Marketing to the Beau Monde

June 14th, 2011

Ever wonder what it would be like to be in the top one percent of Americans in the United States? Or how the wealthiest Americans in the country earned their millions? The country’s fascination with the wealthy has been part of our society for, well, at least as long as I can remember. Just think back to the TV shows we watched as children: The Beverly Hillbillies and Gilligan’s Island both featured wealthy families. Now, I do remember how Jed came into his millions — he struck black gold. But how Thurston Howell III from Gilligan’s Island made his fortune is still a mystery to me. Maybe it was explained, but I was preoccupied with eating my Captain Crunch or fighting with my brother. I guess as a kid I didn’t really care who was wealthy or how they got to be that way. But as a marketer today, it definitely has gotten my attention.

If you’re going to be marketing to the top one percent of Americans, you need to understand what makes them tick; you need to know their hot buttons. Is this an easy task? Personally, I don’t think they make an aspirin big enough for all the strategy meetings, challenges and headaches you’ll have. But don’t get discouraged, there’s a “wealth” of information at your disposal. To understand this audience, you need to research everything you possibly can about them. Whether you’re marketing high-performance airplanes, extravagant jewelry or the finest automobiles manufactured, a very specific profile can be developed to target these folks through the application of analytics.

The first rule is to start with what you know. If you have a database, use it! This is not an audience that is likely to respond to a 6-by-9 postcard that you slapped a stamp on and mailed to them. Trust me on this, I have the knowledge knots to prove it. The mailing will fail, and your approach will forever be deemed (mostly by yourself) as the most miserable campaign you have ever worked on. But if you begin your campaign by analyzing this group of people, specific demographics, lifestyles and behaviors will begin to surface.

Why is this important? You may be thinking right now that knowing this information will help you target your audience. If so, your answer isn’t wrong, but it’s only partially right. I always look at analytics as the blue print that an architect develops before building a house. If you don’t have a solid foundation and design, professionally speaking, your entire structure (or campaign) is likely to fail. But there’s more that needs to be considered. How can your analytical findings be implemented into creative, media, social, e-marketing, web and don’t forget the newcomer to our crazy marketing world — mobile. If you’re marketing to the wealthy, you better have your “i’s” dotted and your “t’s” crossed before you launch a campaign. Integration is no longer just a buzz word like “stellar” was in the 90s. It’s a real strategy. And if you’re marketing to the wealthiest, it’s a must.

If you don’t have analytics available within your organization, don’t get frustrated. There are a lot of people that specialize in this area. Word of caution, be selective! Make sure you’re dealing with a true database marketer and not somebody that wants to sell you lists or provide you with print solutions. You will definitely know the difference if you do your due diligence and ask the right questions.

If you do have this discipline internally, don’t be afraid to be demanding. There are a lot of demands on you as a marketer. The old adage of “that isn’t my job” doesn’t cut it in today’s world. When dealing with your internal staff, my advice is to revert back to the way you acted when you were three years old: ask why! Of course, the more questions you ask, the more the analyst is going to get frustrated with you. But don’t be intimidated. This effort and forcefulness will make you successful. I promise!

So, what will result from all of your efforts in understanding this audience? Ultimately, increased sales and a successful campaign! If you have properly established successful benchmarks, test cells and controls for continued improvements, you’ve done your job as a marketer. After the campaign has launched, and the questions start to pour in, you’ll be prepared to justify your strategy and the direction you decided to pursue. But personally, you will have a sense of self-accomplishment because you have cracked the code to marketing to the wealthy.

Speaking of cracking the code, I had to find out how Thurston made his millions. Actually, he was a billionaire, but lost quite a bit in the Great Depression. He had many profitable assets, including a diamond mine, a coconut plantation, a railroad, an oil well and 40,000 acres in Colorado. He also owned the Hatchet-Cuckoo Oil Company. Who knows, maybe he was good friends with Jed back in the day.




Borsheims, one of the nation’s largest independent jewelry stores, wanted to showcase its extensive collection of luxury pieces to increase sales during the holiday season. With a catalog full of simple, elegant photographs and product descriptions of the Borsheims Signature Collection, the company hoped to inspire consumers to celebrate life and love, commemorate a milestone or create a special moment. Bozell Smartargeting segmented Borsheims’ customer database based on a model created to understand the customer’s recency, frequency and monetary shopping habits. The Borsheims Signature Collection catalog was mailed to those who ranked the highest in frequency and monetary shopping habits. The catalog produced an exceptional overall response rate of 32.4 percent and a 4.5 percent promotion response rate.


Comments are closed.