Lorre White lives and works in a special place in the world of luxury that she created for herself. To most people she is the “The Luxury Guru,” an international media personality who shares her expertise on the luxury lifestyle and luxury marketing.
However, White also works as a marketing consultant for companies who target Ultra High Net Worth consumers—the 2 percent of the population that controls half of the world’s wealth. Through her company, White Light Consulting, she provides a range of services that include branding, strategic planning and executive training.
It’s a combination that has worked for White for a number of years. As attitudes about luxury become more democratic and social media brings people closer to the brands, her formula for reaching UHNW individuals, luxury marketers and aspirational luxury consumers becomes even more powerful.
“My unique niche is reaching the world’s wealthiest demographic,” she says of her work as a luxury marketing consultant. “My clients are luxury brands that have products and services to sell that require a certain level of wealth to purchase them. Things like a $60 million yacht, or a $120 million private jet. In my consulting work it is not the buyer that I am working with; it is the companies that need to know how to reach and maintain this small and difficult demographic.”
This is also a changing demographic. White says that 92 percent of the world’s wealthiest individuals are self-made and 80 percent of them have had their substantial wealth only 10 years or less. “This means that the ones controlling most of the wealth globally are not brand aware,” she says.
This new reality requires a change in how companies market to these new wealthy consumers.
“Luxury brands that used to just be able to ride on their reputation must now aggressively educate these individuals about their brand,” she says. “These individual did not grow up with the old luxury brands.”
For companies that have an exceptional and valuable product or service, it’s a demographic that is worth pursuing.
“The combined Net Worth of the UHNW could pay off the United States deficit ($14 trillion) and still have Net Worth higher than the GDP of the U.S. and China combined and this amount is controlled by less than 200,000 people,” she said.
White’s interest in luxury marketing began more than 20 years ago at Simmons College in Boston when, on her own, she began studying the specific motivations of the wealthy. At the time it was an unknown field of study. She continued to pursue this market by first forming an events marketing and planning agency for wealthy clients that included the NFL and American Express.
White soon found even more success in the private aviation business, first with SeaGate Travel, helping it to become the 10th largest travel company in the U.S. with a private charter division. She followed this by becoming head of global marketing for private aviation partnership, NetJets/Marquis Jets BBJ program, a subsidiary of Berkshire Hathaway. This is a short list of her experience and accomplishments.
As “The Luxury Guru,” she spreads the world of luxury to a much broader audience through broadcast media, online videos, a number of social media platforms, magazine columns and articles in publications throughout the world, and on her blog (www.LuxGuru.Typepad.com). Primarily through social media her popularity has grown organically from the U.S. to Europe to the U.A.E.
The way luxury is viewed has changed greatly over the past few years and White, in her dual roles, is able to benefit. The snobbish appeal has largely disappeared and White says that’s a good thing. “Snobbery by definition is not being luxurious.” In addition, digital media has redefined how consumers and luxury brands communicate with one another.
White knows that most low price point luxuries like fashion, perfumes, skin care, cosmetics and candles rely on 80 percent of their sales from aspirational consumers. So when presenting to general audiences, she often talks about these more affordable items.
“My information to the consumer is free. If people cannot afford a yacht, they can still watch a video or read an article I wrote on it,” she says. “It does not hurt anyone to share in the education, the advertisers and sponsors of low price-point luxuries like fashion…. I supply positive educational entertainment.”
For luxury professionals, she provides free research and tips for companies on attracting and marketing to luxury consumers.
“The articles I write and share for free help many small companies that cannot afford to hire an expert,” she says. “I get letters of gratitude all the time from small companies that say they turned their businesses around by following my advice and articles. I think it is great that I have been able to help so many.”
Finally, for those who have made it and are inexperienced at enjoying their wealth to the fullest, White's blog and other online activities provide a safe, secure source of inside information about luxury. Her followers are predominantly UHNW (private jet owning) individuals that sign up to get information from her blog daily. They include royals, billionaires and other very noteworthy names. White says there are very few media sources that have this reach. "This is why companies like Rolls-Royce had me do the very first personal (not about cars) interview with their global CEO. Because they want to reach my audience. This is something very rare."
She added, “I offer ego friendly ways to learn about the best luxury brands from private jets, to yachts, to watches, to fashion designers, to wines. Most UHNWs grew up in poor or middle class homes and are more likely to know mass brands like Nike than luxury brands like Brioni. This is a group of people that do not have to pick and choose what luxury they can partake in. They can do it all and they are thirsty for trustworthy information. Trust plays a very key role. This group does not respond to traditional advertising. The power of the personality (my brand) brings trust. There is accountability as to who is saying it.”
However, there is another reason she is so ubiquitous.
“I am a marketer. To ask me to not market is like asking me not to breath.”