Luxury Spenders Not Into Bling
By Tom Ryan
According to a survey from The Conference Board, the vast majority of luxury consumers worldwide say they reject conspicuous consumption or buying to impress. Rather, they believe luxury is more about the “experience.”
The report – sponsored by Conde Nast, Gucci, Gibson USA, The Ritz Carlton and Tru Vue – was based on an online survey of 1,800 affluent consumers (top 25 percent income brackets) in the U.S., China, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, and the UK.
According to the survey, time is the most highly valued luxury (named by 35 percent of respondents as best matching their personal definition of luxury), followed by life experiences (25 percent) and having comfort, beauty and quality (18 percent).
About one-fourth of respondents strongly agreed:
- Luxury is less about the material things one has or one owns and more about
how one experiences life, a sense of happiness and satisfaction (26 percent
- Luxury is being comfortably well off and not having to worry about tomorrow
(25 percent strongly agree);
- Luxury is the finer things in life that surround you with extreme comfort,
beauty, and quality (25 percent strongly agree).
“For the largest share of luxury consumers, luxury is not specifically related to how much something costs or what brand it might be,” said Pamela Danziger, the author of the survey. “Luxury is highly personal and something the individual interprets and judges for him or herself. But while luxury is highly personal and separated from price and brand, luxury is expected to be something with a quality that sets it far above the ordinary product.”
The survey comes as luxury sales have been booming over the past six years and splurging by the wealthy appears to be reaching new heights. A few years ago, according to an Associate Press article, a must-have handbag sold for $500 but today it sells for well over $1,000. Coach has a $10,000 crocodile handbag and Louis Vuitton has a $50,000 one. A shoe by designer du jour Christian Louboutin tops $1,000. Montblanc recent sold a $700,000 pen in days in its Manhattan store. At Cartier, $1 million to $2 million sales checks – rare a few years ago – are common.
“There’s this insatiable appetite for the most luxurious,” said Faith Hope Consolo, a real estate broker who has opened posh stores in the U.S. for European designers such as Versace and Valentino over the past two decades.
The only one interviewed by the Associated Press who seemed to agree with the Conference Board’s view was Carol Brodie, chief luxury officer of the Robb Report. She said the superrich don’t want just the expensive; they are looking for the rarest item, something custom-made and the best quality. Unlike the 1980s and 1990s, “it’s not about the logos. It shouts quietly.”
Discussion Questions: Do you think the Conference Board’s survey illustrates that what luxury spenders ‘say’ and ‘do” are completely different things? Or do you see a new luxury consumer who puts greater value on experiences, comfort and beauty over conspicuous consumption?
- Luxury Consumers Around The World Are Very Similar – The Consumer Research Center of The Conference Board/PRnewswire
- A-listers go for extreme spending – The Associated Press