Time Inc. and YouGov recently released findings from their latest Survey of Affluence and Wealth to over 200 luxury marketers at the 2014 Luxury Summit.  This is the ninth year of the survey, and trends are indicative of a maturing affluent consumer.

The survey for the first-time included data from 11 countries in addition to the 1,700 within the top 10% of income earners in the U.S., and covers issues ranging from lifestyle goals and economic trends to shopping and brands.

Supporting current research showing consumers are more proactive in researching brands and making purchasing decisions outside of the sphere of sales reps and other brand representatives, the survey found that anywhere from 70% (South Korea) to 91% (China) agree with this statement:

“When purchasing luxury or high-end products and services, I usually know what I want and what I'm willing to pay before interacting with a salesperson”

Further, very few affluent and wealthy consumers now rely solely on brand messaging to form their opinions about brands.  Among affluent U.S. consumers – with similar findings in most countries surveyed – 72% say, “Online comments by users of the product or service are meaningful to me when making decisions on what to buy.”  This figure has increased by seven points, from 65%, in 2012.  Moreover, 64% of respondents maintain, “Online comments by experts influence me when making decisions on what to buy,” up from 55%.

Even more striking for brands, perhaps, is the finding that far fewer affluent or wealthy consumers identify with “favorite” brands than even five or six years ago.  Among American respondents:

In 2007/2008:

  • 47% selected a favorite retailer versus 28% today
  • 80% selected a favorite fashion brand, in comparison with 61% now
  • 67% selected a favorite luxury hotel, as opposed to 37% currently

The Survey of Affluence and Wealth certainly supports much of the recent research and qualitative insight into the changing ways consumers are interacting with brands.  And similarly, it points to the need for brands to understand their customers and potential customers like never before.

As Caryn Klein, Vice President for Time Inc. Research & Insights notes, “What we’ve found is that resourceful consumers believe that the most important brand in a store or a car dealership is their own.  Repeated strategies for purchasing now depend upon the individual’s confidence in their own taste, confidence in their ability to research quality and value and confidence in the brand itself.  These strategic propositions yield substantial differences in how brands need to target and engage with affluent consumers.”

To learn more about best practices for engaging and winning confident, High Net Worth customers, download our free ebook, The Luxury Marketer’s Guide to Engaging and Winning HNW Customers.

For more information on the Time, Inc. and YouGov survey, click here.

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