According to Wealth-X, the Super Rich spend over $230 billion a year on luxury from fashion to jewelry, watches, cars, autos, spirits, planes and boats, so clearly they are a critical segment. However, it’s rare that an Ultra High Net Worth (UHNW) individual is under a bright spotlight for an extended period of time.
As President of the United States, Donald J. Trump provides a unique window for luxury marketers who are targeting UHNW consumers. Trump’s wealth profile is not dissimilar to many of the Super Rich. While there was family wealth, his current fortune is mainly based on his entrepreneurship. In fact, his parents lived a fairly modest upper-middle-class life in the non-ritzy borough of Queens, a few miles from Manhattan but a world apart.
Like most UHNWs, he has had big successes (his residential real estate buildings, hotels, golf courses, beauty contests, books and TV shows) and other businesses that didn’t go so well (Trump University, Trump Vodka, etc.). Few, if any entrepreneurs don’t have as many failures as successes. Still, many luxury marketers gravitate to stereotypes about the Super Rich, such as they are all about cultural events, fine dining and they all come from Ivy League schools. President Trump shows that UHNWs are truly not homogenous.
While President Trump doesn’t represent the style or behaviors of the Super Rich, there are some interesting takeaways:
- Fine dining isn’t necessarily the way to the wallets of the Super Rich. Yes, some do like the celebrity chef culture and look at Michelin ratings. However, the fine dining audience is an accessible luxury, where for a couple hundred dollars the Mass Affluent can indulge. Look at President Trump’s food preferences, well-done hamburgers, including local Manhattan chain Jackson Hole as well as fast food such as McDonald’s. Even at Jean-Georges, the Michelin restaurant in his hotel on Central Park, reports say he orders a simple steak.
- Loyalty is important. In interviewing sales superstars for my book, “Secrets of Selling to the Super Rich,” each of the top sellers underscored that the integrity of their relationships trumped the product they were selling. The most successful way to sell to UHNWs is to be loyal to their interests. Pushing products to meet a company quota is a sure fire way to find your access cut.
- It’s not about your brand’s DNA. Understanding the passion points of individual UHNWs is a smart way to build a relationship. Speak about what’s of interest to them. If you want to strike up a conversation with President Trump, talk golf.
- UHNWs aren’t focused on your latest product launch. When I surveyed the over 21,000 readers of my weekly invitation-only private jet owner e-newsletter, only 15% said they read luxury magazines or e-newsletters. Most of their readership was focused on B2B media for the industries where they own, invest or manage companies. One only needs to look at President Trump to see that same focus.
- UHNWs want to talk to decision-makers. President Trump in his first few days has held meetings with top CEOs and has arranged a visit from the Prime Minister of the UK Theresa May. For normal politicians, arranging these meetings would have taken months of negotiations between subordinates. In other words, if you want to build credibility with Super Rich prospects, your senior management needs to support you and quick response will help you get the sale. Having your CEO ready to help can cut through endless meetings with subordinates that may go nowhere.
- The Super Rich don’t like to hear no. Most of them got where they are by pursuing ideas others told them were doomed to failure. Sometimes the naysayers were right, but it only takes business idea to create a fortune. Work with UHNWs to help them achieve what they want, so if you can’t fulfill their request, they can see that you were their teammate in trying your best to make it happen. The Super Rich know that if they don’t try, you will never know if it would have worked. They are often risk takers. Show them you are in it for them and are giving 150% to make it happen.
- Sometimes stereotypes can be correct. Trump and his children are University of Pennsylvania graduates even though there are more UHNWs who dropped out college than those who matriculated from an Ivy League institution.
- The family is important. While there is no question who’s the boss, as is clear from the Trump family, sons, daughters and family members are often part of key decisions are need to be considered as you build your UHNW relationship.