Ad Agency

Digital Marketing to the Ultra-Rich

Tom260If you’re marketing to the ultra-rich, don’t expect much of the market research conducted against “affluents” to be much help.

Occasionally, a marketer will be called upon to find ways to reach the not-merely-rich set.  Not the folks considering a Maserati automobile or a Rolex watch, but the kinds of people who might consider purchasing aircraft, or dropping ten figures on an apartment in one of NYC’s pencil towers.

When marketing to this ultra-rich fraction of the world’s elite, many of the usual observations about the $100K+ and $250K+ household income demographics tend to fall apart, and woe be to the marketer who extrapolates the merely affluent’s penchant for bargain hunting.

No, the ultra-wealthy have their own media consumption and purchasing habits that make them unique.  One of the biggest issues in selling products and services to this group is separating them from the less-affluent crowd that seek to emulate them.

Around the agency, we refer to this group as the “aspirational rich.”  For every person who might buy a $1,000 bottle of champagne, there are many more who aspire to drink it one day.  If you rely on the old methods of digital marketing that might lead you down the path toward sponsoring relevant content, you might find your campaign’s success metrics lagging as you reach many more aspirational types than actual potential consumers.

A quote commonly attributed to John Steinbeck speaks to a proclivity for less-affluent Americans to think of themselves as “temporarily embarrassed millionaires.”  Whether or not Steinbeck actually said it is in dispute, but what’s clear to anyone who has spent time trying to focus digital campaigns on the ultra-rich, is that the less-affluent can, from all outward appearances, behave much like the ultra-rich when it comes to consuming content or making use of digital utilities.  Teasing out who can afford things, like one-of-a-kind supercars or custom motor yachts, can thus become a chore.

But the ultra-wealthy have some key attributes that can help you develop digital campaigns to reach them:

Social Connection

Birds of a feather flock together, and this is especially true of the ultra-rich set.  Whether it’s wanting to connect with their economic peers or simply discuss lifestyle, a number of communities have sprung up to service the affluent exclusively.  They’re not huge, scale-wise, but remember that we’re dealing with an elite that is small in number.

List Marketing

E-mail can be a valuable ally, particularly with a list management company that keeps HHI information at a more granular level than simply “$250K+.”  Open rates may not approach typical industry averages, but if you can break through the clutter, direct marketing can be a winning channel.

Remember, too, that list brokers often offer offline direct mail as well.  Something dimensional – on the order of a piece that’s NOT a #12 envelope – can break through the typical deluge of junk mail and deliver sales.


Targeting affluent ZIP codes can help minimize media waste.  Even better?  Smaller, more affluent ZIP+4s.  Geofencing, too, can be used to creative ends to help identify the ultra-rich in mobile.  Fencing off exclusive areas of town, or even individual structures can help.  See someone consistently coming and going from one of those multimillion-dollar pencil towers, for instance?


Of course, marketing to the ultra-rich is more about delivering experiences they will be happy with.  For that, your product and creative teams need to be closely aligned.  However, we can take some of the mystery out of reaching the ultra-rich through digital media with some finely-honed tactics.