Identifying Your Best Clients

Clients can best be characterized in their own words. It is up to the designer to uncover those characteristics—and often they are the same today as at any time and in any economy. Consider, for example, the client for luxury design.

Comfort at home leads the list. Deep emotions motivate us to live well at home— connecting with relationships (at home), taking care of me (at home), and individual style (at home). These motives have not changed much over the centuries.  They are intrinsic to interior design and often trump economics.

Design manifests that intimate desire to live well, no matter how much money is spent. The people who have the means to afford an extraordinary experience with design want the best value, are used to getting it, and will spend accordingly, while trusting a designer's well-deserved judgment.

The affluent describe themselves as comfortable, not rich, not even wealthy. Many are dual income professionals, most self-made.

Learning to live with affluence, they (especially the newly wealthy) want designers to show them how. Many of them aspire to good design but are irreverent about pretense and refuse to be intimidated by it. They want and need guidance, especially with the abundant choices, but need a reason for having it done for them by an interior designer.

The so-called "baby boomers" have reached their peak earning power and control a great deal of America's wealth. They are cultivated, cultured, well educated, widely traveled and prefer to consume knowledge and experiences rather than goods. To them, "being more" is more important than "having more."

Younger or older, clients are more likely to pay a premium for design that reflects their own, individual style. They expect "concierge-levels" of service.

Premium spending breeds premium expectations. This is the most highly sought-after population in the world. The universal luxury IQ is rising.  So are the standards of service and quality. Because so many luxury brands treat them special, some have an almost militant sense of entitlement: "I made it; I deserve it." High maintenance? Could be, indeed.

Among the most resourceful clients, one of their few constraints is their time— time to be with friends and family, or just on their own. The modern paradox is that while these clients have enormous economic power, their time is not their own. Consequently, these potential clients will always buy time—even pay a premium for it—because to them it is so valuable. For most of the most resourceful clients, "time is the ultimate luxury."

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