A newly-released study from the American Affluence Research Center (AARC) offers interesting insights into how the wealthiest 10 percent view this country’s financial future. The most recent iteration of an ongoing bi-annual study, the ‘Affluent Market Tracking Study #21’, includes a variety of luxury-related data and analysis. From gauging confidence in Wall Street and the job market to revealing brand and loyalty program preferences, the 372 respondents — whose average annual income is $800K and whose profile represents approximately 11.4 million U.S. households — provided information that will better help brands understand the behavior and motivations of the American luxury consumer.
In terms of the economy, AARC reported that the majority of respondents believe the stock market won’t return to its pre-recession robustness until at least 2015. On the subject of jobs, most believe the road to recovery will take even longer–40 percent say it won’t be until 2016 or even 2017 for employment to stabilize. Despite these measured outlooks, future purchase intentions for what AARC calls the, “8 major expenditures,” (automobiles, primary residences, cruises, home remodeling, etc.), have for the most part been on the rise among the affluent. And when it comes to the study’s 17 designated “product categories” (international vacations, fine jewelry, furniture, designer apparel, charitable donations, etc.), the figures are even more promising with five of the categories projected to see double-digit increases. Compared with ‘Affluent Market Tracking Study #20′, published last fall, this new set shows steady improvement both in consumer confidence and consumption intention.
As for the luxury consumers’ brand preferences, results were a mixed bag of predictable and less so. One-third of those surveyed listed perennial favorite Apple as their top brand for quality product/service. For retail, however, the most popular store wasn’t Saks or Neiman Marcus or even Best Buy–it was bulk food purveyor Costco, with 25 percent of total responses.
AARC found loyalty/reward programs to continue to be extremely popular with the wealthy, with the average number of memberships among those surveyed to be 10 per person. The most popular loyalty program, once again, with a 16 percent share, was American Express.