The Millionaire Next Door

Ask Your Customers About Their Unfulfilled Needs

The co-founder of Nine West Shoes, Vince Camuto, recently passed away, see The Wall Street Journal.  The Nine West brand certainly rings a bell with me.  In the national survey of millionaires that was the base for my book, Stop Acting Rich, respondents were asked: What brand of shoes (for dress and/or for work) do you own more than any other?

The Nine West brand of shoe ranked number one among millionaire women surveyed.  The most millionaire women ever spent for a pair of shoes was $140 (median). It is not surprising that many of the typical millionaire women would buy Nine West shoes.

But Mr. Camuto did not start out as a shoe designer.  His first full time job was selling shoes.  In an earlier blog  I described the profession of selling as a wealth incubator.  Out of 1,000 millionaire respondents, 137 answered, “Sales,” to the question, What was your first full time job?

At the age of 12 he got a job in a shoe store . . . a decade later . . . he began working (at) a shoe store that catered to socialites and celebrities . . . took an interest in their likes and dislikes and made note of their preferences. 

In essence Mr. Camuto conducted his own market research regarding the unmet needs of thousands of buyers of women’s shoes.  It was this extraordinary base of market knowledge that was the cornerstone for the development of the Nine West brand and its highly regarded distribution system.

What can be learned from Mr. Camuto’s case study?  He looked well beyond the traditional job description of shoe salesman.  Instead he had a great vision of how to leverage his considerable knowledge of the women’s shoe market. 

We changed the model . . . .  Before that you couldn’t get fashionable shoes at affordable prices.

Does your present job bring you into contact with key information sources about untapped market needs?  Do you view a customer as merely one buyer or as an important component of a network in your master plan to build a successful business?  If these questions stimulate your curiosity and creative intellect, you too may sell your business, as Mr. Camuto did, for $900 million!

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