Our prior column, which focused on luxury through the eyes of affluent female and male consumers, received very positive feedback. In it, we reported on adults 18+ in age in households with household incomes of $75,000 or more — the top 34% of households in the United States — who described "luxury" in their own words and told us which brand they nominated as the number one luxury brand in the world. Notably, though, while readers enjoyed "seeing" luxury through the eyes of affluent men and women, there were many requests to look at how the different generations, especially Millennials, view luxury, and which brand they considered the number one luxury brand. In response to that, this column addresses how the three generations (Millennials, Gen Xers, and Boomers) describe luxury in their own words, while our next column will review which brands they named as the number one luxury brand in the world.
Regarding how affluents describe luxury and which themes get listed among their top 20 luxury descriptions, affluents in aggregate agree that the word "luxury" brings to mind "expensive," "quality," and "cars." However, when it comes to describing luxury through the eyes of the three affluent generations addressed in this column, there are very distinct points of view. For example, "travel," "classy," and "premium" are among the Millennials' top-20 descriptions, but not among the Gen Xers', who are the only generation for which "money" and "unnecessary" appear in their top-20 descriptions. In contrast, only for Boomers do "top-of-the-line" and "desirable" get included in the top 20 as descriptions of luxury. A total of 32 unique luxury descriptions were mentioned across the three generations' top-20 lists, but only nine made it into the top 20 among all three generations: "expensive," "quality," "cars," "name-brand," "high-end," "non-essential," "unaffordable," "high-price," and "costly." We'll now review each generation's luxury descriptions.
Affluent Millennials' Descriptions of "Luxury"
In our most recent survey, we asked our respondents to describe in their own words what they think about when they read, see, or hear the word "luxury." The following word cloud displays the top 20 themes that emerged from affluent Millennials' (age 18 to 34) responses to our question.
Notably, 18 of the 20 themes are descriptive adjectives (in green) with "expensive" and "quality" standing out as ranking first and second. Two of the 20 luxury themes are products (in blue): cars and travel. The following six themes, notably, are included only in the affluent Millennials' top 20 and do not appear in the top 20 for the other two generations: "classy," "premium," "good," "rich," "travel," and "great."
Affluent Gen Xers' Descriptions of "Luxury"
For affluent Gen Xers (age 35 to 49), "expensive" and "cars" take the top two places, followed by "high-end" and "quality." Notably, the themes "money," "unnecessary," and "comfort" appear only in the Gen Xers' top-20 list and not in those of the other two generations.
Affluent Boomers' Descriptions of "Luxury"
After "expensive" and "quality," more affluent Boomers (age 50 to 68) mentioned "non-essential" than any other theme as coming to mind when they think of luxury. Four themes — "top-of-the-line," "unique," "fine," and "desirable" — are exclusive to the Boomers' list when compared with the Millennials' and Gen Xers' luxury themes.
Our next column will review the three generations' top 20 luxury brands.