There has arguably been no stronger stigma attached to affluence than in the current political and economic climate. Tax rates are said to be unbalanced, income is allegedly too concentrated and the Occupy Wall Street movement is just starting to vacate. It is reasonable to question the concept of affluent marketing. But if you’re going to question the concept, make sure you answer with an unqualified “yes.”
Marketing to affluent clients is a simple targeting tactic. It doesn’t say anything about the social or political leanings of a company. While it might not be the right time for any brand to flaunt wealth or even the right time to appear to be ultra-exclusive, it is not a time to back away from the affluent audience. Smart marketers have always followed some tried and true rules for approaching affluent customers, and digital marketing plays into all of them. Let’s focus on three:
1. Focus on the image: Affluent brands have never focused on “bling.” They are by tradition conservative. Example: Emirates Air doesn't flaunt price tag; it flaunts comfort and service. Tiffany is known less for its sparkling diamonds in its online ads that it’s known for the "little blue box." Display ads can communicate image. Image does not have to alienate customer groups.
2. Focus on the target: It is more important than ever to make sure that products and services that do carry high price tags get to the right audience. Anything else will potentially alienate customers and as always, drop your ROI. The right media partner will be able to guarantee that the affluent customers get the right, relevant message and that other customer segments don’t. This goes for any product and any customer segment. Affluent and non-affluent is no more an advertising judgment than teens or young adults.
3. Focus on the right verticals: Travel, high-end fashion and automotive have held their upper end pricing and sales. According to TravelPulse luxury travel is trending up 36% this year. Brands and agencies in these verticals can feel comfortable about increasing digital spend and ROI.
Economic conditions come and go and the smart marketer will predict those trends. In a similar fashion, the composition of the affluent market will change. But the ability of digital marketing to hit it will remain consistent.