State of Luxe: Our Three Affluent Tribes

Sharing our expertise & insights on marketing to the aspirational, affluent, & HNW audiences.

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We have recently launched our whitepaper, State of Luxe; reaching and engaging the affluent consumer of today and tomorrow: new affluent consumer research. Here we worked with GWI and surveyed over 1000 affluent consumers in the UK and USA, across balanced genders and ages. Our goal was to understand affluent consumers’ opinions on luxury today and tomorrow, and how best to reach and engage with them on their terms. 

Key Trends

We saw some trends across affluent consumers generally. For example, ‘quality’ was the unanimous trait that makes something luxurious (76%). We saw treating oneself as a top reason to buy luxury (70%) as well as search as the most popular way to research a luxury product/ service (46%). A key finding was that 51% of affluent consumers do not follow luxury brands on social media. Digging a little deeper we began to see some wild differences between older and younger consumers; 32% of younger consumers (16-35) compared to 60% of older consumers (36-60). Yes, these findings show a huge disparity between older and younger consumers’ preference to use social media but it was not wholly black and white. 

As such, we decided to look at the digital advocacy of the affluent consumers; dissecting the data to create three tribes, each with varying degrees of digital literacy and attitudes to luxury. Our three tribes are the Digitally Disconnected consumer, the Traditional Luxury consumer, and the Luxury Advocate. Each tribe values luxury uniquely, and each research and purchase luxury in fundamentally different ways too. In this blog post, we share some of the overview insights on each tribe.

The Digitally Disconnected Consumer

This consumer was made up of those who did not follow luxury brands on social media. They view luxury to be less about brand recognition, but rather about quality and a higher price point; they are typically not as trend-led: but rather more practical. They’re not interested in buying luxury because it’s luxury; rather they buy luxury because they want quality and longevity. They’re the least engaged in “luxury”. This tribe was the oldest, and also was the least concerned with the price being a deciding factor. 

They use search engines to research products/services digitally, and yet they typically purchase in-store. Whilst the least digitally connected, they are the most engaged in email marketing from a brand compared to other tribes. This scored lowest for using digital and do look to friends and family to advise about buying from luxury brands. They are not concerned if a brand demonstrates social values and are certainly not willing to pay more for those values. 

The Traditional Luxury Consumer

This consumer does engage with luxury brands on social media. They are digitally literate but less so than The Luxury Advocate with 40% of this group not following luxury brands on social media. They too perceive luxury to be about quality, yet they also believe it to constitute brand prestige, its exclusivity, or products and services with a higher price point. 

This consumer is au fait with buying digitally, but what seemingly matters to them most is if they are buying “the best” and the recognised. This consumer scored highest for brand advocacy amongst well known luxury brands. This consumer was in between as to whether they cared about whether a brand demonstrates social values. Long-standing and heritage brands have a higher klout amongst this tribe. 

This consumer was quite unpredictable in terms of their pre-sale and buying habits; though they swayed more towards researching online and purchasing luxury in-store.

The Luxury Advocate

And finally, our youngest, and in many senses, the tribe of the future, ‘The Luxury Advocate’. This affluent consumer was made up of those who did follow luxury brands on social media. They do not just use digital to help them research or buy a product or service, but they also expect luxury brands to entertain them along the way. 

They too perceive luxury to be about its quality, but the overall brand experience is important to this consumer too. They are least concerned about brand prestige and instead look to buy from brands that speak to their values and identity. This tribe was the most price-aware and we feel this is due to how active they are on digital. This tribe is less brand loyal and more price-savvy than the others, and they really care about a brand demonstrating social value; in particular equal rights. And they’re much more willing to pay for brands who authentically back these social causes. 

Conclusion

Ultimately, our findings concur with prior research that age and generation do play a role in how affluent consumers view, research, and buy luxury, and it is clear that affluent consumer behaviour is shifting. But at the crux of this shift is digital adoption and in turn how consumers value luxury. We have seen the more digitally active, the more a consumer is price-aware, and as such price matters more. We too have seen that the more digitally active are more conscious about social values a brand embodies. What’s more digital adoption is also impacting how we view luxury and our own status: identity becoming ever more important. And it is this digital adoption that is bolstering the segmentation of marketing audiences through age. 

VERB Brands

Reaching Affluent & Aspirational Audiences through Data, Search, Creative & Media. VERB is a digital agency that drives strategy, growth, and revenue. The world’s only data-driven, creative media agency for luxury and premium brands. Based in London, Manchester, New York and Shanghai.