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Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Meet Your Market-Northwoods Wealth

Deep in the Northwoods, surrounded by white pine, ash and birch trees, perched atop hillsides that look over lakes filled with loons, mallards and Canadian geese, reside impressive luxury homes that mimic nature with natural log construction or cedar shake exteriors. Built in two-story A-frame construction, with towering floor to ceiling peaked windows, winding staircases that crease through steep hillsides to the lakes below, or crafted to blend into the very trees that surround their massive expanse, these homes represent more than beauty by design. They represent a luxury market you may be missing. If you’ve never heard the term ‘Northwoods’, chances are you don’t live in the Midwest where this very influential market resides. If so, you’re missing out on a really big consumer marketing opportunity.

As you can imagine, the homes described above cost several hundred thousand to several million dollars to construct and own. They represent more than just a luxury get-a-way or retreat (for many, homes like these are summer residences). This Northwoods lifestyle is just that, a lifestyle…a measure of wealth, success and status. These homes represent their owners on a highly prestigious level. What it means for you is that this market has money to spend, and if properly targeted, they can spend it on you.

What is the Northwoods market?

Wisconsin, Minnesota, the UP of Michigan and Canada all boast claim to some of the deepest Northwoods expanses in the US. Here, miles upon miles of woodland exist, some mingled with lakes that offer prime grounds for creating a luxury Northwoods retreat. Luxury homes and exclusive seasonal community groups can be found here. People of wealth flock from the larger cities to build or purchase homes in the Northwoods, including physicians, bankers, realtors, professional athletes, entrepreneurs, celebrities, investors and others. Because many Northwoods home owners are seasonal, the bulk of commerce they provide occurs from April-September, sometimes into December for areas that offer winter activities later in the year. Due to this seasonal boom in population and spending that occur in communities where many luxury Northwoods homes reside, gifts shops, stores and shopping centers in those areas adjust inventory to accommodate. This can include offering basic everyday items, along with boutique quality products as well.

Why should you consider this market?

This is a luxury market with money to spend and the affinity to do so. Consumers in this market are influenced by having nice things, luxury things, what their neighbors have (true!), and what is new and trendy. While most income earners in this market are men, women tend to be the main spenders, along with tweens and teenagers.

Gift shops are common in Northwoods areas which often carry an eclectic range of merchandise and who are not afraid to carry higher-priced items. Boutique goods like organic and handmade lotions, soaps and body products, jewelry, boutique clothing, indie books and music DVD’s, country and Northwoods themed home d├ęcor, pottery, glass, outdoor items, gourmet food products, and upscale children’s clothing and accessories are common in stores like these. Many retailers make local wholesale purchases if they can find a local seller of quality, or source via trips to trade shows throughout the year. Ultimately, with the wide selection of uncommon and high-quality goods often found in Northwoods shops and stores, anyone with a product that fits, even with a higher wholesale price tag, should investigate if this market works for them.

How do you tap into this market?

Believe it or not in this economy, many gift shops and stores in Northwoods areas have been in business for many years, showing a longevity supported by the wealth boom in seasonal population. To find them, you need to know the areas where they set up shop. You can start by using Google to research shops in the states mentioned earlier. Then, contact them to see if they are accepting new products, then make your pitch. Or, ask followers of your social networks who may live in these areas to provide you with some leads for shops to pitch. Because many of these retailers are seasonal, make your pitch at an appropriate buying time (mid-winter-late spring), or provide a fast turn-around time to meet rapid wholesale purchases if possible.

As a lucky girl who grew up in a lake home in the deep Northwoods, I can appreciate the excitement of taking a boat ride around the lake, just before dusk, to ‘sight-see’ all the beautiful Northwoods lake homes. Even better, was the fun of spending hours browsing the gift stores and shops in the community where we lived. Every season, merchandise became more exciting, fresher and more wonderful. There was always something uncommon and always something original. Why not make it your product that stands out and entices this deep-pocketed market to make a purchase?

To get help promoting your product to the Northwoods market, consider Boutique Up! Daily’s Retailer Swag program, which will be targeting very select retailers in this market throughout 2009.


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