Women Express the Need for Fine Jewelry, Then Men Get Involved

Most wealthy Americans are circumspect when making large purchases, according to a Luxury Institute survey. Among Americans earning at least $150,000 annually, 88 percent of wealthy baby boomers age 45 and over, and 86 percent of the wealthy overall research big-ticket goods and services before purchasing. Nearly half of the wealthy, 44 years of age and younger, even set a budget.

Clear but complementary differences exist between the roles of men and women at various stages of the luxury buying process, according to the survey. To better understand the influence at each step, the Luxury Institute asked wealthy men and women who in the household participates at each of six steps in the purchase cycle: expressing a need; conducting research; evaluating brand options; setting a budget; making a final decision; and making the purchase.

In some categories, women dominate every step of the way. For example, in fine china and glassware, women express a need in 88 percent of households (men do so in 33 percent) and women retain an 81-41 advantage in making the final decision. Even when one partner seems to dominate, there is usually collaboration. For example, 78 percent of wealthy households say that women initially express the need for jewelry. Once the need is expressed, the percentage of men engaged in the purchase process more than doubles—with 54 percent participating in the final decision. In addition, men are more likely than women to make the actual jewelry purchase.

Women are also generally more involved than men with home furnishings and bathroom fixtures, although a majority of men do play significant roles.

In financial affairs, men make the final insurance buying decisions in 85 percent of households, but this is clearly a shared decision: About 46 percent of households say that women decide on insurance. Even in electronics, where men make final buying decisions in 89 percent of households, women are involved in the final purchase in 40 percent—and they provide the spark for electronics purchases in 45 percent of wealthy households.

Respondents had an average net worth of $3 million, and an average annual income of $288,000.  The Luxury Institute, New York, is a ratings and research institution that specializes in high net worth consumers.