Advertising Age's Guide To Luxury

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With apologies to F. Scott Fitzgerald, the "very rich" may be "different from you and me," but the not-very-rich also have their eye on luxury products.

That vast middle class is a tantalizing target for luxury marketers. After all, why limit yourself to the 1.3% of U.S. households that can boast a mean income of $250,000 or more?

In a survey by Knowledge Networks and Kaagan Research, most respondents - regardless of their household income - considered themselves to be "middle class"; only 1% considered themselves "upper class".

When asked in this survey how much annual income their families would need to fulfill all their dreams, the largest percentage (25%) said $100,000 - $250,000. That range would seem to hurl their aspirations beyond the middle class, especially since the mean income for U.S. households in 2002 was $57,852, according to Census Bureau data. Only 14.1% of U.S. households had mean incomes of $100,000 or more.

In the Knowledge Networks/Kaagan survey, just 10% said they'd need $1 million or more to fulfill their dreams.

Dollars = Dreams: How much annual income would you and your family need to fulfill all your dreams?

Web Lures: AgencySacks, New York, surveyed senior marketing executives at 16 luxury-oriented companies for this Special Report, and found that the Internet is an important tool for most of these companies trying to reach affluent consumers.

Buy-ways: Ziccardi Partners Frierson Mee, New York, for this Special Report surveyed 750 consumers, 80% of whom have annual incomes topping $150,000; more than 80% of the respondents said they buy luxury products and services more than four times a year. Among the questions they were asked was: What do your luxury purchases reflect about you?

Meeting in the Middle: Which best describes your social class?

Wheels of Fortune: How 2004 is shaping up for premium luxury cars.

What Counts: The following charts include data from two sources: Ad agency Margeotes, Fertitta & Partners, New York, looked into the brand loyalty of those who earn more than $100,000 a year. NOP World's Roper Reports asked respondents about factors that were considered important in their purchase decisions, and from the overall respondent base culled responses for those with incomes of $100,000 or more.

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