Living in Monaco magazine

Why do brands fail in Monaco?

Most people dream about success and getting rich, having a balanced and healthy life without financial difficulties, especially when they see the accomplished residents of the Principality of Monaco. Fame, wealth, and respect are all in the air of beautiful Monaco, yet new residents often make the same business mistakes – concludes Zsolt Szemerszky, founder of Niche Media Monaco.

Let me start by stating this: anything can be sold to someone who wants something, but does not need it; but nothing can be sold to someone who does not want something, even if he needs it. 

As I used to say, the capitalization of our personal and business potential highly depends on our willingness to learn and improve. During the past decade, I coached and helped many people to achieve their aims, however, I have also observed many entrepreneurs and brands who failed because of their lack of willingness to understand the local characteristics of the Principality of Monaco.

Let’s put it in this way, over 80% of the luxury businesses coming to the Principality of Monaco fail to capitalise on their true potentials. So, let’s learn from their mistakes and do things better to achieve visible results. Here are some rules from the field of luxury which are definitely applicable to the Principality of Monaco.

22-2-22 Monaco Residents Meeting @LivinginMonaco @NocheMediaMC Photo credit: Arbee Pachao @acpimages

Rule 01: 

Winning in Monaco is not about the price tag

One of the major elements of the luxury market is desire. Simply putting a price tag on a product and shouting it around loudly is not enough. It is very important to remember that everyone can see the price of the product, but not its value! To accomplish this, you need time. Value has always been a relative concept, based on the personal judgment of the customer. Real luxury products never have an absolute value, a product is worth as much as the buyer is willing to pay for it.

Just think about your iPhone, did you really need it or rather you wanted to have it? Or for transportation did you buy the cheapest car because it has four wheels and brings you from A to B or because of something else? The most popular car brand in Monaco is the Mercedes. The most popular sportscar is the Ferrari. What is common in them is that they evoke emotions.

The price is only one factor. Believe it or not, the price is not the most important one, especially not in the Principality where the average household has over 3 million Euro (and not to mention the wealth of the ultra-rich). So how can you catch their desires? Just as in any market, understanding your target group is the key to prosperity. This is the very first step before you hold any kind of event or invest in any marketing campaign.

Rule 02: 

Do not put people into boxes

Do not make the mistake to judge and put people in to imaginary boxes. In the Principality of Monaco, you can often meet established people in a very casual way. Also, from a business angle, there are always different types of buyers when it comes to your offer:

  • some of them are only looking at the price
  • some of them are looking for the best quality
  • some of them are looking for the luxury or the prestige
  • some of them are looking for long-term guarantees
  • some of them are looking for added values
  • some of them simply make their decisions based on your personality.

There are different needs, but you need to know how to handle them. This is the main reason why it is difficult to cover various needs during a single event or with a single campaign. This can be a big mistake. 

I often smile when I walk around in Monaco and I see for instance that private jet companies are advertising at the train station. Maybe I am wrong but those who commute by train hardly can afford to travel with private jets… Again, understanding your target group is a key element to success.

Monaco is a niche market with the most millionaires per capita in the world. In this unique field of accomplished HNWIs, one event is not enough to close a deal (there are a few exceptions). Many brands organise fancy one-night events, gourmet dinners, cocktail parties, and presentations, but in a country that offers over 700 official events per year and a further estimated 3,000 private events, a one-night presentation will hardly make a difference.

To generate interest and convert it into an actual sale, you need to aim for the long-term game. Aim for the synergy of understanding, educating, pre-qualifying, presenting, following-up, and sales closing. These steps are equally important on the road of success in Monaco.

22-2-22 Monaco Residents Meeting @LivinginMonaco @NocheMediaMC Photo credit: Arbee Pachao @acpimages

Rule 03: 

Do not rush things

Unlike many other countries, the market in Monaco is slow. Lack of time to build up relationships will end up losing opportunities and these are the cases when excuse becomes the idea. You need to take the time and the proper approach to build up trust and here is why.

In the Principality, the real touristic season starts in May usually with the Formula One Grand Prix and it ends in September with the Monaco Yacht Show. I always call May the Grand Opening of Monte-Carlo.

April and May are two very interesting months because the so-called seasonal entrepreneurs start to appear. Many fortune hunters come to Monaco during these months to advise on events, relocation, luxury goods, investments, and all other money-related topics. We call them seasonal entrepreneurs because typically they leave Monaco after a few months.

Many seasonal entrepreneurs are in Monaco with the hope of earning fast money. They work for extra high fees, sometimes charging even ten times higher than any local business. Since these seasonal folks are pushing their messages in an extremely aggressive way on all kinds of social platforms, they can catch some small fish.

As a brand, you always have to plan for the long-term, because this is how you can make a difference. Trust is a very important factor because the luxury market is very unforgiving.

Also, we know that in Monaco everyone knows the Sovereign Prince and one of the most used sentences is “the Prince is my best friend”. Obviously…

Rule 04: 

Events or Experiences

Most people will never remember a regular networking event. Your goal is to be memorable and your event should never disappoint to deliver what you have promised.

For instance, crooks and fortune hunters play on people’s emotional triggers with the help of some catchy wordings because they are fully aware that our brain will do the rest of the job. Because what is the brain like? It is selective. Sometimes we only hear what we want to hear. Sometimes we only see what we want to see. But our brain is able to do much more than this, our brain can immediately recoup the missing information as it is the most understandable for us.

“We are expecting the presence of XY celebrity…” or “We have invited and we are expecting H.S.H. Prince Albert II…”.

These statements sound amazing and catchy, however, most people misunderstand the meaning of the word “expecting”. Many people believe that expecting means that the guest will definitely be there. It is not something that is guaranteed, it is just the most effective version of the “we hope” or “we wish” phrases. But the organizer is never liable because he or she never states that the guest will actually be present.

However, what will happen is negative gossip about your event. Since Monaco has a small and powerful community, it is always better to promise less and surprise with more.

It has always been rewarding and beneficial to organize events in the Principality if you do it in the right way. Invest in the pre-promotion, but invest even more in the proper guest selection. It is something that brands forget that inviting all the socialites for a free cocktail party might not end up with sales. This is the case when the typical self-justification comes: “maybe we did not grow as we expected with this campaign, but at least we strengthened our brand name in the market.”

Also, try to distinguish your brand by offering experiences and always do follow-up communications even after the event. In life and business, one of the most important things is communication. Communication should be in both directions every time, and to establish this, you need time.

In the luxury market, to think outside the box is to try to think beyond the obvious things in order to bring something new, something unique. Monaco residents do not fall for social media photos and fancy promises. Many events in Monaco attract socialites, not your target group. If you want to have an event that brings you visible results, then invest in the preparation. Take your focus away from the shining photos and the celebrities and start to focus on how you can attract your prospective clients. I bet the people who are only looking for free champagne and dinner are not your target group.

Rule 05: 

Utilise the local community

There is nothing more powerful than being recommended by long-term residents and established local businesses. So, never underestimate the value of Monaco’s small and niche community because people talk. It is a friendly and closed community where 120 nationalities come together creating a platform to unite diverse interests.

You can find amazing local partners in Monaco with whom to collaborate to achieve your aims. No matter whether you are seeking PR, marketing, sales, event organisation, etc. help, multiple accomplished companies can be at your service.

Many people believe that they can do the work themselves, however, they underestimate the value of a local partner. This is a huge and costly mistake. In the Principality of Monaco, the up is down and the down is up. It is a unique market that requires many years of experience and massive guidance for brands.

Working with local partners can help you by providing the right connections, getting you in touch with the right local businesses to reach out to your target group. Social capital is the highest importance when you do something in Monaco because you need to target the right people. This is why for events my first question is always “who will invite the guests”?

Another big mistake that brands coming to Monaco make, is expecting everything to be “discounted”. For instance, working for a commission is a typical request I receive every day, which gives me the following impression:

the brand has no sufficient funds to live and breathe in the Monaco market

The luxury market needs significant funds and it is far less forgiving than the mass market that allows failed products relaunch. This is typically a mistake made by people who previously worked with companies that are targeting the mass market. Having the right local partner next to you can be really costly at first sight, however, it is never as expensive as doing things in an amateur way. Let’s put it this way: working with a Monaco-based PR or marketing partner is costly because it brings you the requested result.

Everything that brings you results cannot be considered expensive. The only thing that you can call expensive are things that do not bring you any result. A simple coffee without a business order at the end can be considered expensive and a waste of time and money too.

When you are aiming to plan something in Monaco, look for result-oriented solutions instead of cheap ones. Many people can help you from the Monaco Welcome Office, or the Monaco Government Tourist Office as well.

Monaco's UHNW Magazine
UHNW Magazine / Photo credit: Arbee Pachao @acpimages

Rule 06: 

Digital-only won’t make the trick

The truth is that you can capitalize on your potential by creating integrated marketing channels.

I often meet with so-called marketing experts who say that they only allocate budget to digital advertisements. There is nothing wrong with the digital campaign when you aim to create brand awareness. Generally speaking, when an event or promotion fails, people often say that the product was not ready. Well, it is not necessarily true.

When a company sends a marketing guy with a question of how many subscribers we have, I already know that they will fail because of the lack of experience in the high-net-worth market. Luxury marketing is not about the number of people. It is all about the “who”. The Principality of Monaco has a unique business society with high-profile people.

If you want to create sales transactions then you need to take targeted approaches. Ten people who can afford your product are worth much more than 1 million Instagram likes from people who are not in the area and who have not the necessary financial needs. 

And it is not about the budget. Just think about it – if a result cannot be gained from a small budget, then what kind of result can be expected from an increased budget?

Implementing brand promotion strategies to create value means fully understanding the behavior of the target market. When you try to reach out to residents then you should think about local approaches as well and not only global ones.

As we all know, in many cases, success relies only on one tiny thing. Interestingly 70% of people working in the luxury marketing segment do not know what luxury truly is. It is almost a trend of today that everyone is competent in everything, so that specialization has disappeared.

Real luxury marketing is catching attention and building up the desire of your well-defined target group. Learning from this, creating value in simple terms means creating products or services that people WANT! We need to show and teach the value of the product in all cases.

You will achieve success when you can build campaigns to gain benefits from individual perspectives. One of the basic reasons why people immediately turn down an offer is because they do not understand its message, or they simply believe that you are just one of the other 100 similar brands.

If you want to be successful with your promotion in Monaco, you have to place your product or solution, first and foremost, in the mind of your target group, and this is a challenge in the luxury market.

Rule 07: 

Think outside the box

Always focus on the changes, because the market is in a continuous change. To explain this with an example, when the pandemic started, LVMH group realised that it might not be the best time to push the traditional luxury good advertisements. 

Driven by a genius thought, they created a brilliant social awareness campaign by providing LVMH branded hand sanitizer gels to the local stores in Monaco. Every single person used it at the entrance of the stores. Through this campaign, LVMH gained great brand visibility and a superb reputation by being a socially responsible brand.

Rule 08: 

It is a long-term game

Many people are looking for the magic pill to get rich overnight. I am sorry to disappoint but this does not exist in Monaco. If you still believe in fairy tales, then you will end up with a bad taste in Monaco, which will be entirely your and only your fault.

Instead of short-term goals, always aim for continuous presence and customer education. This is how winning will come.

The PR, marketing, and sales functions should never be mixed up. Although one does not exist without the other, it is necessary to separate them and to know which is responsible for what. You need to know what you are expecting as a result from each of them. In the Principality of Monaco, the only companies that perform in the long-term are those that focus on long-term prosperity, using the well-balanced combination of events and brand awareness promotions (both printed and digital). 

Never forget that capitalization of your personal and business potential highly depends on your willingness to learn and improve. Proper marketing and client education are much more crucial than in the mass market. 

Try to create continuous visual appearances and articles during the year to properly educate your target group. This way the values of your product will end up with the desired result.

Finally… Don’t be afraid to ask for guidance:

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