5 Steps to Discovering the Ideal Client Persona for Your High-End Brand

Being sure of who you are as a brand gives you the power to thrive in the luxury market.

learn more about Marilisa Barbieri

By Marilisa Barbieri

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One morning, an Upper East Side lady showed up in my office with some unique makeup. Later on, she explained the makeup was inspired by the raccoon she saw the night before in the backyard of her townhouse. The creature looked so cute that she decided to pay homage with her makeup for the day. As an heiress, she lived in a bubble most of her life with few relationships with the outside world. She suits the ideal customer profile for the brand I represented at the time. I remember many other singular anecdotes about my clients that fit the so-called "customer avatar".

Defining the customer avatar for your brand is a fundamental step you need to take to promote and sell your product and solution to the right clients. The right niche of customers is the one that would realize the most value from your product and from which your success and business growth depend.

You want to get clear about who is interested in what you offer. If you're trying to sell to the masses or the wrong segment of customers — you will never achieve the desired results. That's why understanding your customer avatar is fundamental.

An avatar is a hypothetical person who has the same needs, aspirations, passions and wants as the customer you want to reach.

With a defined avatar, it's easier to create ad-hoc communication and marketing strategies for your customers. Resonating and connecting with your audience is the first step to take if you want to drive conversions.

In a standard business model, the starting point is a problem that you want to solve with your product and service. In a luxury business model, you start by creating a new universe for the niche target. By creating a new reality, your high-end brand will represent an agent of transformation and be highly differentiated from the rest.

Don't aim to sell to the generic 1% of the population. Be specific: Among high-net-worth individuals, there are sub-niches of luxury customers to choose from. Do you want to sell to the young and successful Silicon Valley entrepreneurs, to more mature investors in these companies, or both? In luxury home furnishing, it is clear that even if both entrepreneurs and investors have disposable income, only the investors are interested in silver-plated flatware, crystal flutes and certain home decor.

Related: Why the Solution to Fast Fashion Might Be Luxury Goods

Lifestyle coding as a customer profiling method

If you want a product or service to be successful, first you need to become an expert in your clients' lifestyle and a master at embodying their lifestyle into beautifully crafted products and services. You need to understand the type of experiences your customers crave, as well as the people, places and things that motivate and inspire them.

It's not simply a compilation of their demographic data with some key "interests" and "likes"— it's understanding your consumers fully as an anthropologist would understand a culture. Once that is determined, it's about inserting your brand — not necessarily the product — into that culture so brand and products become key contributors to the consumer's way of life.

Lifestyle coding means studying the way of life of your targeted niche to discover the profile of your ideal client. For instance, if you come across a person who loves racing, then they are also likely to be interested in stylish car accessories, vintage vehicles, sailing and racing clubs.

Related: 5 Tips for Selling Luxury Products on Facebook and Instagram

5 Steps to defining your ideal customer persona

There are five steps to defining the profile of your ideal customer persona. The more specific details you can learn about your target customer, the more opportunities you have to authentically engage with them. Get a clear understanding of your niche and know where the customers are and what they crave. When you find the right customers, you can sell to them anytime.

1. Identify the customer avatar segment

Identify a distinct segment, like a group of people or a group of businesses. For example, a group of people can have the same lifestyles, aspirations or interests. A group of companies running a similar business could include industries like private aviation, luxury yachting and Michelin Star Restaurants. The idea is to think of an existing customer who's a perfect fit and develop your customer avatar around this person.

2. Describe in detail the customer avatar

Once you've determined the segment you want to target, you need to source as many details as possible and become an expert at understanding your ideal clients. Collect information such as age, gender, income, job title, marital status, location, kids, habits, hobbies and anything relevant to your business.

3. Wants and aspirations

The third step in defining your customer avatar is finding out what your customers desire for themselves and the people around them. Think of how you help them realize their aspirations and goals. Can you give them something that transforms their lives?

4. Key purchase drivers

What is most important to your customers in your product or service? Is it the quality expectation or a feature? Is it the expectations in terms of customer service? Look at who's involved in the decision to purchase the product and possible buying objections.

5. The "before" and "after" state

In the last step, think about how your product or service will transform the lives of your customers. What is your avatar experiencing before and after purchasing your product? How does the ideal client feel before and after? How did the prospect's lifestyle change after the purchase?

Once the customer avatar is in place, the brand message should be crafted based on your ideal customers' needs, aspirations and wants.

A luxury brand doesn't aim its product at the masses, which is why you need to identify a niche segment and target your product towards it. The clarity in the desired outcome will determine the success of your business.

Related: The Rise Of Responsible Luxury

Marilisa Barbieri

Business Consultant, Luxury Brand Expert & Educator

A luxury-business expert with an MBA and interior design and arts degree, Marilisa Barbieri helps companies elevate their brand value and increase sales of design service by revealing proven sales strategies employed by top luxury brands.

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