The customer is king and knowledge is power.  Two phrases that have never been truer in today’s bewilderingly complex consumer landscape. 

When it comes to luxury and travel, reaching that high net worth individual with a message that actually means something to them becomes increasingly difficult.  There are more and more brands competing for their attention, and more and more channels through which they glean their news and information.

So with this incontrovertible truth in mind, what is a poor PR to do when deciding how to target the affluent consumer, from merely wealthy to über rich?   Well, one answer is to keep abreast of research and intelligence in the sector.  Luckily I attended the Telegraph’s briefing on their new luxury portal and biannual supplement, where they presented synthesised research and three handy categories of luxury consumer:  New Mass Transient, Wealthy Achiever and The Ultra Set.  While their income increased in order, it’s really the way they think and behave that counts.

Here were the intriguing distinguishing features of the different categories, a synthesis of the synthesis:

New Mass Transients:  Why pay full price?  Despite earning upwards of £100k this consumer loves shopping around and has minimal brand loyalty.  They define themselves by what they’ve done and what clubs they belong to (real or virtual) and wear these experiences like badges of honour.  They won’t do something if the word on the street is even faintly negative; they are as much trend followers as setters.

Wealthy Achievers:  Having grown up and out of the consumerism of the 1980s these consumers have acquired a new sensitivity; they are both more discreet and more sustainable than they were.  They’re sociable too and enjoy hosting their own quirky houseparties or events.   Interested in things more profound in nature, they now enjoy intellectual pursuits, lectures and learning and their investments reflect their values, localism, green industries and technology.

The Ultra Set:  Heritage, provenance, real exclusivity and tailor-made product – that’s what this audience requires.  The super rich wants to meet the designer, the artist and the chef before they even get to work.  When brands get things right for them, in terms of personal service, then they are genuinely loyal.  They invest in collectables, seeing their indulgences as a way to park their considerable assets. 

So the lesson from this is, I believe, know our audience.  And knowing them think seriously and craft your messages and activity around the way they prefer to spend their discretionary income.  After all we are trying to persuade the intelligent and informed consumer, so marketers and PRs need to ensure that they are every bit as intelligent and informed as their target audiences.