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Seven Ways to Woo the 'Aspirational' Luxury Customer

by Suzanne Hader  |  
November 18, 2008

Ongoing economic uncertainty has made "aspirational" luxury customers—affluent and middle-income consumers willing to pay more for high-end goods and services—more selective about what they purchase than ever.

Aspirationals are aggressively prioritizing discretionary spending, purchasing a select few emotionally charged luxury items but buying everything else at mass or "masstige" outlets.

Companies that want to continue to profit from aspirational customers must make their brands accessible and relevant to them by taking their lifestyles into consideration and meeting them half way.

Aspirational customers come from all areas and walks of life: the affluent stay-at-home mom who plans five-star vacations and Target shopping trips with equal enthusiasm; the student who gives up daily Frappuccinos to save $200 for a pair of jeans; the bartender who won't settle for less than $300 sunglasses but lives in a spartan studio apartment.

Purchasing brands that the upper crust knows and respects provides aspirationals with feelings of success and status—even if they cannot afford the items they most covet or maintain the long-term spending pattern of the full-fledged luxury customer.

Here are seven tips to draw out aspirationals, just in time for the holidays.

1. Ramp up customer service

Make service seamless—in-store, over the phone and online. Great service—a must-have for this group—reassures aspirationals that they have made a good decision and spent their money well. It is also what compels them to open their wallets again and again.

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Suzanne Hader is principal of 400twin (, a New York City-based consulting firm that provides research and strategic direction for luxury brands. She can be reached at

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  • by Linda Jenkins Wed Nov 26, 2008 via web

    This is very helpful to me as a high end interior designer. It reinforces my decision not to market to the masses but shoot for the uber-class.


  • by jP Kuehlwein Wed Dec 26, 2012 via web

    Take above advice #2! 3 or 6 too far and you are reducing the attractiveness of your brand as a prestige-lending item (which is what most aspirers buy most 'luxury' branded items for). Prestige is projected by NOT being available, accessible or understood by everyone. Luxury is about the rare, the unexpected and/or extraordinary. A pinch of arrogant connoisseurship, being out of stock or requiring to wait to receive the good can't hurt when it comes to desirability. So giving a glimpse of the incredible craftsmanship with which your cognac is made works to create your brand legend. Showing too much of what is happening behind the scenes risks 'bursting the bubble', however. If a Birkin bag, Panerai watch or Maison Bonnet glasses were easily accessible and merchandised in an everyday context, people would not pay half of what they do to get them. They wouldn't be much to show off with. Now, the reach-down 'masstige' extensions or brands can't take it that far. They need quantity sales. But perceptions of some form of rarety and barrier to access will still be important to maintain a price point That is significantly above mass brands. Rread more about the fine art of prestige branding at

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