Marketing To That 'Special' Feeling

By Christopher Zoukis

Affluent women buy the latest styles so they stand out. Soon, though, everyone is wearing the same style, which means they don’t stand out anymore. This commonality de-stabilizes the affluent woman’s self-image, which includes standing out and feeling special. She demands a newer style, which the designers provide. The affluent woman buys it and once again feels special, because her self-image has been preserved.  Image courtesy

Evelyn Brannon, who wrote the book Fashion Forecasting, places affluent women in four categories: Individualists, who are fashion innovators. They use fashion as an exploration tool. As they explore, they feel distinctively special. The Mimics are affluent women who look to others, such as celebrities, to give direction to their fashion sense. They constantly change their look according to what is “in” with others. Fashion Arbiters form the third category. Arbiters dress in a more traditional style, influencing others in their group. The last category is called Followers.  Followers emulate the style of other mainstream, affluent women, such as the Arbiters.

In the ongoing search for feeling special, affluent women often find the feeling in distinctive designer brands. Zborowski points out that purchasing a brand name article of clothing can increase self-confidence, which makes the buyer feel special. Thus, brand names and designer logos are not only status symbols, but also symbolize a feeling of specialness. This means fashion choices are made deliberately for the feeling they carry with them. Clothing lets people feel special.

Although the above examples concerned affluent women and fashion, the same concept is true of affluent men, who also harbor strong desires to feel special. In fact, the desire to feel special is applicable to every cultural group and sub-group. Affluent women and fashion were used as the illustration, because when one buys luxury clothing one is definitely buying a “thing.” But clothing is unique, because although it is a “thing,” it provides a luxury experience. The experience of wearing it.

Feeling special, especially for rich people, often involves self-indulgence. According to Patrick Renvoise, author of Neuromarketing: Is There a Buy Button in the Brain?, wealthy customers subconsciously seek indulgences that will make them feel special. An indulgence is some luxury item or luxury experience they do not have or have not experienced. When they find it, they indulge themselves in it, because it makes them feel special or more special. This subconscious search is not influenced by numbers, such as price, or abstract terms, like “quality” or “value for your dollar.” Rather, it is influenced by what the customer will feel as a result of self-indulgence. Which means the feeling should be marketed by feeling words. For example, “Driving a Maserati makes you feel so special you’ll catch yourself smiling.”

JDM Marketing (JDM) provides valuable information for the marketing of “feeling special” to affluent customers. JDM’s approach is based on one simple fact: marketing is nothing more than psychology applied to business.

~Reverse psychology is effective in making affluent customers feel special. Reverse psychology uses marketing that presents the luxury product or service as too good. For example, the high-performance luxury car is too powerful and too fast, or the luxury vacation is too exotic, or the luxury jewelry is too opulent. The implication is that the product is so exclusive that only a few can afford to feel this special. Further implied is that the customer cannot afford it, and cannot have it. Since humans want what they cannot have, they want the product more than ever. The customer wants to feel that special.

~Marketing the idea that a luxury product will provide a feeling of specialness requires hitting the target group, and subsequently touching each member of the group. JDM calls this “getting your cake and eating it too.” According to JDM, repetition does not guarantee the affluent customer will respond to the touch. Sometimes varying the touch is effective, but actual effectiveness is difficult to predict. So how does marketing increase the probability that the target group will remember that the luxury product provides a feeling of specialness? JDM has done studies, which show that customers remember and respond to marketing touches that vary media, timing and procedures. In other words, effective marketing of “specialness” means using radio, television, direct mail, and an online presence. Diversify the touch, using different mediums.

~Humorous, fresh marketing that places the brand name of the luxury product in the punch line effectively relates the idea of feeling special. For example, Budweiser’s croaking frogs marketing campaign sold more beer than any previous campaign. Why? Because human beings do not memorize jokes, they memorize punch lines. By using humor, the croaking frogs implied that Budweiser made the drinker feel special. The frogs croaked out the brand name – Budweiser – not the word beer. Which implied the special feeling came from Budweiser, not beer. Admittedly, Budweiser may not be a luxury product. However, JDM maintains that with careful targeting, the same principle would appeal to affluent customers.

~According to JDM, in the information age everyone wants to be “in the know,” because being “in the know” means feeling special. Affluent customers do not want to be “out of the loop.” However, JDM cautions that familiarity with a luxury product does not mean the affluent customer will take action and buy it. Marketing must be targeted and unique.

~With regard to online marketing, JDM suggests knowing the rules before breaking them. For example, using the correct font on a website can enhance the feeling of specialness, whereas the wrong font will destroy it. Colors on websites carry meaning and should be carefully chosen. Some colors are feminine, others are masculine; colors are hot or cold, and some colors induce emotional responses such as comfort, energy, peacefulness, and specialness. Along with fonts and colors, contrasting layouts promote either harmony or discord. Needless to say, discord does not convey a feeling of special. Website design affects marketing by providing subtle cues to viewers.

~Affluent customers self-indulge themselves for a reason: they want to feel special. The marketing message should allude to that feeling. Why? Because, asserts JDM, the human eye cannot comprehend the entirety instantaneously. The mind of the customer fills in the rest. In effect, the customer infers the message that is being presented. Successful marketing leads the customer to infer the feeling of specialness that comes with the product.

Marketing to the affluent customer’s desire to feel special is a powerful method of selling luxury products and services. This type of marketing should appeal to the psychology of the targeted group. To ensure this feeling of specialness, the luxury product or service should perform as promised: look good, be of superior quality, and be exclusive.