Have you met today’s affluent males? Gone are the days of JNCO’s, Birkenstocks and cargo shorts for these gents. Instead we’ve seen men, specifically affluent men, spur a resurgence of style, proper fit and a recent appreciation for what they wear and their overall appearance. Luxury products that appeal to this modern gentleman range from custom-fit suits to specialized skincare. Consulting firm Bain & Company reported that this market segment is growing at a rate of about 14% per year -- nearly double the pace of luxury women’s wear. While the renaissance for the affluent male market isn’t new this year, it’s important to review what tactics and brand strategies companies have enlisted to reach this unprecedented success in order to understand how to sustain impressive growth and continue to differentiate.
Customization is Compelling
The affluent male demographic has helped to improve the popularity of the custom clothes industry. Tailoring, an industry that was all but reserved for ultra-wealthy, old-school men, has recently expanded into the mass market. According to Kyle Vucko, CEO and co-founder of Internet-only label Indochino, these affluent males are the ones most likely to buy online. "A lot of our guys are in their late 20s and early 30s," he said, "they're fresh out of college, they’re used to buying online, and they appreciate the affordability and value we can offer when it comes to custom apparel." Sites like Indochino have taken steps to make this luxury more attainable – both by offering the service online – imperative for reaching the affluent male – and doing so affordably. While custom clothing isn’t an option for all brands, offering customizable monograming, color choice or even enlisting user feedback when developing future products helps brands grow top line sales while developing a stronger, deeper relationship with their customer base.
Bonobos, a men’s clothing site that was founded in 2007 and that has raised over $40 million in capital, started off with one simple goal and one simple story: help men find better-fitting pants. Bonobos has since expanded to offer a full menswear line, including dress shirts, suits, shorts sweaters and more, but it was the component of better-fitting pants that helped it reach its exponential growth. This inspired affluent males to share the Bonobos story – equipping them with a concise, memorable and unique selling proposition that prompted word-of-mouth marketing both online and offline. This, coupled with the complimentary $50 credit it offered new customers, allowed Bonobos to quickly increase market share and establish long-standing relationships with affluent male customers.
Photography is Paramount
A survey by iProspect conveyed that nearly 100% of affluent males shop online, while 27% of the participants made weekly purchases. Brands must “merchandise” their products electronically so that they appear as impressive and accurate as possible. This will improve online conversion since the consumer doesn’t have the luxury of utilizing merchandisable space and store placements. To do this, brands must invest in high-quality and informative photography. The early success of Gilt is directly attributed to its focus on high-quality, professional photography. Gilt would go so far as to stage lifestyle photo shoots for early brands in order to convey the luxurious attitude Gilt hoped to achieve. While sometimes an added expense on which brands may hope to cut corners, with the frequency that affluent males are purchasing online, not having the most engaging photos of products can have a drastically negative impact on e-commerce sales.
It is impossible to quantify or attribute the resurgence of the affluent male and his heightened focus on style and fashion directly to one, or even three, key factors. Instead, what can be gleaned is that affluent males are buying in droves and are a market that should not be ignored. When developing a marketing strategy to reach this demographic, one that is actively shopping and buying, consider these key points as a baseline understanding for gaining adoption and improving conversion in the digital world.