We highlight the major findings of a study released today by American Express,  showing that Canada’s most wealthy individuals are going through a re evaluation of their lifestyles and attitudes.
Excess and gratuitous consumption are out, says the “Inside the Affluent Space” study, replaced by a more introverted and new ‘individualist’ mindset. Fuelled by the current economic environment the study reveals however that an underlying trend has emerged over the past few years that has affluent Canadians asking themselves “What is it that is really important to me?” For many, the answer seems to be, authenticity and life enhancing experiences.
“Financial caution in the current economy is definitely driving a more restrained and pragmatic attitude. But our research shows that the attitude changes among the wealthy are more deep rooted and fundamental,” says Trevor Van Nest, vice president of consumer card marketing at American Express Canada. “The affluent are still willing to spend on things that are meaningful to them and will somehow make their lives better. It’s about enriching their lives, not simply being rich.”

This mentality shift has led to the emergence of the ‘individualist’ – a wealthy consumer who is more selective, less impulsive, and in many respects much more discerning and consequently harder to serve from a business perspective. For them the notion of ‘mass luxury’ is a contradiction. They are interested in products, services and experiences that are more personalized and unique. They are interested in relationships rather than transactions. Acquiring knowledge and a greater depth of appreciation for the luxuries their wealth can afford them is more meaningful than merely acquiring possessions. “For many affluent Canadians, luxury is equated to ease and balance in life. This is even more evident in the current economic climate, with consumers evaluating each purchase to ensure that it provides worth and contributes to their overall lifestyle,” says Van Nest.
In particular, American Express has identified four new insights that define the ‘individualist’ mindset, including:

Lifestyle exclusivity is what matters – The new luxury is a lifestyle that is unique. Affluent Canadians want to be able to enjoy what is important to them.

Excess is out – The ‘individualist’ wants what is unknown and hard-to-get. Being different and authentic is more important than impressing others.

Time is like titanium – The ‘individualist’ is in passionate pursuit of ways to leverage their resources to create more time to spend with family, friends and on themselves.

Freedom from complexity – The ‘individualist’ expects personalized service by expert providers who understand their lifestyle and deliver on their expectations.

Marketplace Implications

The desire for differentiation, demands on their time and the new realities of the economic situation mean that value and service is everything.

Affluent Canadians are looking for expert partners that truly understand their needs and expectations and will take the work and complexity out of achieving their personal aspirations. The winners in the affluent marketplace will be those companies who fully appreciate what it takes to connect with these very important customers. Their reward is not only a higher spending customer, but one that is willing to build a long-term relationship that can last for many profitable years. Personalization should be a priority for luxury service providers who are hoping to develop a loyal base of affluent consumers. The research identified trends for consideration by businesses who service the affluent market, including:

– Luxury is not a transaction, it’s a relationship
– Market to the individual, not the masses
– Make convenience a customer service priority
– Expand expertise – think ‘luxury concierge’

Global Findings

Singapore’s Innovator: Redefines luxury beyond tangible possessions to ownership of intangible wealth – exclusive, unique products and experiences that create “talk-value.”

Hong Kong’s Connoisseur: Seeks to discover and develop luxury expertise to create distinction and prestige as a new form of social currency.

India’s Aspirer: Seeks ALL the trappings of the affluent lifestyle NOW to be “branded” affluent.

China’s Pioneer: Fast-forwarding to create a world-class affluent lifestyle and a collective new history shaped by growing wealth and optimism about the future.

Australia’s Valuator: Defines “worth” based on personal satisfaction – confident in personal choices and not influenced by trends or peers.

Japan’s Consummate Luxury Expert : Luxury is a “National Passion” and the affluent lifestyle is self-authenticated, reflecting personal knowledge and individual style.

Europe’s Sophisticate: Luxury is an experience – not a product; seek fulfilment through new experiences and knowledge and define value based on individual preferences and conscience.

Source: CNW Group

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