The ‘part time’ affluent consumer

A throwaway statistic on Britain’s love affair with lifestyle luxuries (we apparently spent a whopping £149 billion, an average of £5,850 per household, last year on luxury “essentials”) has got us thinking about the term ‘affluent consumer’ and whether this catch- all term for a high earner has the same relevance it once had.

The ‘one fifth of the US holds 70% of the wealth’ argument certainly holds some statistical weight when it comes to targeting the $100k+ earners. However, it doesn’t really require an Ipsos report to work out that rich people buy more stuff.

Heck, I would if I were rich.

Now we could wax lyrical about the innumerable ways to target the deep pockets of the uber wealthy, or the shifting lines that define this lucrative demographic, however, there is another group that deserves some much-needed attention - the part-time affluent.

For certain brands it isn't a necessity that a consumer is wealthy across the board; they just need a consumer to have an affluent 'perception' of themselves in one area – be it travel, cosmetics, fashion, etc. This is where we come back to the £149 billion UK "Lifestyle essentials" expenditure stat. Even the most recession-wracked consumer has a luxury breaking point, something they cannot do without, something they pay over the odds for. In that purchase moment they act as an affluent consumer. To highlight the origins of the word itself, money 'flows freely'.

The guy who pays out for a luxury limited-edition box set by his favourite band is not ‘Affluent’ in the true sense of the word; neither is the women who pays over the odds for high end cosmetics. However, their passion led spending tells a different story.

The key difference here is that an affluent consumer will buy your brand because he wants it and can afford it, whereas a part-time affluent will buy it because it holds a special place in their life. To the true affluent luxury goods become necessities, for the rest of us our one affluent styled moment of excess is rooted in a deeper emotional response to a product.

There is a big difference between the consumer that spends over the odds simply because they can and those that will sacrifice other more essential items because of brand love.

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