Marketing To The Affluent: Break Through The Mindset To Get To The Money | Cups To Gallons
marketing to the affluent

Marketing To The Affluent: Break Through The Mindset To Get To The Money

I’m not gonna lie. I had a mindset issue. A mindset issue that said “Stacey, you can’t sell coffees and smoothies to the affluent. They’re not gonna buy into this Hawaiian tiki bar thing. They’re “better” than that.” After all, the affluent consumer wears high heels, mink coats and fly everywhere in a personal helicopter, right?

Boy, was I wrong!

At the time, my mindset was about as wealthy as my bank account – but back then I was $500K in debt. Dan Kennedy finally got through to me after reading one of the “Inside the Mind of the Millionaire Maker” articles and I realized that it’s not about the product, it’s about the experience.

Instead of selling a “coffee or a smoothie”, I sold a “vacation in a cup”. Instead of selling “catering” I sold “The Ultimate Hawaiian Getaway Without a 12-Hour Flight”. I created a story that explained what the experience of doing business with me would be like. Here’s my schpiel:

“We’ll come out and set up an authentic tiki bar where our professional “tikitenders” blend gourmet all-natural fresh fruit smoothies topped off with a Hawaiian parasol. No wonder people call us a “vacation in a cup!”

After hearing this, they wanted it. Price didn’t matter. Funny thing is, when we’d go out to do these catering events, it became clear that the affluent were no different than anyone else. They wore Hawaiian shirts. They drank smoothies. They loved the tiki bar. They were actually pretty laid-back and cool. And they tipped very well J

The affluent have “things” – what they want, and will happily pay for – are experiences. There’s probably many reasons for it, but what I noticed is that social media played a big role, especially Facebook.

People share their lives online now through pictures, videos and gifs. When we went out to an event, the host/hostess would take pictures in front of the tiki bar and post it online showing the great time being had by all. It gives them bragging rights to show that they were doing something fun and different so family and friends would then compliment them and/or ask how they came up with such a great idea. As an aside, it also gave me free exposure and visibility – thus bringing in additional clients who wanted to do the same thing for themselves.

Changing my mindset that I could, and should, be marketing to the affluent, completely transformed my business taking it from $500K in debt to a 7-figure profitable business.

It seems that every day there’s a story on the news about the demise of the brick and mortar location. Everyone’s shopping online, right?

According to the Harvard Business Review, sales made at brick-and-mortar stores accounted for 92.3% of retail sales in the first quarter of 2016. Even more telling, there was only a 0.8% shift from offline to online sales between 2015 and 2016.

So, despite all the doom and gloom around the industry, the stats actually point to a bright future for brick-and-mortar retailers — at least for those that are smart and adaptable. The truth is, while shoppers will continue to visit stores to make purchases for many years to come, what they expect from stores will be different. Not only will offline businesses be competing for attention against those that are online, but brick-and-mortar stores will need to offer more than just “stuff” in order to thrive.

Forward-thinking retailers are creating experiences in their stores. Some are transforming their stores into a fun, interactive experience.

For instance, the Urban Outfitters stores in New York, Los Angeles and Austin, TX have bars and restaurants as part of the store. And, they do not discourage walking around with a drink in your hand.

Bookstore chain Barnes & Noble also plans to open concept stores that offer a full breakfast, lunch and dinner, with waiter service, right in the stores.

Add this to the rock climbing walls at REI and cooking demonstrations at Williams-Sonoma and it appears to be a trend that is catching on.

The goal is certainly to keep shoppers in the store longer, but the store-as-experience is also seen as a destination to just go to hang out. If you stop over to buy that jacket on the way to the bar, all the better.

Yes, affluent customers are shopping online, but there’s two important attributes of high-end customers that you can use to your advantage in a brick and mortar location:

  1. Though many people look for low pricing first, affluent people don’t. In fact, a higher price often signals that something is better and therefore more desirable.
  2. Affluent customers prefer products and services that offer convenience and exclusivity.

Read those two statements again. It’s the biggest takeaway from this article. Now the question is, what are you going to do about it?

If you’re saying “my business is different”, you’re wrong. There’s many lessons to be learned from brick and mortar retailers.

Neiman Marcus is famous for its outrageous annual Christmas Book catalog, inspiring billionaires and dreamers all over the world with its over-the-top offerings.

The 2016 Christmas Book contains a large range of categories for all budgets including spectacular gifts ranging from A Week at Three English Estates Experience for $700,000, a private Slumber Party at the Neiman Marcus Flagship Store for $120,000, and a fancy Cobalt Valkyrie-X Private Plane embossed in rose gold. You could buy a $25 Coleman cooler anywhere, or you could buy a Lappas stamped leather cooler for $1,800. Neiman Marcus knows its market and is offering them exactly what they want. They’re not looking to sell thousands of these items. Take note.

When you are putting together your marketing strategy to attract affluent customers, be sure to consider these five tips:

  1. Look the Part
    Everything associated with your business should to be of the highest quality, including your fixtures, furnishings, and staff. First impressions do matter! Think carefully about where you locate your brick-and-mortar location as well. In retail, it’s all about location, location, location.
  2. Use a Loyalty Program
    Because affluent customers demand convenience, they will respond to your loyalty program if you help to make their lives easier. For example, you could start by making recommendations based on their preferences and past purchase behavior.
  3. Provide Special Perks
    Think about how you can cater to affluent customers’ desire for exclusivity. Can you offer early access to sales, special events such as trunk shows or off-menu tastings, exclusive updates and offers, or VIP services for top customers?
  4. Develop a High-Quality Mobile App
    Extend your top-notch customer service to your mobile app with a great user experience. Make it easy for your affluent customers to contact you, buy from you, or a reserve a table. Having your own mobile app may not be feasible for every small business, but think about how you might apply the idea to other elements of your marketing and communications. At a minimum, have a mobile responsive website so users have a great experience online no matter what device they’re using.
  5. Emphasize Value
    As mentioned above, affluent customers don’t look at prices, but they do think about the value or benefit your product or service delivers. Develop stories about your products or services that create an emotional connection and communicate just how special they are. I did this in my coffee and smoothie business by turning a commodity (a smoothie) into an experience. Instead of offering “catering”, we’d offer “The Ultimate Hawaiian Getaway Without a 12-Hour Flight”. Instead of offering a “smoothie” we’d offer a “vacation in a cup”. When you transform a commodity into an experience and craft a compelling story around it, price doesn’t matter. People will want it and will pay handsomely for it.

While affluent buyers want – and will pay for – customized experiences, what they don’t want is to be asked to fill out a bunch of forms or surveys to share their preferences. I remember the story of Dan Kennedy talking about how a driver took the time to research him and find out his likes/dislikes. She had his favorite publication available, his favorite drink, and knew about his business so she could have a conversation with him. Can you imagine how Dan would react if another driver were to ask him 50 questions when booking the service?

Don’t be lazy when marketing to the affluent (or anyone for that matter)! Take the time to do research and use the data you already have about your affluent customers to personalize their shopping experience by:

  • Greeting them by name when they visit your location
  • Being aware of their preferences based on past purchases
  • Mailing, emailing or texting offers and rewards based on their interests
  • Inviting them to VIP events based on their interests
  • Another great idea? Studies show that affluent customers crave exclusivity. You might think about directing your staff to ask affluent buyers if they would be interested in paying for a personalized experience. Just asking will provide great feedback into what their needs, challenges and opportunities are.

Ratings and reviews are another way to reach out to affluent buyers. A customer who is excited about your product or service and engaged enough to start a conversation is a person who may provide good word of mouth through online posts and in-person conversations.

There’s one thing that ecommerce businesses will never be able to compete with brick-and-mortar stores: putting a face on your brand and the human touch.

Therefore, it’s worth investing in your sales staff — the people who are there to greet your customers, provide information, and make suggestions while delivering seamless, top-notch service. It’s something not even artificial intelligence can ever truly replace.

When you build your business to attract customers, clients and patients for whom price is not a determining factor, it puts more money in your pocket and serves the needs – and even egos – of the affluent marketplace.

About the Author Stacey and Dave Riska

Stacey and Dave Riska, aka "The Cups To Gallons Champions" are on a mission to help independent coffee, smoothie, juice bar, ice cream, dessert and snack shop owners learn how to get into lucrative catering. They transformed their coffee/smoothie business from $500K in debt to a 7-figure profitable business (yes you read that right!) by doing catering. They're the author of "Cups To Gallons where they share the 5-step CATER system that can give you $800 a day (or more!) in profits. Join Stacey, Dave and your fellow small business owners in the FREE Facebook Cups To Gallons Group

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  • Wow, very interesting. It’s challenging me to change my mindset too. Thanks for sharing!

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