At this point of the year, we like to prognosticate. It never makes much sense to look at how marketing will change in 2012. It’s here. But it does make sense to look at how marketing to affluent customers will change during the next business cycle. It makes sense to try to predict changing market conditions. With that in mind, understand that the changes in affluent customer behavior and attitudes have already happened. They have been affected by the recession and slow recovery. The next business cycle continues to be marked by slow income growth and a potentially game-changing commitment to digital marketing. Which will mean three things to marketers:
Stress Value Messaging: Value is simply becoming more important to the luxury consumers. That’s one of the trends Christine Duffy, president and CEO of Cruise Lines International Association, told a recent conference of travel agents. We couldn’t agree more. Affluent customers, regardless of the product begin considered, are more concerned with getting what they pay for. Messaging for value and quality can be tested via digital marketing. And once tested it can be continually optimized.
Assume Continued Spend Among Ultra High Value Consumers: The top 10% of income earners have expressed their belief in several surveys that the economy is not going to negatively influence their spending. Want evidence? Ferrari expects to deliver 7,000 cars in 2012 on demand for its first family car, the $356,000 four-seat FF. Maserati aims to boost deliveries nearly eightfold to 45,000 cars in 2014 as it increases dealers by 150% worldwide. Sales of the main high-end European luxury brands – Maserati, Lamborghini, Ferrari, Bentley, Rolls-Royce and Aston Martin – will rise between 19% and 30% this year and gain another 13% in 2012, according to a forecast from industry analyst IHS Automotive. Digital marketing platforms should be able to identify, serve and track the wealthiest customers, and address their desire to spend, spend, and spend.
Lookout for New Verticals and Product Segments: Casual Fridays and working from home has hardly killed luxury menswear. Brioni suits, high-end fashion accessories and various health and beauty products for men are all expected to have a good year in 2012. The data generated by digital marketing campaigns and a sharp eye on traffic to content sites can help predict and then capitalize on these trends.
Digital marketing will be the platform for identifying and reaching affluent customers. It will also provide a view into changes in their behavior and attitudes. It will be an essential dynamic in an economy that will most likely be stagnant.