The new affluent – don’t sell them a product, offer them a brand

by Tony Fannin, President, BE Branded

Who is this group? 84% of this group texts from cellphones; 78% use social networking; 66% use the mobile web; and 57% use mobile apps. It’s not who you think it is. This group’s median age is 45. They have an average income of $200,000 and they still make luxury purchases. What has changed is their definition of luxury. These people are the new affluent. They make choices not based on status so much as in personal expression. If it happens to be a traditionally luxury brand, so be it, but they don’t buy the brand if it doesn’t reflect who they are. They have the means to expresses themselves as they choose instead of  just buying what they can afford.

This group of new affluents buy brands that mean something to them. According to the 2009 Mendelsohn Affluent Survey psychographic data, they make purchases based on the following emotional qualities:

  • Uniqueness
  • Integrity
  • Design
  • Performance

These nouveau riche look for brands that represent quality, aesthetics and authenticity, not things like “the best,” “one and only,” or any other data-driven quality. It is not about price point or the lack thereof. You don’t have to be expensive to be a preferred brand of the new affluent. If you deliver on emotional brand qualities they are looking for, they will buy it – regardless of price.

So, what are some of the brands that currently fall in this category? Brands like Apple, Sony, BMW, Ikea, Levi’s, Whole Foods, Crate & Barrel, Ralph Lauren. Porsche, Lexus, Chanel, Target and North Face are all part of this brand group. They define prestige brands as having aesthetics, innovation, integrity and authenticity. All of these are not features or benefits. They are emotions that can’t be faked.

You don’t just sell a product or service. “Great brands create experiences, not products.” This is is a quote from the study sited above. A brand must integrate emotional qualities with the “stuff” they make and interact with customers in a way that reflects the brand’s values. You don’t sell the new affluent a product, you offer them a brand. Better yet, a brand experience – just like astute marketers have been doing for years. The difference now is it’s 24/7.


About Be Branded

Tony Fannin is of President of BE Branded, an integrated marketing firm who helps clients BE Somebody to their customers. If you aren't somebody, then you are commodity.

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