In his excellent book Richistan, Robert Frank detailed how millionaires in the mid-2000s had implicitly become a country (or at least a relatively homogeneous market segment), united by shared experiences and characteristics, and increasingly distinct from middle-class consumers. In my own book, I similarly referred to wealthy consumers as “globizens,” or global citizens, whose international mindsets and international connections fostered an elite community that transcended borders.
A just-released analysis of our survey across 51 countries finds that, even in today’s post-recession world, Affluents continue to form a globally coherent segment marked by cross-border similarities in attitudes, lifestyles and marketplace preferences. There is, of course, tremendous diversity in the Affluent population within and between countries, but this analysis also finds a remarkably consistent demographic, psychographic and media profile among Affluents around the world.
Demographically, Affluents are most typically in their mid-40s, well-educated, with professional or managerial jobs. Most are married and parents. The vast majority tell us that family is their top priority, and family considerations profoundly shape their spending across categories, including home, food, auto and travel.
Many are multicultural, if not in personal background, then in general perspective, bringing an international approach to thinking about social, business and marketplace issues. Many speak multiple languages, and engage with media brands from multiple countries.
Across countries, Affluent use of mobile devices and digital media is up sharply, while their use of traditional media is down only modestly. As a result, Affluent engagement with media overall is up, as new forms of Affluent media use get layered on top of older ones. Affluents continue to grow in their hunger for content and connectivity, for information and entertainment. More generally, Affluents tend to be early adopters, opinion leaders and influencers. For better and for worse, they describe their lives as fast-paced and full of multi-tasking.
Affluents bring an open-minded and cosmopolitan perspective on ideas in general, as well as products and brands in particular. In the marketplace, the Great Recession raised their standards rather than lowered them; Affluents expect quality and a deal. They are far more likely to be value-oriented than price-sensitive, and are less brand loyal than many brands would like.
There is, as I mentioned, considerable diversity among Affluents around the world. Affluents in Latin America are particularly enthusiastic users of social and international media. Luxury growth is strong among Affluents in the Asia-Pacific region, while U.S. Affluents show strong growth in spending on outdoor recreation such as skiing, golf, tennis and cycling. European Affluents are more subdued in their spending and economic optimism. But in the final analysis, the similarities are more pronounced and profound than the differences. Media and marketers focused on the Affluent have the luxury (no pun intended) of focusing on a market segment with significant homogeneity around the world.