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The New Elite

By Jim Taylor, Doug Harrison and Stephen Kraus

*A Book Review*

by Michael C. Gray

© 2012 by Michael C. Gray

When most of us think of the wealthy in America, we think of Wall Street bankers and executives from the automotive manufacturers who flew in their corporate jets to Washington, D.C. to ask for corporate bailouts. We might also think of high-profile, wealthy heiresses like Paris Hilton and Nicole Ritchie.

The facts are that the wealthy in America mostly don't fit the "fat cat" image once portrayed in "Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous" and aren't interested in that lifestyle. Many of them view luxury items as a waste of money. Those who inherited their wealth are a tiny minority. Most of the wealthy earned their wealth themselves, have middle-class values and want to pass those values on to their children. And, I'm sorry, 95% of wealthy individuals say they are happy.

The authors of The New Elite are market researchers. They initially developed their profile of wealthy families in partnership with Curtco Media, publishers of Worth magazine and the Robb Report. Later they partnered with American Express Publishing, publishers of Travel + Leisure, Food & Wine, Departures, Travel + Leisure Golf, and Executive Travel. They are also consultants to many companies that sell luxury merchandise.

The profile was developed using surveys and interviews of thousands of families.

Since the 1970s, our population has made huge demographic shifts. The middle class has shrunk and the wealthy and poor classes have grown.

About one-third of individuals with discretionary income exceeding $124,000 said their wealth came from their own business and another third earned their wealth in someone else's business. Only about 4% inherited their wealth. About one-third said their key to success was hard work and 31% said it was perseverance and dedication, or about two-thirds total for "blood, sweat and tears." About 15% said that luck was important.

The authors emphasize the importance of passion for the wealthy. They are passionate about their businesses, making a contribution to society, their families, and their interests. A key to selling to them is to discover their areas of passion. That's where they are willing to spend more to reward themselves. A woman might enjoy a fine Prada purse. A man might enjoy classic cars.

For routine needs, the wealthy often shop at Target, Costco and WalMart, and many of them are shopping online.

The wealthy experience a maturing process. Initially, they are very conservative and afraid they will lose their wealth. With time, they become more comfortable with their wealth, take more investment risks and give more for charitable interests.

Since 5% of our population has about 60% of the assets in our country, it's important to understand this group from a marketing standpoint. Politically, our leaders and we as citizens need to better understand this influential group and their values. Read The New Elite.

Buy it on Amazon: The New Elite: Inside the Minds of the Truly Wealthy.

For our new reviews of business and self-improvement books, subscribe to our newsletter, Michael Gray, CPA's Tax & Business Insight!

Want to know how to sell products and services to the wealthy? They may not be who you think they are. Read The New Elite by Jim Taylor, Doug Harrison, and Stephen Kraus to find out who the wealthy in America really are for insights on how to approach them with your marketing message.


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Michael Gray, CPA
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San Jose, California 95128
(408) 918-3162
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