Finding the Right Affluent Buyers for Fractional Ownership

By Lawrence Hefler Principal, Hefler International | May 19, 2010

Successful fractional ownership projects today are often characterized by authenticity, enrichment, and sustainability more so than just "luxury" - which is clearly an overused term. With price points ranging from $100K to one million dollars, they will most likely be purchased by more of the "super affluent." But it is more than just income and assets. It's also about inner life and their propensity to indulge in a preferred lifestyle that their wealth allows.

Let's call them the right affluent. If generally speaking, the right affluent are potential buyers of fractional products, then you need to know something about their lifestyle and consumer behaviors compared to the mass affluent... If you are personally in this group, you will relate, if you are not personally in this group, you have to believe that you are in it. From these observations, your branding, marketing, and sales approach will become that much more relevant.

In a recent study by Packaged Facts across all affluent groups, there were some findings that tell a lot about how the super affluent are different than the mass affluent. There were particular findings related to demographics, consumer behaviors, and leisure time that give us some insights.

  1. The super affluent are primarily found along the coasts, in very large cities, and a handful of metro areas dominate the market. They are politically involved and socially engaged.
  2. They focus on staying young and keeping fit, fashion and specialty stores are drivers, they go out more often, and organic foods entice them. They are inveterate travelers and are tied to the Internet
  3. They are willing to pay full price to buy what they want when they want it! From a branding perspective, it about offering differentiated, authentic vacation and destination experiences; communicated by relevant and emotional messages and stories. Sales success comes from those places that have a really good story to tell. That good story, so to speak, is inevitably based on guest and internal staff experiences.

Whether a project is in already in existence or just an idea, you want to have experiences and stories for your message. Then you need to share it with your social and business networks and then the networks that will connect to the right affluent groups.

With a powerful story the network grows among friends and associates. Stories quite often they happen naturally...At the same time, you always need to talk to customers and prospects...maintain a dialog and get feedback... this is often the material for stories. Having internal people embrace your brand and the product and be well trained in the essence of fractional ownership lifestyles. It's not a timeshare message. It's not a real estate message. It's not psychological message, and it's certainly not a financial investment message.

The message comes from a different mindset that requires a balance of emotion, education, and relevance. You do need to have the psychological insights into the mindset of a luxury consumer. Only by understanding the super affluent consumer's underlying psychology can you tailor your marketing messages. When consumers look at similar offerings (expressed in features and benefits) within fractional ownership or even destination clubs, they hear things like ski in/ski out, oceanfront, 2100 square feet, million dollar homes, exchange around the world...

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