By Christopher Zoukis

The word “aficionado” refers to an enthusiast. Aficionados are devotees, who are zealous about a particular person, place, thing, or idea. From ball point pens to the Boston Red Sox, aficionados are fans of everything and anything. There are no limits.  Image courtesy

All rich people, simply because they are people, have one or more areas about which they are aficionados. Marketing and selling to this area demands creativity and careful targeting, because the target area is very narrow. For example, Cigar Aficionado (CA) is an upscale magazine that targets affluent customers who are zealous about buying and smoking fine cigars. CA reviews or tests various brands of luxury cigars and reports their opinions in the magazine. Additionally, CA presents articles on subjects that affluent cigar smokers might find interesting, such as fine wines and other alcoholic beverages, exclusive destination restaurants and the best hamburger joint in America. Each of these ancillary subjects swirls around the main focus of the magazine, which is cigars. For instance, after chowing down on the best hamburger in America, which, by the way, is found in Florida, the magazine suggests an appropriate cigar to complete the experience.

This means that any company catering to affluent aficionados could consider CA as a marketing tool, if their target audience smokes fine cigars. Determining this is the tricky part of marketing. It is also the exciting part. This is where market research enters the picture.

According to Captivating Connections, which is an innovative marketing firm, marketers of luxury products are using proprietary networking sits to appeal to brand aficionados. Social-media sites are growing in popularity. So some companies have started their own sites. These sites are not intended to compete with the giants such as Facebook and Twitter, but to complement them. In 2008, marketers spent $1 billion to advertise their brands to aficionados, according to eMarketer.

The idea behind the branded sites is to create a destination that aficionados can go to after viewing the ads. Once at the branded site, the aficionados can form user groups and share information about their passion. Tropicana, Audi, and St. Regis Hotels and Resorts are among the luxury brands with social-networking sites. The sites provide aficionados with insider information, blog capabilities, and exclusive access to special offers.

Aficionado Wine and Cigars (AWC), a retailer in Ohio, has combined a social-networking site for its store with Cigar Aficionado’s online magazine. Each site has links to the other. AWC is attempting something totally unique. They are trying to give their store a brand identity.