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Q&A: Bia Bezamat on seducing the super-rich

Stylus’ senior advisory executive explains how brands can no longer rely on the old rules of luxury when reaching out to uber-wealthy consumers.

The uber-wealthy’s attitude to affluence has changed. Fresh from her talk at unbound London, Stylus senior advisory executive Bia Bezamat revealed how to seduce the super-rich, and why the old rules of luxury no longer apply.

Bia, you explained that brands should appeal to the super-rich’s egos. How can they do this?

“I think the biggest message in the presentation was really seducing the new millennial shopper, because even if you’re not super-rich you aspire to be successful. So if you want to reach millennials, you should tap into their ego.

“Every millennial wants to feel like an individual, and as such they’re constantly trying to construct their own identity. So really, the art of seduction in this case is more of an age thing rather a financial demographic thing.”

One case study you mentioned is Lamborghini Aventador S, which features an Ego driving mode that’s activated by pressing an ‘Ego’ button. Is appealing to the ego just an alpha-male thing?

“Lamborghini’s approach works with an older super-rich demographic; I don’t think the alpha-male version of masculinity is as present nowadays. That said, the approach does work with older millennials, who made their wealth, say, 10 years ago and are therefore used to having money.

“For something different, look at the recent Lynx/Axe adverts, which shows that a traditional macho approach doesn’t work anymore. It works for Lamborghini because its target audience is older – it’s appealing to people with whom macho behaviour resonates. But in the future this is something we’ll see less of.”

You also explained how appealing to local sensibilities can seduce the super-rich. Can you expand on this?

“Luxury has become so mass that I think the challenge brands now have is working out how to make consumers feel special again. One strategy should be speaking to them, and their heritage, directly. 

“From a product perspective, very little feels special anymore. If you go to a Louis Vuitton store in Rio, Paris or New York, you can buy the same wallet that sells every 10 minutes. It just doesn’t feel special, so brands are bringing back excitement by speaking to consumers directly.

“That’s why brands are really clever when they release collections for, say, Chinese New Year or limited-edition products for Rio Carnival. This is a way of stimulating demand because you’re creating something that’s fleeting, and you can only get it if you’re there.

“Mac Cosmetics, which has done limited-edition collaborations with Lady Gaga and Katy Perry, recently did one with digital influencers. It picked one in each country, and you can only buy the lipstick they made in that country. This was a level of localness that added some real flavour.”

Does this touch on your point that the super-rich are looking for a new kind of luxury experience?

“Absolutely. What makes it special, with the Mac example, is that you could only buy it there. It’s not actually the lipstick itself, because you could buy similar-looking shades globally. It was the fact that you could only buy it there that added to the experience. This is what luxury is nowadays; consumers are asking how brands give products an extra layer beyond the product – and the customer service – itself.”

One of your key takeaways urged brands to be the super-rich’s guide. How can they do this?

“By asserting control over the consumer experience. They already know that this new consumer wants knowledge; it’s their new currency. Products don’t matter anymore – it’s what brands can bring to the table. If brands can take over this experience and help shape consumers’ knowledge, then it’s great for them. How can they control the experience? By giving consumers the tools.”

Seducing the Super-Rich is part of Stylus’ recent Macro trend, The New Rules of Luxury.