Data, Data Everywhere, But What Do All Those Numbers Mean?

Pam Danziger

I recently received a white paper from a well-respected research firm where I was quoted along with a lot of the other heavy-gun researchers in the luxury market space. The paper had an impressive title and promised to reveal affluent U.S. consumers and how they behave, all in 15 pages of content. So I eagerly opened it up and found the bulk of each page was a chart, table or graph. Many of the charts had the same overall format and similar labels, but with different data points plugged in. Frankly, my eyes glazed over. There were 24 charts, nearly two per page and most of the space on each page was devoted to data. I couldn’t see the forest for the trees. What did all those numbers really tell me? Not much.

So I did a little analysis of my own. In total there were 6,873 words including data. The exact break down was 4,883 words and 1,990 numbers and data points. The breakdown was 71.1% words to 28.9% data, which didn’t seem out of line. But then I dug a little deeper and discovered that there was on average 203 words devoted to explaining each of the 24 charts (i.e. 203 words *24 charts = 4,883 words.) I don’t know about you, but it is hard to explain a complex subject like affluent consumer behavior in the U.S. in 24 chunks of 203 words each. My consolation in this white paper was that I only contributed commentary, not data.

Get Inspired

Data gives people a sense of security that they know the score — But understanding the customer takes more than a lot of charts, tables and graphs

It seems to me that all this data is designed simply to give people a sense of security. In effect, one says, “I got the data, so I must have the answer.” The fact is you may have all the numbers in the world displayed in neat charts, tables and graphs which slice and dice the data every which way, but ultimately what do all those numbers add up to? Those numbers don’t really tell marketers what they need to know, and that is what is really going on in the mindset of the affluent consumer, how they feel, what their problems are, what they worry about at night and how that ultimately translates into their lives as consumers of goods and services. People get a lot of confidence (false confidence, I should add) out of having every data point at their fingertips. But all those numbers don’t tell you what you as a marketer must do to reach the customer.

For example, that 64% of high-income internet users learn about new brands and products from their friends and family is interesting, but how do you translate that into specific marketing strategies and tactics. I know, the simple answer is “social media,” but which ones, how much should a company invest, what messages should be conveyed via social media, and where does one begin? And how to get heard above the noise on social media, since every other brand is after the attention of the high-income targets’ friends and family.

Take Action

What you really need to know about the affluent consumer in the U.S. today

True consumer insights come through the understanding of three different perspectives:

• Demographics – The facts and figures that define the size and objective facts about the target market.

• Psychographics – The attitudes and motivations that are found within the target market.

• Purchase Behavior – As past behavior is a key predictor of future behavior, how consumers buy and shop; how much they spend; and what influences their purchase decision are important.

Unity Marketing offers a variety of solutions suitable to the individual marketers’ needs and budget to gain actionable insights into the U.S. affluent consumer and how they behave.

Dig Deep: A deep and detailed analysis of these three perspectives can be found in Unity Marketing’s annual Luxury Report: The Ultimate Guide to the Luxury Consumer Market. At 266 pages, it is a weighty tome worthy of the scope of the subject.

Get an Overview: But for those who want a distilled-down version, Unity Marketing’s latest trend report, Meet the HENRYs: Positioning for the High-Earners-Not-Rich-Yet Mass Affluent Consumer, examines in detail the most important demographic distinctive for affluent marketers, which is income with two key segments identified as HENRYs ($100k-$249.9k) and the top 2% Ultras ($250k and above) and gives new understanding to the five different personalities that make up the U.S. affluent consumer market each with their own special take on what luxury means to them.

By understanding the demographics of affluents, luxury marketers will know who has the available discretionary income to afford luxuries. With insights into the personalities and their motivations toward a luxury lifestyle, marketers will gain even more valuable insights into the willingness of those with the money to spend on luxury.

Bring It into Focus: Because luxury purchases are made across at least 21 different categories of goods and services, each with its own unique purchase pattern, Unity Marketing offers Luxury Snapshot Reports that give marketers basic purchase behavior data in each luxury category. Each Snapshot report gives the facts about who is buying, what they are buying, where they are buying and how much they are spending.

Create a Customized Strategic Plan: Let Unity Marketing help you devise a unique strategic marketing plan for your business that links target customer demographics, psychographics and purchase behavior to optimize growth and reach. Email or call (717) 336-1600.

Unity Marketing’s business is helping marketers that target the high-end, affluent consumer to find their special customers, understand their behavior and psychology so that you can market successfully to them. We try not to inundate and overwhelm with numbers, though data is an important part of our work. But rather than just giving you a bunch of charts, tables and graphs full of data, we work to interpret the data into insights and information that you can put to use immediately to market more effectively.

Our goal is to offer actionable strategies for luxury marketers across a wide range of industries and product or service types. Together, we can prepare for the uncertainties that lie ahead for luxury marketers.

Pam Danziger is president of Unity Marketing, a marketing consulting firm that serves consumer-product businesses.. Copyright 2014, author retains ownership. All Rights Reserved.

Print page