THE BLOG
12/19/2013 05:29 pm ET | Updated Feb 18, 2014

The Power of Panache

For decades I have studied brands, marketing concepts and case studies of innovative companies. Each year I learn more about customer perception and how important it really is in developing strategies and creative campaigns for sales and marketing. It really doesn't matter what marketers do to drive sales if we don't have our finger on the pulse of the customer and understand what they think about our products and services. Do you know if your brand evokes an emotional response or any response at all? Does it have a certain aura about it? Hmm, if you haven't thought about that, it's time to start.

Selling The Dream

When I was working for Australian yacht manufacturer Riviera, we took great pride in knowing our customer so well that we all could say we were "selling the dream." Every employee knew exactly what it meant and the reason behind it. When I first heard this quote from Stephen Milne, Director of Brand Communications, I thought it was rather odd at first, but then as I learned the brand attributes and underlying meaning behind them, "Selling the dream" made perfect sense. He was right.

As we sold our premium luxury yachts around the world, our customers were truly buying a dream, a lifestyle, and a standard of living that makes them feel above and beyond anything else on the planet. As a brand, that's a great position to be in. Luxury brands have the benefit of possessing certain panache about them that other brands simply don't have. Riviera is one of those panache potent brands.

Find The Panache

How do marketers find Panache and weave it into our brand attributes, sales and marketing strategy? More importantly, how do we get our customers to believe that it's true? These are tough questions to answer, but they are certainly valid. To begin, we must first offer an incredible product that's exclusive and other companies just don't offer. Next, we must begin to instill the brand promise and attributes into the hearts and minds of the customers and equally as important, the employees. That is a lengthy process, but can be expedited if your brand is impeccable in service delivery and offers something that makes your customer base feel extra special and connected. It does help if your brand is offering a product or service that caters to the affluent audience and is innovative in the market segment. If you're selling the dream like we were, being innovative probably means your customer is not only researching and comparing, but also dreaming about purchasing your product. Lastly, in order to deliver on our promises as marketers we cannot over-promise and under deliver on value. Nothing kills panache more than that.

How Does A Brand Market To The Affluent?

We know that affluent consumers are extremely discerning. You can't "sell" them something. It is more effective to be a highly educated and savvy business marketer that meets the consumer where they are in the buying process. That means, you have to show them you are a thought leader. Forbes.com stated exactly this in their article, Marketing Luxury to the Super Rich.

One of the most efficacious approaches is for the luxury marketer to become a thought leader.

We see that the greatest benefit for a luxury marketer for being a thought leader is when the offerings are relatively complex and there are a number of comparable providers. Examples of these types of luxury products include cars, jets, yachts, fine art and even jewelry and watches.

Now you know some examples of a few Industries that elevate the panache meter and go well beyond the norm in style, let's take a look at some data that talks about marketing to the affluent. Recently, the Shullman Research Center produced a study that revealed some interesting data about marketing to the affluent audience.

· 76 percent of luxury prospects earning more than $250,000 prefer magazines over website advertising
· 72 percent of luxury prospects earning more than $500,000 prefer magazines over website advertising

As a marketer for over 25 years, I never would have imagined these percentages were possible. I have seen magazines used quite prolifically in the luxury yachting and automobile industries, however, I did not think the statistics would be so favorable for magazines over website advertising. Hmm, guess we learn something every day.

Panache Defined

Panache is defined by Google as "flamboyant confidence of style or manner." I know this sounds like a perfect description of an Aston Martin automobile, a Trinity Yacht, or a Giorgio Armani suit. However, if I were to guess, I would think that a few of the 25 brands listed in America's 25 Biggest Advertisers List would probably say they fit the same flamboyant confidence of style or manner just like the affluent brands do. What do you think?

What Do Others Think About Panache?

In order to get some instant opinions, I asked a few friends to give me their thoughts on which brands from the America's 25 Biggest Advertisers list should make the cut and be listed as possibly panache potential. Believe it or not, there were only two brands in the list of 25 that were even considered to be "somewhat worthy." No, they didn't pass the panache potency test. They were honorable mentions. Can you tell which ones were selected? I will give you a hint, I am using one of them as I type this blog. The other can be found in the women's department at Neiman Marcus.

Is Panache Only Reserved For The Affluent?

If you were to survey a thousand brands, I think a high percentage of them would say that they could potentially fit into the realm of possessing panache. I do think that panache is really only reserved for the affluent and the mega-rich. Let's face it, how many times do you hear the word panache as you walk through the mall or at the grocery store? Ah, none. Okay, there's your answer. Have a pleasant panached day!