99% vs. 1% was the rallying cry behind the Occupy movement. Despite this, the richest elite haven’t been shamed into downsizing their purchases. From mega real estate and new luxury magazines targeting wealthy men, to haute bijouterie and one-of-a-kind travel experiences, unapologetically expensive purchases are back in fashion. There’s one caveat: buy what you want but don’t flaunt it. While the stock market has improved, fixed income investments still have low-yields, so the really big money is turning to other investment options including as art, antiques and even handbags such as Hermes’ bejeweled rose gold and diamond Birkin and Kelly bags or Hublot’s $5 Million watch.
But what’s the difference between pre-recession superluxe purchases and today’s? While today’s buys still represent fantastic amounts of money, there is some inherent investment value in them – the preciousness of the materials and the exclusivity of the product Think collector’s items that will one day find their way to Sotheby’s or Christie’s if they aren’t passed down as family heirlooms.
How to reach the richest elite? Create things that are truly special. In travel, think one-of-a-kind offerings and services that allow elite clients to save time or features that add comfort and more personal service Starwood just upped the ante in hotel loyalty marketing and benefits with its Your24 service for Preferred Guest elite members, which allows for flexible 24-hour check-in and check-outs. The Stafford London by Kempinski has launched a three-day, £100,000 Anniversary Package meant for VIP guests to share in the experience and celebrate 100 years of the iconic hotel’s luxurious service. And Six Star Cruises has created the ultimate luxurious cruise holiday – a 124-day trip for £1 million per couple.
A one-to-one marketing approach is also key. It meets individual needs and fosters enduring relationships with clients. We’ve seen it delivered via one-of-a-kind events or in exclusive environments created by the luxury brands. LVMH keeps finding ways to capture the attention of the elite first with its Bond Street Maison “apartment” for their richest clients to be entertained in a private, beautifully appointed apartment, complete with collector-class artwork, beautiful furnishings, and accoutrements. And then more recently with its “Island” in Singapore, which allows clients to access the lavish, architecturally fashion forward facility by private yacht for an exclusive shopping experience.
Another increasingly valuable attribute for elite marketing is trust. We live in a cynical age where American consumers give strikingly low marks to governments, institutions and even to the media. “With trust levels in place, clients will purchase goods and refer affluent friends,” as Christian Nielson wrote, fellow member of LinkedIn’s Luxury and Lifestyle Professionals group. So it’s no wonder that luxury brands left and right are slowly but surely learning the art of proper social media communication to build trust on the consumer level.