IPSOS recently hosted their annual Affluent Outlook event at the Time Warner Media Labs in New York City. The IPSOS affluence research seeks to uncover the future marketing trends and opportunities in the U.S., with a particular focus on how these attitudes evolve over time. The current findings revealed divergent optimism among affluent American consumers: In 2016, the affluent are optimistic for themselves, but worry for the state of the nation as a whole.
This tension at the core of the affluent consumer outlook demonstrates a white space for brands to explore today and in the future. On the one hand, there is a great deal of global uncertainty in the context of terrorism, climate change and political indecision that leads to a lack of confidence and a sense of distrust in the minds of the Affluent population. On the other hand, this population feels a great deal of optimism from a personal perspective, opting to instead invest in themselves and their families in order to make the most out of life.
Following the presentation, a panel of experts discussed the findings. The panel featured Nadia Tuma-Weldon, Director of McCann Truth Central, McCann Worldgroup’s thought leadership group. In addition to leading The Truth about Global Brands and The Truth About Privacy, Nadia recently launched the McCann Tastemakers Council, an initiative to build insights around the luxury category and affluent population. Joining her on the panel was Christian Crews, a futurist and leader of the Foresight Practice at Kalypso, and Natalie Monbiot, SVP Managing Partner for Digital at Universal McCann.
The panel discussed several areas in response to findings, particularly as it relates the implications for both people and brands in a world of uncertainty. In the research, Affluents demonstrated a renewed interest in traditional luxury brands like Rolex and Chanel. Asked why this might be the case, Nadia Tuma-Weldon said, “Luxury brands by definition are supposed to represent a sense of certainty in an uncertain world. ”
Questions about the sharing economy led to a discussion of design in the age of luxury. Given an increasing focus on “experiences over things,” and the growing importance of fewer, but better, possessions, Christian Crews emphasized that, “In a shared economy, design will move towards high-cost and long-lasting products.” That is, in the future, there will be fewer, higher quality, goods present but they will be used by a greater number of people.
Given the threat of climate change in the zeitgeist, Nadia Tuma-Weldon added that “Luxury is already at the forefront of sustainability. If you think about the way that luxury goods are created – using natural materials, employing trained craftsmen, and building things meant to last for generations, you’re not likely to find a Louis Vuitton bag in a landfill.” Crews added the extensive re-sale market for luxury goods in the U.S.
Natalie Mobiot also discussed at length the proliferation of AI and “smart devices” in the lives of affluent individuals, providing personalization, assistance and intelligence. She is exploring the ways in which brands can and should create relationships with affluent individuals that are not only useful, but highly adaptable. However, in this context Tuma-Weldon added that given all the ways in which brands use people’s data, there is certainly a growing sense that in order to hold onto some degree of privacy, consumers will increasingly need to pay for this firewall, stating,”In a world of constant messaging and smartphone alerts, privacy may very well be the new luxury.” Privacy will increasingly be become a commodity of the wealthy.
To hear the rest of the presentation and dynamic panel discussion, please download the webinar here.