Survey: Affluent consumer is changing

Today’s affluent consumers have a fresh perspective on the good life, according to the American Express Platinum Luxury Survey, a new study of the affluent consumer.

According to the survey, more than half of affluent consumers (59%) receive the greatest personal satisfaction from experiences, such as fine dining, travel, entertainment, cultural/arts events, and sporting events, according to the study. On average, affluent consumers spent $10,060 on these luxuries over the past 12 months. A total of 21% of those surveyed say they get the greatest satisfaction from personal luxuries, such as automobiles, fashion and jewelry and on average they spent $14,270 on personal luxuries over the past 12 months. About 20% enjoy home luxuries most, such as furniture, kitchenware, and linens and bedding and on average respondents spent $12,300 on home luxuries over the past 12 months.

“In the real world, affluent consumers aren’t relaxing poolside or eating bonbons,” said Peggy Maher, senior vice president and general manager, Consumer Charge Card, American Express “They’re working long hours, juggling personal and professional lives, and are constantly pressed for time. For instance, our affluent Cardmembers are looking to ease their busy, often hectic, lives with experiences that will make them feel special, whether it be a massage, a night out with fine dining and entertainment, or taking a luxurious vacation abroad.”

“Twenty years ago the affluent lifestyle was focused on having and obtaining more material things, but the ‘new’ luxury paradigm finds affluent consumers pursuing new life experiences,” said Pam Danziger, author of the book, Why People Buy Things They Don’t Need, and president of Unity Marketing, which conducted the American Express Platinum Luxury Survey. “Today, affluent consumers are far more interested in living well and smartly rather than ‘keeping up with the Joneses’.”

Those survey respondents who said they value experiences most spent an average of $26,401 on experiential luxury services in the past 12 months, more than double that of all survey respondents. The most popular experiences are fine dining and luxury travel.

The majority of these affluent consumers (79%) said fine dining was the number one experience they enjoyed over the last 12 months. A total of 76% enjoyed fine dining once a month or more at a luxury restaurant and spent on average $5,990 on dining in the past year.

These affluent consumers also travel often and in style: more than two- thirds (68%) took an average of six personal trips in the past year and spent $12,650 on average on personal travel. Relaxation is a top priority, with 47% citing relaxation and freedom from stress as the top reasons for travel. Nearly all (90%) agreed that traveling was a desirable way to “break out of the day-to-day routine.”

When the affluent travel, the majority (56%) said creating memorable experiences was the most important vacation criteria. Eighty-seven percent said they expect to spend the same or more on fine dining in the next year and 81% said they expect to spend the same or more on personal travel.