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Milton Pedraza, CEO of The Luxury Institute, a rating and research firm based in New York, says retailers lose money when they buy into old stereotypes about the wealthy, like, for instance, the idea that most millionaires probably inherited their assets. Pedraza points to someone who owns a group of McDonalds franchises or a string of MRI clinics as examples of a modern, entrepreneurial-type millionaire.At Neilsen Claritas, a West-coast based market research firm which is working now with both the PRO Group and Nationwide Marketing Group to help retailers learn more about their consumer base, the well-off are divided into a number of different categories, based on not only assets but geographic location, life stage and lifestyle. “Upper Crust” millionaires love the suburbs and may respond best to mailings about outfitting or retrofitting their homes with the latest flat-panel and surround systems, while “Blue Blood” estate types might be in the market for security systems or home automation for their vacation homes. “Young Digerati,” a fascinating and quickly evolving category, include 24- to 44-year-olds who’ve amassed a fortune, often in finance or technology industries, live in uptown urban areas, and hardly ever pick up a newspaper.One thing all these well-heeled people have in common, Pedraza said, is that they almost all use the Internet for researching and purchasing decisions. According to that same survey, 81 percent cited “commitment to environmental concerns” as an important value.

“You can’t stereotype older, wealthy people anymore. They are highly connected 24/7. They are researching and purchasing online. Luxury dealers need to realize that. They need to have online videos and be covered in the blogs. The wealthy are in LinkedIn and on Facebook too. You need to use 21st century marketing techniques to reach them.” -Milton Pedraza, CEO of The Luxury Institute

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