We know where the affluent customers are. As an industry we have rapidly expanded our ability to get to them with relevant messaging. But the smart companies know that the current economy has created a situation in which customer segments and customer behaviors are fluid at best. The affluent segment is no different. Engaging the affluent customer is still a multi-channel mix of precision display targeting, email, and customer behavior knowledge that feeds the most relevant offer.
With a presidential election on the rise, health care changing the business equation and income equality at center stage, the status of affluent customers is hard to predict. We, among other companies, have used industry data and customer behavioral and transactional data to find the best ways to engage the affluent customers. Recent information and events make the affluent segment and the way they are engaged worth revisiting:
Devices: Mobile phone and smartphone growth is nearing saturation among the affluent customers. One the horizon: tablets. According to the most recent Ispos-Mendelson barometer, 25% of the $250k+ audience now owns a tablet, a figure that has essentially doubled over the past year. Tablet ownership will continue to spike in this category. It means that display ads will reach this device, will continue to grow and will feed a desire for more content.
Verticals: The US mobile travel market is growing more quickly. Research aggregator eMarketer forecasts online travel sales in the United States to grow 11% to $119.2 billion in 2012. And tablets and mobile will gain in importance. eMarketer estimates 16 million Americans will book travel via mobile this year, up from just over 12 million in 2011. By 2016, the number of mobile users booking travel on their devices is expected to more than double to 36.7 million. And significantly more mobile users will research, but not necessarily purchase, travel on their phones throughout the forecast period: 37.8 million this year, rising to 74.3 million by 2016. The travel vertical because of its loyalty program base and rich data sets is highly targetable. In one study by the IBM Institute for Business Value Studies, 20% of participants said it took them more than five hours of online research before making their booking. Combine high-income with behavior and relevant display ads, and you have a powerful combination for increasing engagement.
New Segments: Minorities are gaining the majority. And they are increasing their affluent segments. Take for example, African-Americans. There are approximately 816,500 affluent African-Americans in the U.S., representing more than 35% of the 2.3 affluent ethnic individuals. “AAAs” earn about $185 billion annually, and possess $87.3 billion in purchasing power. And with racial and ethnic minorities being the fastest growing segments of the American population, those numbers are sure to grow over the coming decade. Again, new segments will demand sharper targeting online to achieve higher engagement levels.
Euro Zone: According to the June Dow Jones European Affluent Study, the EU's affluent population is nervous about the current fiscal crisis and hungry for information. Says the report, the affluent are hungry for information and a firm's ability to provide knowledge, insight, and news about specific products and investments. While the instability, combined with new Internet privacy regulations, is concerning, it’s an opportunity for marketers to engage this segment.
Bottom line: track the changes in affluent audience composition and online behavior. In a time of domestic change and global instability a lack of information risks alienating your most valuable customers.