Affluents Are Hardly Gluttons for Luxury Goods

They tend to have other plans for their money

February 15, 2018

Affluent consumers are certainly in a position to spend freely on luxury goods. But their spending habits are typically cautious.

“Splurging on luxuries is not a frequent practice for most affluents,” said eMarketer analyst Mark Dolliver, the author of a new report on affluent attitudes and buying behaviors. “Even if they would like to be flashy in that way, affluents do not necessarily feel they can afford it.”

A January 2017 Ipsos report offered a telling glimpse of this dynamic. It asked respondents at various levels of affluence how much more income they would need “to buy luxury on a regular basis.” Those in the $100,000-plus bracket felt they would need an additional $111,000 on average. Respondents in the $250,000-plus class would need an extra $179,000.

A high income does not banish financial anxieties, Dolliver added, noting that a 2017 Harris survey found that slightly less than half of respondents in the $250,000-plus bracket said they feel “financially secure.”

“Across almost every category, we see affluents exhibiting both splurge and economizing behavior,” said Michael Baer, senior vice president and team lead at Ipsos Affluent Intelligence Group.

And affluents who squeeze some luxury into their budgets are not always the ones with the most money. Baer noted that Ipsos has identified an affluent segment it calls “a taste of first class.” As he explained, “These are probably the youngest and definitely not the most financially high end of the segments. However, they’re the ones who have clearly indicated that they’re willing to splurge for pampering, for first class.”

eMarketer PRO subscribers can click here to access the full report, "US Affluents 2018: Examining the Foundations of Their Consumer Behavior." Nonsubscribers can learn more here