Marketing: The Quest For Status

By Christopher Zoukis

Selling to affluent men means using language they can relate to psychologically. This translates into talking in the language of the customer. If this is accomplished, the affluent male feels comfortable.

For example, if an affluent male customer enters a jewelry store saying, “May I help you?” is a mistake. Why? Because most men do not enter a store to shop, they enter to buy. They know what they want to buy or at least think they do. Therefore, they do not require help. A more appropriate approach, psychologically speaking, would be to wait until the customer stops to look at something. Then say, “You certainly have excellent taste. This is our highest quality.” This approach opens the door to communication. By listening to verbal cues, the salesperson can then guide the customer in making a purchase.  Photo courtesy

When selling to affluent men, it is important to know the product. Men are impressed with someone who knows what they are talking about. Since men like to get right to the point, it is necessary to ask questions to provide excellent service. Be direct and specific. Only ask for the facts. Then proceed to the bottom line. Affluent male customers tend to tune-out if too much background information is given.

Most men are interested in business, money and sports. Therefore, using analogies and terminology from those areas provides psychological comfort. A confident tone appeals to the male psychology. For it establishes a business-like atmosphere, a zone with which affluent men are familiar.

Utilizing all these different aspects of appealing to the psychology of the affluent customer allows the individual or business to position their service or product so that it is perceived as something only the wealthy are able to afford, which provides the sense of exclusivity. Correct positioning of the service or product also provides affluent customers with the opportunity to affirm their place at the pinnacle of the wealth pyramid. Which means that when they buy the product not only do they feel entitled, but they own something that is scarce and is available to very few, which appeals to their vanity because it will announce to other affluent males that the buyer has the winning image.

When positioning is successful on a psychological level, the price of the product or service becomes merely a detail.

Positioning a product so that it appeals to the subconscious, emotional needs of the affluent man means imbuing the product with the idea of “want to have.” This type of positioning is accomplished through adroit marketing and packaging. Create exclusivity by offering the product to a select group of affluent customers. Be sure they know only a few wealthy and discerning individuals received the offer. Assemble entitlement by emphasizing the peerless hand made quality of the product. Give birth to the idea of scarcity by limiting the availability of the product.  Only 50 were made. Stress the “want to have” idea: “imagine what your friends will say when they see you driving this car.”

For example, MV Agusta is an Italian company that manufactures premium motorcycles, which are called “superbikes.” The company makes motorcycles that appeal to only affluent men. One model sells for $25,000, which is twice the cost of its Japanese counterparts, and targets the moneyed affluent male customer, who makes $200,000+ per year. The other model targets rich and ultra-rich men. This model sells for $120,000. It is designated the MV Agusta F4CC. Capable of going 195 mph, it comes with a Trussardi leather jacket, and a Girard-Perregaux watch worth 15,000 Euro. Only 100 of the F4CC were produced in 2012. All were sold.

By means of positioning, which was accomplished by marketing and packaging designed to appeal to the idea of “want to have,” MV Agusta not only sold their superbikes, but they also enhanced their entire product line. For even the cheaper model is affordable to only a select group, who now dream of moving up to the $120,000 model.            

How did MV Agusta do it? By appealing to the psychology of their affluent customers. They created exclusivity, entitlement, and scarcity. All of which appealed to the quest for status. MV Agusta made their affluent male customers “want to have” a superbike.


Cagiva USA

2300 Maryland Road

Willow Grove, PA 19090

We carefully positioned our F4CC as the motorcycle that any aficionado would want to have, would have to have, would die to have. With only 100 of them produced, it is as if they are one-offs. And each motorcycle is actually hand made. There is no assembly line.

To enhance the desirability of the motorcycle, we decided to “package” it with two other items. Both of which no one else can purchase. The Perregaux timepiece and the Trussardi jacket. To get them, the customer has to own an F4CC. And any customer who has an F4CC has the other two. It is a synergy effect. We try to do the same type of packaging with our other model. Although more prevalent, it too has an aura of chic aristocracy. For instance, the customer may purchase accessories unavailable to anyone else.

There are in existence three other hyper-exclusive motorcycles, all made by other manufacturers. All three, by the way, more expensive than our F4CC. What makes ours the most desirable is its relevance and suitability to everyday use. Owning the others is like owning a Faberge egg. You’re afraid to touch it. Not the F4CC. It begs to be ridden, to be shown off, if you will.

Quite frankly, the publicity garnered by producing such an expensive motorcycle is by design. The marketing campaign was planned well in advance, and included the entire company, from service and engineering to marketing and sales. Effective marketing is strategy and tactics. Every detail should be taken under consideration.