How Do The Super Rich Make Their Money?


In December I launched an e-newsletter for private jet owners focused on travel. To do so, I needed to build a database of owners, no easy task.


But first let me clarify. When I say jet owners, it also includes C-Level executives at larger companies that operate multiple jets. I also included owners of the popular Beechcraft King Air, though a turboprop, it carries up to eight passengers and a new 350 version runs $7.5 million. I additionally included helicopters. The worldwide fleet of private jets, King Air turborprops and helicopters is just over 25,000, so with my database now up to 16,000 names I cover a nice piece of the market.


In building the database, which entailed licensing three different databases, then spending over 1,000 hours of research covering hundreds of websites, I learned a lot about private jet owners.


Full disclosure: I wasn’t starting from square one. In 2007 I co-authored the book “The Sky’s The Limit: Marketing to the New Jet Set” based on over 600 interviews with owners and fractional owners of private jets. I also started a magazine in 2001 called Elite Traveler, which was distributed via private jet terminals, corporate flight departments, fleet operators and caterers.


That said, this project included an enormous amount of granular research. In the case of privately held companies, it often meant reading newspaper articles from business journals about my subjects. In public companies that operate private jets, it meant reviewing Annual Reports and SEC Filings to assess how much compensation senior executives made.


My research confirmed findings that have been published by Wealth-X in that there is a lot of wealth beyond the traditional go to places of California, New York, Florida and Texas. It was interesting to find very wealthy individuals spread across all 50 states, including places like Iowa, Nebraska, Kentucky, Alabama and other places that might not readily come to mind. My readership in fact includes all 50 U.S. states and over 40 countries.


While I certainly found lots of wealthy folks in banking, finance and insurance, the list of industries that spawned private jet owners was extensive, including farming, from pigs and cattle to apples and other fruit. And of course there was produce distribution, and then companies that make farm equipment. In oil and gas, I found not only people who made a lot of money drilling and refining but also laying pipeline and manufacturing components of pipeline and other industries that support oil and gas. There are readers in media, sports ownership and entertainment as well as auto dealerships, auto racing, legal, pharmaceuticals, logistics, consulting, beauty, fashion, real estate, hospitality, mining, education, franchising, frozen foods, pasta, jelly beans, education, research, utilities and any and all sort of manufacturing you can think of.


If you are marketing luxury products and looking for Ultra High Net Worth consumers who can be regular customers, it is a good reminder that the typical stereotypes of the super rich are often misleading.

About Doug Gollan

I am Editor-in-Chief of Private Jet Card Comparisons and DG Amazing Experiences, and a Contributor to
This entry was posted in douggollan, Fashion, Home Furnishings/Shelter, Investment, Jewelry, luxury, Media, private jet, Research, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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