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Affluency: Three Trends to Watch for 2012

By Published on . 3

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Source: Ipsos Mendelsohn

As we start the new year, many in the worlds of media and advertising are digging out from holiday-spending reports, and reflecting on what those shopping patterns tell us about consumer behavior and the American mindset. It's a good time to look back and look forward. In that spirit, let's look at the data we've collected about Affluent's shopping patterns throughout the year, and distill it into three key takeaways to help marketers prepare for 2012 and beyond.

1. Value remains a top priority. Value has been one of the predominant marketplace themes for more than four years, growing in importance since the earliest days of the Great Recession. Our annual Ipsos Mendelsohn Affluent Survey -- a nationally representative study of more than 14,000 adults living in households with at least $100,000 in annual household income -- has explored the value-orientation that continues to be prevalent, even among financially successful Americans. When our 2011 annual survey was underway in Q1 and Q2…

  • 78% of affluents agreed, "When it comes to quality, I believe you get what you pay for."
  • 60% of affluents agreed, "Even though the recession is 'officially' over, I am still spending money much more cautiously than I used to."
  • Only 18% of affluents agreed, "I tend to buy based on price, not quality."

Our September and October 2011 Ipsos Mendelsohn Affluent Barometer surveys found that value remains a prevalent theme today, even when consumers consider luxury purchases -- for example, 89% agree, "When I decide to purchase a luxury item, I go out of my way to find the best price possible." Conversely, only 22 % of affluents agree, "If a luxury product goes on sale, it lessens the perception of luxury."

2. Online shopping remains tremendously strong. This holiday season may show some weakness in overall spending, but our surveys suggest that online shopping will have remained strong through the holiday season (a conclusion that appears to be consistent with sales figures from Cyber Monday). Indeed, online shopping has long ceased being a niche aspect of affluents' marketplace lives, and has come to rival their in-store shopping, at least in terms of "share of lifestyle," if not "share of dollars." For example, our November 2011 Affluent Barometer reveals that , among affluents…

  • On average, they tell us that three out of their last 10 purchases were online
  • 62% agree, "Online shopping sites usually provide a more convenient shopping experience than in-person retail stores."
  • Affluents were evenly split in their agreement with this statement: "For most of the things I buy, I would rather shop online than shop in a retail store." One-third agreed, one-third disagreed, and one-third were in the middle.
  • 14% of affluents indicated they belong to Amazon Prime (25% of affluents aged 18-34). Two-thirds of Affluent Amazon Prime members agree, "My online shopping has increased significantly since I joined Amazon Prime."

3. Affluents are strategic shoppers. Window shopping, browser, and "shopping as sport" attitudes may all be less prevalent than a few years ago. It's certainly clear that much Affluent shopping is carefully thought through and evaluated. Specifically, among affluents…

  • 64% agree, "I regularly read online reviews of products before making an online purchase."
  • 47% agree, "I regularly read online reviews of products before making a purchase in a retail store."
  • 68% agree, "When I go shopping online, I usually know exactly what I want to buy."
  • 63% agree, "When I go shopping in a retail store, I usually know exactly what I want to buy."
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Bob Shullman and Stephen Kraus are president and chief research and insights officer of Ipsos Mendelsohn, respectively. The Ipsos Mendelshon Affluent Study has looked at trends affecting this demographic for 35 years. The Affluency column appears monthly on AdAgeStat.

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