, the product loses its luster. It is not as exclusive as it once was. In fact, it becomes almost commonplace. It becomes “affordable luxury,” which is an oxymoron, because the term “luxury” implies exclusivity. If people who make $50,000 per year are now buying it, technically, it is no longer a luxury product. And the company marketing and selling a luxury product that has become “affordable luxury” is no longer marketing and selling luxury. They are now selling a product that affluent customers perceive as ordinary. When this happens, affluent customers, who are just like everyone else, move up. They begin looking around for luxury products that are exclusive. Affluent customers always move up, never down.

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