If your impressions of the affluent were based on the ads, TV spots and brochures produced by banks and wealth managers, you might assume that the reasons affluent people invest are simple and unvarying: to save for retirement, send their kids to college, provide for loved ones, travel the world.
But the affluent save and invest for reasons that are significantly more varied and complex than that. Like other demographic groups, they are driven by powerful emotional needs and concerns: Fear. Obligation. Self-esteem. Hope. Yet these are rarely if ever addressed in financial services advertising and marketing communications, which are typically based on a set of “fundamental truths” about investors. This approach costs financial firms an opportunity to connect with clients on a deeper level.
Other industries, of course, have long understood that consumer behavior is grounded in more emotional triggers. Beer isn’t just a beverage—it’s a way to connect with friends or a reward for a hard day’s work. And to the person who can afford it, a $15,000 Birkin handbag is more than just a leather-and-satin carryall.
So what can financial services companies learn from this?
First, they can embrace the idea of creating marketing messages that truly resonate with their clients. But that will take more than a quick online survey that pops up when customers log in to their accounts. Getting below the surface will require a commitment to robust consumer research, a feedback mechanism for gathering insights from the front line, and a systematic approach to monitoring social media, where the affluent express their opinions every day.
It’s not an easy fix, and the benefits may not materialize overnight. But those companies that look beyond the obvious “fundamental truths” about the affluent will be the ones best positioned to capture clients for life.