People over 50 control 77% of the financial assets of this country and are the target for 10% of all advertising. The prejudice against older customers is so strong and so pervasive that even smart companies can't see beyond it (see Aiming Low.)
A few years ago, Saks Fifth Avenue decided their customers were too old. They embarked on a plan to attract younger, hipper customers. After two disastrous years, they came to their senses, fired their ceo, and got back to business.
Now Ritz-Carlton is taking the first steps toward the same dumb strategy. According to The Wall Street Journal, they are producing three long-form films that are aimed at repositioning them as "young and hip".
Here's what's wrong with this strategy:
1. Ritz is not young and hip. Why do they want to pretend to be something they are not?
2. There are plenty of young and hip hotels in every major city in America. Another y&h hotel is exactly what high end travelers don't need.
3. Remaining contemporary is important. It should be done with re-designs, re-furnishings, and new services. Ritz should take a look at some of the newer Four Seasons and Peninsula Hotels. They can get rid of the "fox and hounds" look without making a big "repositioning" fuss.
You can bet Ritz is doing this because they did some research that showed younger customers think they're stuffy. So what? I can tell you that as a heavy user of Ritz hotels, I stay with them precisely because I don't have to sit at the bar next to the leather pants, hat-on-backwards crowd.
You can also bet there a lot of 30-somethings at their agency telling them they need to get younger. It's impossible for these people to understand that they are not the world's only target audience.
The good news for Ritz? It sounds like these movies are only going to be accessible on their website, so no one will see them anyway.
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