Luxury. Which Brands Spring to Mind?

February 26, 2015

This article is included in these additional categories:

Automotive | Boomers & Older | Household Income | Top Brands | Travel & Hospitality | Youth & Gen X

Shullman-Higher-Income-Consumers-Top-Luxury-Brands-Feb2015Higher-income adults (those with household income of at least $75,000) aged 18-68 tend to associate the word “luxury” with descriptive adjectives such as “expensive,” “quality,” and “high-end,” according to a new brief from the Shullman Research Center set for release on Monday. However, not all generations hold the same ideas of luxury – and differences of opinion also abound in their top luxury brands.

Looking first at views of “luxury,” in which respondents were asked to describe in their own words what they think about when they are exposed to the word, the study finds that:

  • Only 2 of the top 20 themes are product-related – cars and travel – with all others adjectives such as “classy” and “high-end;”
  • While the adjective “non-essential” was a top-5 theme for higher-income Boomers (50-68), it did not crack the top 10 for Millennials (18-34) or Gen Xers (35-49);
  • The word “premium” was a top-5 result for Millennials, but was barely in consideration for Gen Xers (#26) and Boomers (#36); and
  • “Cars” was the second-most cited response by Gen Xers, while being only 10th for Millennials and 17th for Boomers.

Given their association of cars with luxury, it’s perhaps not too surprising that automobile brands were the first to spring to mind among higher-income Gen Xers when asked to name their “number one luxury brand in the world.” Indeed, Mercedes Benz ranked first among Gen Xers, followed by BMW and Lexus, with Rolls Royce (#5) also cracking the top 5.

For Boomers, Rolls Royce was the top choice, followed by Rolex, Tiffany, Coach and Cadillac. Illustrating the differences among older and younger generations, just one of those brands made the top 5 among affluent Millennials: Coach (#5). For the young cohort, Gucci was the top-named luxury brand, followed by Lexus, Louis Vuitton, and BMW.

In comparing responses across generations, the results also showed that:

  • Lexus and BMW were top-5 brands for both Millennials and Gen Xers, but neither cracked the top 15 among Boomers;
  • Louis Vuitton, a top-5 brand among Millennials, did not make the top 10 for Gen Xers or Boomers; and
  • Cadillac, the 5th-most cited brand among Boomers (remembering that responses were unaided), was ranked 19th for Millennials and Gen Xers.

Only 4 brands made the top 10 for each of the generations. They were: Rolls Royce; Rolex; Coach; and Chanel.

For a data-driven exploration of affluents’ media preferences, including the relative popularity of various media, usage diaries, and attitudes, see the MarketingCharts Debrief, “Media Habits of the Affluent.”

About the Data: The insights and data presented in the Shullman Research Center report are based on the Shullman Luxury, Affluence and Wealth Pulse, Fall 2014 wave, conducted online between August 22 and August 27, 2014, among adults age 18 or older. Five sample groups (a total of 1,665 respondents) were surveyed that included a representative national sample of adults (1,003 interviews), plus four household-income segments that were targeted to obtain the following number of completed interviews, resulting in a total of 1,056 interviews among upscale consumers with household incomes of at least $75,000.

Survey results were weighted on demographic characteristics to reflect estimates from the March 2013 Current Population Survey of the Bureau of the Census released in September 2013.

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