We’ve been hearing a lot about the ‘scooping out’ of the center of the marketplace. We’re told that the middle class is in a state of perpetual freefall. Most people are being squeezed toward the bottom of the economic ladder, while a few more fortunate individuals have become very wealthy indeed.
Here’s an article from Salon that puts it bluntly: The Death of the Middle Class.
As marketers, we often forget just how important this transition is. But there were two recent articles in the Times that made me pay attention. The first was regarding a new way to fly from Etihad Airways. Instead of being squeezed into ever-tighter coach space with the 99.75%, now you can soar above the clouds in your very own three-room suite, complete with bed, shower and butler. The price is a mere $20,000. Each way.
Coincidentally, there’s currently a four year waiting list for the Gulfstream G650 business jet, which costs about $65 million – without interior design. How would you like to have a four year waiting list for your product?
Next up is the new magazine DuJuor. According to the Times, subscribers must meet at least five of these criteria in order to subscribe: Net worth of $5 million or higher. A house worth over $1.5 million. Average annual income over $250,000. Liquid assets of $1 million or more. Online annual purchases of at least $10,000. Annual philanthropic donations of at least $10,000. I don’t think I’ll be seeing DuJour in my mailbox anytime soon.
It appears that we are rapidly heading toward a world of products for the masses, available at a nearby Wal-Mart, CostCo, Burger King, Target, GM, eBay, Starbucks or Amazon. And on the other side of the coin, luxury experiences for the ultra wealthy. Until the revolution arrives, this means making a relatively simple decision. How do you want to position your brand? And keep in mind that the one or two passengers flying in the $20K suite on Etihad arrive at the very same time as everyone else.