Study Finds New Definition of "Traditional" Critical to Brands Seeking to Reach Multi-Billion Consumer Market
NEW YORK, NY May 28, 2004 -- If you're a marketer of luxury brands seeking to expand your reach into the rapidly growing marketplace of affluent women age 40 and over, a new survey finds that the old stereotypes of luxury are being redefined and reshaped for the 21st century.
The survey, conducted for Traditional Home magazine by Applied Research & Consulting LLC, finds that brand traits such as "quality" and "performance" consistently outweigh attributes such as "prestige" and "luxury" in influencing buying decisions among the affluent women's market.
"These women have achieved a level of financial security in their professional and personal lives that gives them the confidence to not only acquire the best products available in the marketplace, but also feel they can judge the value of these products on their performance," says Traditional Home publisher Brenda Saget Darling. "Their financial maturity enables them to have many options when it comes to purchasing higher end products, and marketers need to understand that with this maturity comes a very sophisticated and confident buyer."
She notes for example that 98 percent of those surveyed state that they are confident in their purchase choices, and 92 percent (nine out of 10) are confident in their investment decisions, which for many is how they base their purchase behavior.
How important is quality relative to other attributes? According to the survey, 95 percent of respondents say that they will spend top dollar to get high quality craftsmanship, and, similarly, 93 percent will spend top dollar to get good performance.
Conversely, less than four out of 10 respondents state that they will spend top dollar simply for a prestigious brand.
"Marketers trying to reach this important audience should take note of companies such as BMW and Volvo who have been leaders in building their brands with this group," says Andy Tuck, Ph.D., founder of Applied Research & Consulting. "These women are key decision makers in the household, and they are transforming the way that upscale products are purchased. Marketers who ignore their influence are missing a tremendous opportunity."
When it comes to automobile purchase decisions for example, the affluent sample of survey respondents state that on a scale of one to 10, characteristics such as "reliability" (9.6) and "quality" (9.3) score extremely high versus characteristics such as "luxury" (6.6) and "prestige" (5.0).
This nationwide study, which consisted of both in-home ethnographic interviews along with a nationally projectable survey of high income households (nearly half (45%) are from households with incomes over $200,000), also reveals that marketers need to change their approach when it comes to calling this audience "traditional" because of their upscale preferences.
According to the survey, respondents define their traditional lifestyles as being "real" (86%); "busy" (85%); and "comfortable" (79%). However, less than one in four describe their lifestyle as "adventuresome" (21%); "luxurious" (16%); or "fancy" (7%).
In fact, as a whole this group doesn't even consider themselves to be "upper class." Instead, the vast majority consider themselves to be either "upper middle class" (38%) or "comfortable" (30%), with less than 10 percent describing their financial situation as either "affluent" (7%) or "wealthy" (3%).
"Despite the fact that they represent a very high end of the socioeconomic scale, these women don't view themselves as being wealthy," says Tuck. "This speaks volumes to how to approach them when marketing an upscale brand."
The study notes that while they consider themselves "traditional," their view of the term is greatly expanded. According to the findings, eight out of 10 respondents (83%) view traditional as being "the very best of different periods including today." The survey also finds that six out 10 (63%) of respondents say this belief is reflected in their homes which are a "blend of the best styles and products from the past and present."
"Words such as 'old-fashioned,' 'formal' or 'exclusive' are no longer relevant to this segment of the marketplace," says Saget Darling. "The new traditionalists define their lives with words such as 'classic,' 'timeless,' 'elegant,' 'warm,' 'sophisticated' and 'adaptable'. These women want the best of everything but in a very modern sense."
Other key findings from the survey include:
* While almost equal numbers of respondents consider themselves to be a good judge of quality (97%) and will spend top dollar to get high quality craftsmanship (95%), only slightly more than a third (37%) will spend top dollar for a prestigious brand.
* Less than one quarter (23%) of those surveyed describe their home as luxurious, or describe their lifestyle as being luxurious (16%).
* Nine out of 10 respondents (92%) say they'll never be finished decorating and redecorating their home.
* Two-thirds of respondents (65%) say they will spend more money to get top quality versus only one third (35%) who say they seek out bargains and discounts.
* Technology has been embraced by those surveyed for an array of products:
three out of four (72%) already own a digital camera (21% say they are likely to purchase one); three out of four (74%) have DSL or another high-speed Internet connection (16% say they are likely to purchase); and more than half (57%) own a laptop computer (20% say they are likely to purchase).
* Interestingly, while only one-quarter (25%) own a flat screen television, almost half (46%) say they are likely to purchase one.
The Traditional Home survey was conducted by Applied Research & Consulting during the period of March 2004. The telephone-based survey respondents consisted of more than 400 affluent female homeowners age 35-50 with a median household income of $150,000. The margin of error for the survey was +/- four percent at a 95 percent confidence level.
About Traditional Home
Traditional Home (www.traditionalhome.com), an upscale design and decorating publication targeting affluent readers that combines classic taste and modern style, has been the best-selling shelter magazine at newsstands for nine consecutive years. Launched in 1989, the magazine is the largest upscale shelter magazine in the country, has a circulation of 950,000 and is published eight times a year.
About Applied Research and Consulting
Applied Research & Consulting LLC is a corporate consulting firm that offers analysis and strategic insights for business and government based on an in-depth understanding of human attitudes, behavior, and the social contexts in which decision-making takes place. Founded in 1995, the firm has built an international portfolio of clients in sectors ranging from entertainment to consumer products to public policy.
Kim Kudasik, (212) 551-6955, e-mail protected from spam bots
Patrick Taylor, (212) 551-6984, e-mail protected from spam bots
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