Wealth Wave: The Millennials & Their Luxury Aspirations.
By Pam Danziger
Thursday, 13th September 2012
Each generation defines what luxury is - Millennials will bring their own unique perspective and expectations into the luxurymarketplace.

The luxury market is poised to undergo a transformation as a new generation of affluent Millennial customers assume dominance in the marketplace. This transference of consumer power will occur on or about 2018-2020.

Thanks to our understanding of the demographics of affluence, we can reliably predict who among this generation 71 million people strong are on the road to an affluent lifestyle.

This study, Wealth Wave, is an in-depth investigation into the mindset of ambitious, highly-educated young people that will take the lead as luxury customers in the future.

Our Research Goals & Objectives

Unity Marketing set out to investigate the mindset and consumer psychology of young people (aged 24-31 years) on the road to affluence. They were selected to participate in a series of qualitative discussion groups by the following having advanced degrees in high-paying fields (i.e. medical, legal, business adminstration, computers/technical, architecture) and ambitious career goals. The discussions focused on:
  • How are these young people are likely to behave as luxury consumers as their affluence grows?
  • How do they feel about money and wealth?
  • What does luxury mean to them?
  • What is their American Dream? Where does materialism fit? What is the role of status and status symbols?
  • What do they aspire to achieve in their lives?
  • What does a luxury lifestyle mean to them?
Further, the discussion included a deep-dive into these consumers expecations and desires for:
  • Jewelry
  • Wine
  • Fashion apparel and fashion accessories
  • Hotels and hospitality
  • Fine Dining and restaurants
  • Luxury retail including brick-and-mortar stores and online internet shopping experiences.
The people who we studies were in no way representative of their generation. They were selected because they are exceptional, high achieving with ambitious personal goals. They will be luxury marketers' future customers, and their businesses' managers and leaders.

The Findings

This investigation into the mindset of these ambitious young people on the road to affluence uncovered many distinct differences and unique generational perspectives of critical importance to the future success of luxury brands. But perhaps the most profound and potentially troubling one is that for this generation of well educated young people, there is a real danger that luxury is going to be perceived simply as a marketing concept or a term used in a marketing context, not something that has real meaning or resonance to their lives.

Simply calling a brand or a product or an experience a luxury doesn't necessarily make it so, as this discussion from the focus group reveals:

"I can't remember the last time I've actually said the word luxury or luxurious in a sentence. I hear it in a Lexus commercial, but never just talking to my wife or my parents would I say, "I had a luxurious day. [Another] I'd second that. [Mod: Does that mean it [i.e. luxury] doesn't really mean anything to you?] It's watered down. It's just watered down.

Anticipating the future needs and desires of luxury consumers is possible - Plan now for the evolution of a new luxury market brought about by a turnover of a new generation

As of yet, the Millennials have not yet made a significant dent into the luxury market, being still in school, just starting their careers and not yet ascended into the affluent market. Yet these ambitious, highly-educated young people are luxury brands' future customers, and the future leaders of businesses.

By 2020 the Millennial generations' tastes, appetites and desires for luxury lifestyles will be strongly felt. For forward-focused marketers it could mean a coming luxury boom? Or a bust for those that ignore the profound changes this generation will bring.

"It's easier for companies to come up with new ideas than to let go of old ones." - Peter Drucker

Understanding the aspirations of Millennials for a luxury lifestyle is critical for luxury brands, including what money, status, and success means to them. They will need to both innovate with new products, services, marketing strategies and branding concepts, as well as let go of old ideas that will prove ineffective, even counterproductive for marketing to this new generation. Unity Marketing has solutions to help you understand the future luxury market.

This study, Wealth Wave: Millennial and their Luxury Aspirations, includes both an executive summary of key findings and take action strategies (127 summary pages; see Introduction & Methodology pages above for a sample), plus the detail focus group report with quotes and summary of the discussion (103 pages; see Table of Contents above). It gives marketers new insights into the future direction of this generation that will come to the fore in the luxury market starting about 2018 or so.

Get ahead of the curve by reading and studying your future customers

This report will be especially valuable to luxury brands in these key core segments which were discussed in the groups: luxury jewelry; fine dining; luxury hotels and hospitality; luxury fashion, apparel and fashion accessories; luxury wine; and luxury retail including online and internet shopping destinations.

Full report:


Pamela N. Danziger is an internationally recognized expert specializing in consumer insights for marketers targeting the affluent consumer segment. She is president of Unity Marketing, a boutique marketing consulting firm she founded in 1992. Pam received the Global Luxury Award for top luxury industry achievers presented at the Global Luxury Forum in 2007 by Harper's Bazaar.

Unity Marketing specializes in providing business insights into the mind of the affluent consumer.
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