Affluents Are Willing and Able Influencers

December 2, 2019

Prior to making a purchase, many Americans look for the advice of others before forking out their hard-earned dollars. Many seek the opinions of friends or family members first, while others look to online influencers. And chances are they’ll be more likely to look at affluents for advice, per a recent study [download page] from YouGov.

In a survey of a representative sample of affluent US households (those households representing the top 8% of earners), YouGov found that the more affluent an individual is, the more likely they will be asked for purchase advice.

About 3 in 5 (59%) respondents with a household income (HHI) of $350K+ agree that people tend to ask them for advice before buying things. This is compared to 55% of individuals with an HHI of $200K+ who say the same. More telling is that only 42% of Americans on average agree that people ask them for advice before purchasing a product or service.

Affluents don’t seem to mind acting as de facto brand advocates either. In fact, they seem to enjoy it. Some 73% of respondents with an HHI of $350K+ and 69% of those with an HHI of $250K say they love to recommend things for people to try. This sentiment isn’t necessarily exclusive to affluents, however. Three-fifths (61%) of respondents on average, in general, say they love recommending things for people to try.

Even so, those in the highest-income bracket were almost twice as likely as the national average to strongly agree that they love recommending things for people to try (34% and 19%, respectively).

What Do Affluents Look for In a Brand?

Affluents do have criteria they look for in brands they are likely to use and recommend. First and foremost, affluents are looking for brands that are ethical. A full 90% say they want brands that act and communicate in an honest and transparent manner. They also want brands to be consistent in what they say and do (85%), as well as to be authentic (83%) and genuine (83%).

The desire for brands to be ethical is far from new. Research from early 2016 found that other than quality and durability, core values that global consumers look for in a brand are honesty/transparency and authenticity.

That same research also cited a brand’s social activity as a core value, while an even earlier study found more than half of Millennials claiming that a brand’s corporate social responsibility was an influencing factor for purchase decisions. This has not changed today, when more than half of Americans as a whole (53%) and affluents (55%) say it’s important for brands to have a transparent view on wider societal issues.

It’s not just ethics and social responsibility that affluents expect from a brand. They also expect brands to participate in sustainable practices. On the whole, the majority (86%) of US consumers are attracted to brands that are committed to sustainable practices. Unfortunately, two-fifths (41%) of these consumers say that they find it hard to trust brands’ claims about their sustainability.

What separates affluents from the general population of consumers is that they are more likely to boycott a brand if they think it has acted unethically, with 54% saying they had stopped buying goods or services from a brand when they felt the brand conducted business in an unethical manner. This compares to 39% of all consumers.

The full report can be downloaded here.

About the Data: US findings are based on a wider study of a global sample of more than 8,000 respondents in 6 regions across 26 markets. Respondents are the most affluent people in each country with US data being representative of the top 8%.

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