Posted by: prataap | January 20, 2008

CUSTOMIZATION TREND 3: Billionaires: Meaning For Sale


Meaning For Sale

Giving It All Away

Emerging Trends:

As an increasing number of the wealthy have net worth well beyond what they can use in two lifetimes, creating money will cease to be the prime motivator. After they make their first billion and join the crowded field of  20 & 30 somethings who became  multi-millionaires overnight with their first IPO, reality sets in and they ask . What is this all about?  

Mark Cuban sold to Yahoo, made $5.7 billion and bought the Dallas Mavericks for $280 million while his partner Todd Wagner has devoted himself to “reflection” and decided to become a philanthropist.  Each one will seek meaning in a completely differently way.

While the vast majority of people will not belong to this group, the number of millionaires in the US alone is well over 5 million (NYTimes, March 2000). This will  easily double in the next 10 years and become a significant enough market for customized luxuries.   Take the current revival of old world services such as butlers, who once again are in great demand.   A good one earns upwards of $100K and there is a shortage of them.  There are even butler schools.  Interested ?  You may need an MBA to be a butler to the uber rich.  You could be managing a small empire of staff and services.This is 1900 we are reliving. Think of the railroad barons who built Newport, Rl mansions, put that thought on steroids and we have a picture of the next 20 years. Yes, there will be a few recessional bumps along the way, but remember that the super rich buy during recessions and this time around, they’ll buy more than ever.  These are new tracks being laid through new territories to an unknown frontier where big riches are to be made. Ask the billionaires of India, Russia and China.  There are over 100 million millionaires among those 3 countries alone.

Next Opportunities:

There will be renew demand for the novel, next new concepts and products like jetpack to get you across town in a hurry, or simpler products like computer chip monitors inserted in you that serve as your personal physician tailored just for you.  An air taxi service, Farnborough­ is just one of these companies with services for the average millionaire. Want to go to Dallas, meet them at the nearest small airstrip nearby to hop a ride to the nearest major hub. Or you and I can share a private jet for a few thousand a year after we get our first million. This is the original  time share concept on steroids. First it was real estate, then jets, now its Farrari and Lamborghini at sites like Next you will be able to own a piece of a 200 foot yacht, or exclusive diamond jewelry , or even a Picasso.  Create the concept and market it to the growing legions of millionaires.  

Within this broader trend lie the unique opportunities for marketing to the ultra rich. Think beyond just gadgets, toys, fleets of planes to sell to these nouveaux rich techies, but think in terms of helping them find meaning from their success.  Finding meaning is going to be a big theme in the coming decades. Meaning will be found in various ways by the many who seek it. Paul Allen the co-founder of Microsoft for example used his (Fortune 2000) net worth of $36 billion to buy an NFL football team, and an NBA basketball team. And bought other mult-million dollar toys including a 240 feet long yacht with a full time staff of 60. 

Ironically, the other tangible way of making meaning is by choosing to give it all away…now.  Thanks to the likes of Bill & Melinda Gates & Warren Buffet, philanthropy will prevail. Combined, their billion dollar foundation is simply the start of a trend. Having made themselves into billionaires, they will want to “make lasting meaning” during their  lifetime. Therein lies the big new trend opportunity. Big money, the size of a mid sized nation’s GDP will be given away, within the next 10-20  years. 

These are self-made men (alas! the men part has been slow to change) and they will find ways to leave a legacy beyond their business success. Their self made legacy is what will ultimately be their motivator, not money. Most of these billionaires of today have publicly stated that unlike the Rockefellers and the Carnegies or even the parents of the current boomer generation, these new money billionaires have no intention of leaving the vast majority of their wealth to their children!!!!

But instead they are setting up foundations in which they are involved, hands on. Bill Gates is retiring at 50 to be a full time philanthropist !! The midlife crisis? Or is it finding Jesus? Either way, their causes are specific and having become overnight millionaires, they want to see lasting results and they want the results of their philanthropy NOW.  Not after they are dead and gone. Charles Feeney founder of is commited to distributing the entire $4 billion endowment by 2020! Most of it specifically for programs that promote older adults to ” live healthy, independent lives, with dignity, purpose and meaning.” 

Here  in lies real opportunities for the various social agencies and non­profits whose budgets are being slashed by Federal and State cutbacks to get in line with the thinking and tangible results focus of this new breed of philanthropists and their very specific causes. That’s where the new social agenda is being shaped, and a lot of it is focused on global education and basic health care.

Other real opportunities exist for coaches, personal trainers, all purpose gurus ala Deepak Chopra. Spiritual leaders… with this group, the Dalai Lama’s popularity vastly surpasses that of most world leaders.  Anyone with a well packaged concept about creating meaning out of success will get their attention, so will any service or product that will simplify their busy lives so they can devote some time to seeking balance and meaning, cost is not a consideration. Think big and keep it direct with this group! 

Let your imagination run wild.

Create the future and smell the rose, it’s your move!

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