Millionaires Have Their Own Generation Gap

In last month’s column, “Almost The Only Thing Millionaire Men And Women Have In Common... Is Lots of Money!,” I focused on affluent consumers in a different way — not by household income, but by male and female millionaires (our survey estimates the number of millionaires to be approximately 20 million, about half of whom are men and half are women). This gender-oriented column led a fair number of readers to ask how millionaires differ when they are segmented by generation (age) instead of by gender. Do millionaire Millennials have the same points of view regarding the future as Gen Xers or Boomers? Are these three generations planning to buy the same products and services in the near future?

Big picture: the millionaire differences by generation are in most respects much greater than the differences by gender that we detailed last month. First, there are about the same number of millionaire men and women — about 10 million of each — but the number of millionaires by generation differs substantially. The largest segment is the Boomers, of whom there are about 10 million, while there are almost 5 million Millennial millionaires and about 4 million GenX’er millionaires. The Silent Generation (the 65-plus age generation), who make up the remainder and who are not profiled in this column, number about one million.

The three generations that are detailed have very different viewpoints regarding the economy, with 77% of Millennials being optimistic looking forward, compared with 58% of Gen Xers and only 32% of Boomers. And their top financial goals again vary dramatically by generation. Notably, the Millennials are concerned about becoming financially independent (27% of the Millennials cite this as their key goal) while Gen Xers are heavily focused on three issues: having enough income for retirement (18%), having enough money for daily living expenses (16%), and having control over their assets (14%). The Boomers, as might be expected, are primarily focused on having enough income for retirement (33% cited this as their #1 goal out of 21 potential goals).

When the millionaire generations were asked what they are planning to buy in the near future, the vast majority of Millennials (82%) stated they are planning to buy one or more luxuries during the next 12 months, compared with about half of the Gen Xers and Boomers (47% and 49% respectively). A deeper look into millionaire buying plans by generation reveals that the #1 luxury buying plan is to take a vacation: 44% of Millennials are planning to spend on luxury vacations compared with 27% of Gen Xers and 29% of Boomers.

Another significant aspect that differentiates the millionaire generations is their attitudes toward their lives. The Boomers focus on their families (95% state that their families are a top priority) while the Gen Xers focus on being happy individuals (95% state they are happy) while the Millennials focus on buying quality, as they are in their acquisition phase of their lives (84% are more interested in quality than in price).

It’s evident that all wealthy people are not alike, and that generational issues play a key role in understanding how to market to them. The marketers who truly understand these generational differences are more likely to succeed.

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1 comment about "Millionaires Have Their Own Generation Gap".
  1. Erin Read from Creating Results , March 6, 2014 at 3:58 p.m.
    How is this a "generation gap" rather than a reflection of their lifestages? It is only logical that an older person would be more concerned with having income for retirement. It does not show a generational gap, as the cultural and political influences the Boomer shared with millions of others in their youth are not the driving force. Lifestage is. Effective generational marketing goes beyond age and into psychographics and belief systems. This is helpful data, but I feel it does a disservice to say that these are "generational" gaps.