Selling to the global hyper-rich
How do you sell a car that costs at least $400,000? Networking, according to Rolls-Royce’s chairman and CEO, Ian Robertson, in today’s Financial Times. Rolls-Royce’s target customer base consists of people with liquid assets of at least $30 million, which amounts to around 85,000 people worldwide. So, instead of focusing on “pushing” cars at consumers en masse ...
How do you sell a car that costs at least $400,000? Networking, according to Rolls-Royce's chairman and CEO, Ian Robertson, in today's Financial Times. Rolls-Royce's target customer base consists of people with liquid assets of at least $30 million, which amounts to around 85,000 people worldwide. So, instead of focusing on "pushing" cars at consumers en masse in the Super Bowl-style of big companies like GM or Ford, Rolls-Royce instead opts for a "soft sell" approach in tailoring to the needs (and idiosyncracies) of the hyper-rich. Through its highly-personalized dealerships, which number just 79 around the globe, Rolls-Royce chooses dealers who "live in the same world, drive the same cars, have the same yachts and aircraft" as its clients.
We’re dealing with the children of parents who have had a link with our business for years,” [Director of Rolls-Royce London Rodney] Turner says. “We like to make them feel very special.”
People who attend Rolls-Royce’s meals, he says, often transact millions of pounds worth of business that has nothing to do with cars, but which gives the events added cachet. The dealership holds about four such events a year.
The strategy seems to be working. Last year Rolls-Royce’s profits were up 10 percent even though its sales numbers were essentially flat. One client in China purchased a Rolls Phantom decked with a crystal ashtray (for his cigars), a refrigerator for champagne and space for two glass flutes for $2.2 million. In Beverly Hills, dealers sometimes cater to impulse buyers purchasing the cars on credit card.
While only a handful of people possess this kind of personal wealth, it is interesting to note that this handful of exceptionally wealthy people is growing. Forbes finds that the number of billionaires in the world increased from 476 three years ago to a record 793 this year, and for the first time, the Forbes 400 list of richest Americans was made up entirely of people with a billion in the bank. For them, a Rolls-Royce is simply pocket change.
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