HONG KONG: Information and data are key to reaching consumers, but at the luxury end of the market such concerns take on a whole new dimension that might alarm privacy campaigners.

The typical ultra-high-net-worth individual (UHNWI) "doesn't respond to traditional marketing initiatives," according to Jean-Luc Gustave, APAC vp/business development for luxury at Wealth-X, a wealth intelligence service. "You can't just send an email to the richest man in Asia and hope to engage him.

"Knowing someone perfectly means not just knowing his money but who he is," Gustave explained at an event reported by Campaign Asia-Pacific.

Who tops the 2015 Warc 100?

Read the 2015 Warc 100 summary to discover the world's
top-performing advertisers, brands and agencies.
"If I was a wealthy person in Hong Kong, with a son who has just graduated from Harvard,your job is to know that," he elaborated. "It might be your opportunity to approach me very personally.

"Perhaps I might be considering buying a house in London or a car to celebrate his graduation – it's your chance to connect to my reality, and if you don't know that you have lost the perfect opportunity."

Gustave further suggested that the best way to sell to such people may often involve an oblique approach that skirts around the brand itself.

He gave the example of an aviation business which identified 50 people attending a conference who possessed sufficient funds to buy a private jet. 

When it became apparent that most of these individuals were also interested in fashion, the aviation firm partnered with a luxury fashion brand to host an event, which attracted 40 of the 50 targets and led on to five plane sales.

Companies at the very top end of the market need to build relationships that are more than purely transactional and that requires a good knowledge of the individual.

But, added Gustave, chances were being regularly missed. A fairly frequent occurrence, he said, was a woman rushing into a luxury brand store in Hong Kong's Tsim Sha Tsui, desperate to find an accessory for a gala dinner in a few hours' time.

A couple of assistants help her find what she wants, she buys it and leaves.

"She has just spent HK$1.5m in the shop in under 20 minutes and because shop assistants are often too polite to ask questions, no-one knows who she is," said Gustave.

Data sourced from Campaign Asia-Pacific; additional content by Warc staff