Corporate Eye

Luxury Brands Shouldn’t Give Up Traditional Media Yet

money affluent richIf you’re marketing a luxury brand to affluent consumers, then you might not want to follow all of the reports and statistics that say traditional media is dying or that investing in television, newspaper, and print ads is a waste of money. According to the Reaching the Wealthy Consumer report from Shullman Research Center, consumers with a net worth that exceeds $1 million are still very engaged with traditional media.

In fact, according to the report, traditional media channels rank first, second, third, and fifth in terms of reach among high net worth consumers in the United States. Television had the highest overall reach of any platform among affluent consumers for the 30 days leading up to the online study (August 20-27, 2013).

Here are rankings of reach among affluent Americans for each of the advertising channels studied:

  1. Television
  2. Websites
  3. Direct mail sent to consumers’ homes
  4. Print magazines
  5. Print newspapers
  6. Email messages
  7. Radio
  8. Facebook
  9. In brick-and-mortar stores
  10. Billboards
  11. Smartphones
  12. Movie theaters
  13. Online newspapers
  14. YouTube
  15. Shopping malls
  16. Gas stations
  17. Online magazines
  18. Tablets
  19. Twitter
  20. Medical offices

When it comes to the engagement rates for these ads, the percentage of affluent consumers who have seen ads and were actually interested in those ads shows a different ranking than the reach rankings. This is particularly in terms of the first place finisher—printed newspapers—which ranked in eighth place based on reach alone.

Here are the top 10 engagement rankings:

  1. Print newspapers
  2. Online newspapers
  3. Twitter
  4. Medical offices
  5. Shopping malls
  6. YouTube
  7. Online magazines
  8. Radio
  9. Print magazines
  10. Facebook
  11. Television
  12. Email messages (tied for 12th)
  13. In brick-and-mortar stores (tied for 12th)
  14. Smartphones (tied for 12th)
  15. Tablets (tied for 12th)
  16. Websites
  17. Direct mail to consumers’ homes
  18. Movie theaters
  19. Billboards
  20. Gas stations

While it might seem at first glance that the data is telling brand marketers to focus heavily on traditional media channels without shifting significant amounts of marketing budgets to digital advertising, a closer look tells us something different. In comparison to American consumers earning less than $1 million per year, affluent consumers are far more likely to have seen (or heard) ads on websites and in printed newspapers followed by on smartphones and in online newspapers. Clearly, mobile and digital channels drive engagement among high net worth audiences, but those engagement levels are a bit different from less affluent consumers who are more likely to have seen (or heard) ads on Facebook and YouTube than affluent consumers are.

Bottom-line, if you’re marketing a luxury brand, then you need to keep a sizable amount of your marketing budget in traditional media channels like television, print newspapers, and print magazines to not only raise brand awareness but also to communicate messages that enhance brand trust among the affluent consumer audience.

Furthermore, you should be testing digital advertising options in online newspapers, online magazines, and so on to determine which digital and new media channels are most effective for your brand and audience. The affluent audience is very different from any other audience. Purchase decisions for luxury brands are unlike any other type of brand. As a luxury brand marketer, you know this. Don’t do your luxury brand a disservice by relying on studies, reports, and statistics that don’t clearly segment the affluent audience from other audience segments. The results won’t be reliable. In fact, the results will probably be very wrong for your brand and your customers.

Image: Jenny W.

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Susan Gunelius is the author of 10 marketing, social media, branding, copywriting, and technology books, and she is President & CEO of KeySplash Creative, Inc., a marketing communications company. She also owns Women on Business, an award-wining blog for business women. She is a featured columnist for and, and her marketing-related articles have appeared on websites such as,,, and more. She has over 20 years of experience in the marketing field having spent the first decade of her career directing marketing programs for some of the largest companies in the world, including divisions of AT&T and HSBC. Today, her clients include large and small companies around the world and household brands like Citigroup, Cox Communications, Intuit, and more. Susan is frequently interviewed about marketing and branding by television, radio, print, and online media organizations, and she speaks about these topics at events around the world. You can connect with her on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, or Google+.