Luxury Institute News

May 2, 2014

Consumer Spending Trends: What Drives Luxury Purchases

New survey finds generational differences in how wealthy shoppers make luxury purchases.

By: Donald Liebenson
Millionaire Corner
May 2, 2014

What becomes a luxury brand most? A new consumer spending trends survey finds that regardless of age, superior quality and craftsmanship are the two most essential elements of a luxury brand that wealthy shoppers consider.

The Luxury Institute surveyed U.S. consumers ages 21 and up with a minimum annual income of $150,000 about what they consider to be important in luxury brand purchases and the specific triggers that motivate their spending decisions.

Six-in-ten wealthy respondents also said they consider superior customer service and design as vital attributes to a luxury purchase.

The consumer spending trends survey found generational differences in what influences luxury purchase. Millennials put a high premium on the opinions of others. Nearly seven-in-ten (68 percent) of wealthy shoppers born after 1980 ask someone they know about their experiences with a luxury purchase before buying it. The becomes less important among Gen Xers (64 percent) and Baby Boomers (58 percent).

Millennials, who came of age during the recession, are more likely than previous generations to give greater consideration to a brand’s history, a product’s uniqueness, and investment value when it comes to evaluating luxury brands. They also grew up in the digital age of online discounts. Playing into the stereotype of their generation as entitled, the survey also found the wealthy Millennials “have developed expectations that luxury brands should show their appreciation for any purchases made by providing complimentary shipping and rewards programs.”

In addition to free shipping, wealthy shoppers of all ages agree that user-friendly return policies and lifetime guarantees are the two most potent features of luxury brands that enhance the luxury shopping experience and compel them to buy from a particular merchant.

There is little generational difference in how the wealthy make their high-end purchases, according to the consumer spending trends survey. Online shopping is no pervasive enough that Baby Boomers, Gen Xers and Millennials are all nearly equally as likely to have made their last luxury purchase online as in-store.

Brand websites are universally the most popular sources of information wealthy consumers use when preparing to make a luxury purchase. Three-in-ten most rely on online consumer reviews and friends and family, while 27 percent most rely on sales associates. More than three-fourths of wealthy Millennials (vs. 70 percent of Gen Xers and 67 percent of baby Boomers) say they are susceptible to being swayed by advertising. They are also much more open to receiving emails or text messages from luxury brands and sales representatives as well as using social media, mobile applications or other digital platforms to further engage with luxury brands.

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