Thursday, July 30, 2015

Affluent Millennials and Luxury Guilt

If you sell luxury goods or services, it's important to understand how affluent millennials (born 1979-2000) relate to money and higher-end products. While Boomers are known for keeping up with the Joneses and Gen X is known as the “Me Generation,” millennials are actually less materialistic. Their desire for money is tied to a desire to spend time with the people they love, not on the objects they can buy. Appealing to a sense of “stuff” won’t be effective in marketing to this generation as the prestige of "having more" doesn't motivate millennials.

Millennials are generally good with money. 84% consider budgeting an important aspect of their lives, two-thirds have a financial plan for the future, 28% have enough saved to cover at least six months of living expenses, and 37% are already saving for retirement. While this generation spends $172 billion per year, they also save $39 billion per year. It's no surprise then that Groupon was founded by a millennial.

Even if a bride or groom's parents are paying for the wedding, the couple will usually be more cautious in how they spend than their parents will. Affluent Boomers tend to shop to impress, so they are more likely to give the okay for a budget increase or green light a more expensive wedding professional. Affluent millennials take more convincing.

Even though they're young, millennials already have a high earning power. Further, their mindset about wealth is different than previous generations. Most millennials who earn in the mid six-figures don't consider themselves wealthy and they describe themselves as staunchly middle class. Even the millennials who will admit they are affluent still describe themselves as having middle class values.

While millennials are close to outspending Boomers on luxury items (34% and 37%, respectively), this generation justifies luxury purchases as needs, not unnecessary splurges:

"I really need the Apple Watch because it is an investment in my health."

"I really need this expensive vacation because I've been working hard and I need to keep my stress levels balanced. It's not a frivolous splurge, it's an investment."

"I really need this piece of artwork for my house because I want to feel a certain way when I come home. It's an investment in my mental health."

"We really need these specific bridal professionals and items for our wedding because our friends and family mean so much to us and are flying all this way and we want to give them an experience they'll never forget."

If you work in the luxury wedding market, this is important: millennials do not relate to the word "luxury." Yes, they are spending on it, but to a millennial, the word luxury means "frivolous" and their wedding is anything but frivolous. It is a meaningful event and they expect it to be treated as such. Even though their budgets may fall into the high-end categories, marketing yourself as a "luxury wedding professional" does not connect with this age group as much as it did with Gen X. Furthermore, if your brand has the word luxury (or any variation of it: luxe, luxurious, etc) in your company name, you will not be connecting to this generation in a relevant, powerful way.

You may not have to change any part of your process in reaching the millennial generation, but the words you use do matter. De-luxing your language will make your marketing more relevant to this age group.

Originally published March 2012

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

People vs Strategy

The people you have in your company are more important than your strategy.

This isn't to say that strategy isn't important. It's merely a matter of not putting the cart before the horse. You can have a great strategy, but if you have a toxic company culture (which in some cases stems from toxic leadership) then all the strategy in the world will not help you.

Great strategy and the wrong people will set you up for a joyless ride. Make getting the right people on board a priority.

Originally published January 2013

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Playing Dumb

There's a current leadership trend I find disturbing: leaders downplaying their intelligence as though it's some sort of crutch rather than an asset. The disclaimers of, "Now, before you think I'm some sort of egg-head . . ." or the self-effacing, "Aw shucks, I'm no genius, I'm just one of you . . ." are becoming more common.

Well, I'm smart and I want people as smart as or smarter than I am to be leading me. So if you're going to call me dumb and then call yourself dumb, you're not someone I want to be learning from.

We can't expect perfection in people (it doesn't exist anyway) but we also shouldn't settle for false modesty. If you're smart, own it. If you're talented, own it.

There's a fine line between confidence and arrogance, but pretending to be someone or something you're not doesn't empower anyone, including yourself.

True humility doesn't hide its gifts.

PS: Being smarter doesn't mean better. Beware that ego trap.

Originally published February 2012

Monday, July 27, 2015

Organic vs Fast Food Results

Many companies and "gurus" make promises telling you they can help you grow your company with "less effort," "no sweat," or my favorite, "the 7 hidden keys no one wants you to know."

If there's any key to be found, it's to work smarter AND harder than your competitors. The best growth is organic. If you buy into fast food solutions, you're going to get fast food results.

Originally published March 2013

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Splendid Sundays Volume 190
Katie + Ken  /  Photo: Riverbend Studio
A handful of splendid finds from around the worldwide web:

How companies can help their employees accomplish major bucket list items. "What is on the list is far less interesting than the idea of living well — living the life you really want." [YNAB]

My wedding was perfect — and I was fat as hell the whole time. "As a fat woman, if you ask for help or guidance on almost any topic, what you inevitably hear is some version of 'Take up less space' . . . Can’t make your body smaller? Hide your body . . . Well, I don’t hide any more in my everyday life, and I definitely wasn’t going to hide at my wedding." [The Guardian]

Explaining graphic design to four year olds. "I was surprised by two things: how readily most of the kids understood what design was for, and how they can express things through it; and also, for someone who specialises in explaining things to a target audience, how it took me doing a talk to children, to force me to confront my own profession, and explain its value in clear terms." [Medium]

How one woman ate no processed food for an entire year. "For me, it’s thinking about where your food dollars are going. It’s less about the food than it is about the systems around the food. Try to support companies that deserve your money; go to local stores and farmers’ markets, buy from companies that have an ethos that matches your values, whatever they may be." [Bon AppĂ©tit]

Sunday Snapshot: Katie + Ken
Photography: Riverbend Studio  /  Planning + Design: Engaging Events by Ali  /  Floral: The Flower Firm  /  Venue: St. James Chapel  /  Stationery: Yellow Bird Stationery  /  Wedding Film: Xpress Video Productions  /  Music: Larry King Orchestra
See the full wedding and read their story at Style Me Pretty.