PROFILE: THE WEALTHY

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Today's wealthy Americans are a diverse group in gender, race, age and interests. Arguably, the only thing they may have in common is their high incomes.

Numbers

Between 1990 and 1992, the percentage of households with an income of $75,000 and over, in constant 1992 dollars, has essentially remained steady, at about 11%.

This group includes representatives of all adult ages, but perhaps not surprisingly they're most prevalent among those age 45 to 54. Some 20.4% of households headed by someone age 45 to 54 have an income over $75,000, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

Psychographics

The wealthy may have money in common, but they see themselves differently, especially when it comes to buying a car. The young successful affluent person may be active and get a thrill from driving and adventure. The aging baby boomer with a small, growing family may be more interested in safety and room. The older wealthy may be retired early and looking for a luxurious, utilitarian way to get to and from the club.

Selling to them

Because today's affluent car buyers are so diverse, one blanket ad theme will not cover this group. Instead, marketers should zero in on each consumer subset. If you have a sport utility vehicle, market it as the luxury vehicle of the '90s. If you have a sedan, offer numerous messages: safety, value (but not price), luxury and styling.

Also be willing to sponsor events where the wealthy congregate. Aside from breaking through the media clutter, sponsorships bring the marketer into some aspect of a consumer's interest. And at the dealership, service is essential. Service includes everything from salesman treatment to dependable repairs. They know exactly what they want and they can buy it.

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