Neil Portnoy

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.

“It’s time for photospecialty stores to think a bit differently about how they go to market. For example, if dealers don’t have the ability to rank ZIP Codes by propensity to purchase a SLR or compact camera then they end up going to market believing all ZIP Codes deliver the same value to the organization, which is not true. Here’s a real-life example: I was consulting with a particular retailer that has 50 locations. I asked them what was their main advertising vehicle, and they said free standing newspaper inserts. I then asked how they determined which ZIP Codes to target? They said

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