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Saturday, April 17, 2010

The Annals of Luxury: Hey, Louis, Gucci, Georgio! Did You Know You're Toast?

Cadillac, Gucci, Armani, Vuitton, and Versace were not among the top 75 luxury brands preferred by wealthy consumers, according to "The New Face of Affluence," an in-depth study just released by Dwell Strategy and Research of San Francisco.

Dwell identified a segment of nearly 9 million Americans who have household incomes of $100,000 or higher. They represent less than half of 1% of U.S. households, spend $303 billion annually on their favorite brands and have a whole new take on what it means to be wealth, reports the trade publication Ad Age.

We don't know about Facebook founder Mark Zukerberg, but many young New Affluents aren't donning Armani to shop at Whole Foods.

The 1,000 survey respondents said that many traditional luxury brands are no longer relevant to them.

With a median age of 45, this generation of elites is shunning "conspicuous consumption" in favor of brands that represent quality, aesthetics and authenticity. These attributes, along with uniqueness, integrity, design and performance, represent today's "prestige" for these high-end consumers.

So what brands do New Affluents find meaningful, authentic and relevant? Apple, Sony, BMW and Ralph Lauren, unsurprisingly. But Crate & Barrel, Ikea, Whole Foods and Levi's, too. Porsche, Lexus, Chanel and Viking. And Target, North Face, Volkswagen and The Gap.

Yes, Target and The Gap.

The study also shows that formerly trendy Herman Miller, Knoll and Eames. have regained luxury status for the New Affluents.

The respondents said that they don't buy anything "to impress others."

If you believe that, then you must be one of those folks who don't fudge their expense accounts. That's a much smaller group than the half of one percent of Americans targeted in the survey.

People don't tell researchers things they are ashamed of – like the real reason they plant that shiny new BMW in the driveway where the neighbors can see it or why they wear their big fat Rolex to shop at Costco.

Until those behaviors cease, luxury is here to stay. It just looks a little different to the current generation of affluent consumers.

Read the full text of the Ad Age report here.

1 comment :

  1. Very interesting study!! I am new Affluent, but I still value old established brands like Chanel, Gucci. I don't buy things to impress others, but every time I buy something really expensive I am happy that I can afford it. Makes me feel special.