Luxury Marketing: How To Reach Ultra-High-Net-Worth Women

By Niki McMorrough / Commercial Director at Relevance

Many of the world’s high-value goods and service providers, such as yachts, cars and real estate, have had an overwhelmingly male client base because, until 2014, men represented more than 93% of all Ultra-High-Net-Worth-Individuals. But this is now changing, and pinnacle luxury companies and brands need to adapt their luxury marketing strategies to appeal to UHNW women. However, it’s not as easy as simply adding UHNW women to a brand’s target audience. Relevance has found key differences in how these women think, feel, behave, and make purchase decisions compared to their male counterparts.

UHNW women require luxury brands to have a fundamentally different approach to doing business, one that is more altruistic, empathetic, and philanthropic. And, this needs to be reflected in their luxury brand marketing. So, it’s not enough to invent a new product or service – companies need to look at their brand ethos, corporate social responsibility, sustainability, diversity, and equality practices to appeal to them.

The team at Relevance has been marketing to UHNW audiences for more than 12 years and specialize in using data-driven insights to drive creative luxury digital marketing strategies that get results.

Luxury Marketing to UHNW Women

Who is a UHNWI in luxury marketing?

A UHNWI is a person with a net worth of more than $30 million in luxury marketing. Net worth is the value of all assets minus the total of all liabilities. Put another way; net worth is what is owned minus what is owed.

UHNWIs represent the second-highest wealth tier on the planet, with around 290,000 of these individuals, surpassed only in wealth by the world’s 2,800 billionaires.

Infographic 1*: Global audience size by Wealth segment

Infographic 2: WealthX UHNW audiences by gender.

UHNW women are rare. There are only 29,300 UHNW women in the entire world. This is just 9.9% of the UHNWI population compared to 263,700 UHNW men.

Ultra-luxury brand marketing needs to be laser-sharp, and, as such, brands need to be seen to move in the right circles and appear in the right places to reach this elite audience.

Closed groups, personalized direct marketing, events and partnerships with other UHNW focused companies are top of the list in the UHNW women luxury marketing mix.

Multi-layered paid media needs to include precise postcode targeting, such as the Cayman Islands, Monte Carlo, and elite U.S. and Dubai postcodes such as Fisher Island, Atherton, Jumeirah Islands, and Al Barera. Relevance has seen great success with multi-layering interest, in-market and personality targeting on top of location to pinpoint audiences even further.

Since 2016, the proportion of UHNW women has increased by some 52%, from 6.5% to 9.9%. The number of UHNW women is rising, and luxury brands should not ignore their presence.

Elite brands should train dealers, brokers, and representatives to notice UHNW women (even if a wealthy man accompanies them) and understand what makes this elite audience tick. They should also seek to employ people that UHNW women will feel comfortable with to handle their inquiries. Initiatives to embrace and encourage gender diversity, such as Rolls Royce’s 25 by 2025 gender diversity campaign, help convince UHNW women that these efforts are sincere.

It seems obvious, but this is still a significant issue for many of the world’s most elite brands, where traditional and sometimes outdated behaviours still preside. Moreover, it can be exacerbated further by regional social customs in some countries.

In Relevance’s data sample, we have found a higher proportion of UHNW women aged under 50 than over 50 (see chart below) and that the disparity is more pronounced than it is with their male counterparts. Wealth-X further backs this up by saying that the mean UHNWI age is 63, but in the under 50’s group, women make up a higher proportion of around 13%, compared to 9.9% overall.

As a result, companies selling to UHNW women need to develop their product offering and luxury brand marketing strategy clearly for both UHNW women under 50 and over 50.

Infographic 3*: Relevance Sample UHNW audiences by age and gender.

How do UHNW women describe themselves?

UHNW women balance business, family, pleasure, and philanthropy. They use keywords such as CEO, mother, founder, wife, entrepreneur, mom, fitness, mental health, foundation, and author to describe themselves, and often found and front charitable foundations, such as Beyone’s Beygood, and Lady Gaga’s Born This Way foundation.

Unlike luxury marketing to UHNW men, where business and sports analogies work in almost any situation, UHNW women need a more balanced tone of voice that puts the person before the role or status.

Companies that target ultra-wealthy women should focus on the emotional benefits that their products can provide. For example, this may include allowing UHNW women opportunities to spend time with friends and family, to have the latest new experiences or to support their philanthropic cause. Ultra-luxury brands should highlight what they are doing to give back to the community.

Don’t focus only on rational attributes alone, such as the engineering, speed, power and build of the product, as this is a very male-oriented way of appreciating things, missing the real emotional reasons why a UHNW woman engages with a product or service.

Infographic 4*: Relevance Sample UHNW women audience bio keyword tag cloud.

Who are UHNW women influenced by?

Very simply, UHNW women are influenced by other women who are like them. Pioneering businesswomen, environmental activists, work/life role models, and philanthropists like Melinda Gates, Arianna Huffington, Reshma Saujani, Susan Wojcicki, and Ann Marie Slaughter.

Pinnacle brands should avoid using ‘influencers’ who ‘look like’ luxury role models in their luxury marketing strategies as they are considered fake, one-dimensional pretenders. UHNW women aren’t interested in achieving ‘the look’ of a successful person. They are only influenced by other genuinely successful people. At Relevance, we call these “Genuinfluencers.”

The first place to look for authentic “Genuinfluencers” is in a brand’s existing customer base. Relevance can help luxury brands identify their genuinfluencers and develop collaboration ideas to reach out to influential customers and advocates.

Infographic 5*: Genuine influencers for Relevance sample UHNW women.

What digital platforms are UHNW women using?

Our sample audience of UHNW women shows that they are 20 times more likely than the average global consumer to use LinkedIn. They also have a high propensity to use Medium (x13.04), Snapchat (x9.52), Spotify (x7.69), Whatsapp (x2.38) and Twitter (x2.35). Because of this, companies like Fly Victor realize it is essential to utilize LinkedIn, and companies like Blacklane have used Medium’s business-focused environment to showcase their working ethics, humanitarian business practices, sustainability, corporate social responsibility and philanthropic endeavors when looking to attract UHNW, rather than simply focusing on the service.

UHNW women are less likely than the global average person to be using Facebook and less than half as likely to be using Instagram and Youtube. So, while elite brands can still find and target UHNW women on these platforms as part of their luxury brand marketing strategy, it’s not a ‘habitat’ that feels ‘just for them’ and therefore requires paid targeting and an extremely audience-centric creative approach to ensure their content reaches the right individuals – Patek Phillippe’s episodic approach to Instagram helps to create a befitting environment.

Infographic 6*: Propensity to use platforms for Relevance sample UHNW women.

What media are UHNW women consuming?

Relevance’s UHNW women sample are reading the New York Times (19%), Wall Street Journal (16%) and The Economist (14%) as well as The New Yorker (11%), Politico (10%), Forbes (11%) and Time (11%), Fortune (8%), Fast Company (8%), and Vogue (9%).

What places and events are UHNW women attending?

UHNW women profiled by Relevance are attending and consuming content from Vogue Runway (6%), Ted Talks (6%), Local Scale (3%), Whitney Museum (4%), Moma (4%) and Guggenheim (3%).

Unsurprisingly, according to Wealth-X, many of these places and publications are centered around New York, which has the second-highest concentration of UHNWIs after Hong Kong.

What are the interests and passions of UHNW women?

According to WealthX, UHNW women are different from their male cohorts because philanthropy ranks as the top interest for UHNW women, at least half of UHNW women are involved in philanthropic causes, whereas UHNW men are more interested in sports. At work, 20% of UHNWI heirs/heiresses work in the not-for-profit sector, compared to only 6% of self-made UHNWI. This Charities Aids Foundation article explains how UHNW women are driving a move towards more sustainable, diverse and collaborative philanthropy than ever before and how this is made possible by gender equality in entrepreneurship and inheritance laws.

The next most important interests of UHNW women include art, education, health, wellness and animals instead of the male preference for technology, aviation, and politics, and these interests are often reflected in their charitable work, such as Emma Watson’s HeForShe project and Shakira’s Barefoot foundation.

What are the personality traits of UHNW women compared to UHNW men?

Relevance have analyzed the personality traits of UHNW women to find that they are vastly more emotionally aware, loving, appreciative of art and self-transcendent than UHNW men. Therefore, UHNW women will resonate with companies who value EQ as much as IQ, such as Adoreum, an international members club for UHNWIs, philanthropists, investors and creative visionaries, who bring like-minded UHNW women together at networking events. Ultra-Luxury brands will need to double down on their art and creative collaborations, as ‘The Londoner’ West End hotel and Rolls Royce have done with their ‘Muse’ program. Since UHNW women can appreciate and resonate with the plight of others (and have the power to do something about it), the messaging for a luxury brand should focus on the collective social gain of a product or service, rather than purely the personal benefits. This might mean pledging to plant trees for every carbon-neutral private jet charter, telling the story of a hybrid, solar-powered yacht such as Nobiskrug’s Artefact, or indeed, pitching a socially responsible business idea for investment by an UHNW woman investor.

What are the personality traits of UHNW women compared to the general population?

UHNW women are more altruistic, energetic yet calm, confident, and driven than the general population. Therefore, like their male counterparts, they will appreciate luxury brands who make the celebration of good causes their number one priority, like Olivela, as well as those who curate bespoke itineraries just for them, such as Ten Group and Quintessentially. If an UHNW focused brand shows appreciation for women who like to constantly challenge themselves to learn new things, try new experiences, travel and soak up culture, as personified in this Patek Phillippe video, this will be appealing to UHNW women.

What are the top personality traits of UHNW women?

UHNW women are highly empathetic, uncompromising, sociable and outgoing, meaning they feel what others feel and are compassionate towards them, they think it is wrong to take advantage of others to try and get ahead and they enjoy the company of others and make friends easily.

As a result, Maari’s brand pillars of Consciousness, community and culture feel spot on for this audience who will reject brands called out for unfair or exploitative working practices. UHNW women may look for brands with Positive Luxury’s butterfly mark, signifying a commitment to making a difference in creating a sustainable and circular economy, and brands who support the philanthropic causes which are close to their hearts.

UHNW women: a growing minority that cannot be ignored.

UHNW women may be in the minority, but their proportion has doubled in the last few years. This fraction of the world’s population (0.0000039%) have the immense power to change the world for the better with their empathetic, altruistic, philanthropic, loving, diplomatic, and culturally appreciative approach to the world. Indeed, they expect ultra-luxury brands to be using their own power for the greater good, and not solely for commerce.

Elite luxury brands should therefore focus not only on what they produce but the way that they produce it to gain the respect and patronism of UHNW women.

Only then should luxury brands look to target and communicate with UHNW women through their platforms, media, and events of choice by using multi-layered targeting that includes postcode, demographics and triple interest targeting, engaging the right “genuinfluencers”, reviewing their luxury marketing, branding and design, and partnering up with other UHNW companies.

If you think your brand has the credentials and ethos to appeal to UHNWIs, then contact us to find out how our ultra-luxury digital marketing, advertising, and design specialists can help you reach and resonate with your UHNW audiences.

*Sources for Infographics: World wealth report, Knight Frank, Wealth X, Global Wealth Migration Review, IPSOS, Insead, Forbes, Fortune. Discrepancies are due to rounding and mixed sources.

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