October 30, 2019
Researching UHNWIs via Intermediaries
UHNWIs can be challenging research subjects."
As the number of wealthy consumers around the world continues to grow, there is increasing focus on those at the very top, often called Ultra-High Net Worth Individuals (UHNWIs).
Not only is this group growing faster than the wealthy as a whole, they are also increasingly the most attractive target for luxury brands and wealth managers who are looking to move further upmarket and cater increasingly to fewer, but higher-spending, individuals.
Even for the wealth team here at Savanta, who specialise in engaging and understanding the wealthy, UHNWIs remain an audience that are exceptionally difficult to engage directly for research. To interview them, we need to be discussing something that the individual is really passionate about (philanthropy and cars are probably the easiest to work with). We also need to be prepared to travel wherever the individual is, at a time that suits them, often with multiple cancellations before actually getting their time. This makes interviewing them more costly than most clients are prepared to accept.
We have also found that UHNWIs can be challenging research subjects. They rarely allow you to lead the conversation, they hate being cut short when telling a story, and interviews can often end abruptly after 15 minutes. We have also found that they often have a carefully constructed external persona (many are in the public eye) and their views and responses within a research framework can be skewed by heightened self-reflection and post-rationalisation.
Yet many prestige brands recognise the acute need to understand this audience better and market research will give you accurate and rich qualitative and ethnographic insights into UHNWIs. This is the only way to truly understand what they want, and how to engage them.
With over ten years of experience, our wealth team has built a network of individuals who advise, work for, and support the world’s UHNWIs. These range from supercar dealers to super-yacht skippers, personal assistants to private jet captains, art advisors to interior designers, and from stylists to fashion ateliers.
By interviewing people who work daily with a number of UHNWIs we can obtain perspective across multiple individuals in this segment through one interview, facilitating thematic understanding and insight. We can also gain insights that are borne out of many hours of observation and interaction, in much the same way as ethnographic research delivers. Such insight, being observed, is not biased by the often carefully curated self-reflection of direct responses from UHNWIs themselves.
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