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Consumer Attitudes Toward Luxury Goods - US - March 2011

While the economy has had an impact on luxury sales, it is also apparent that many consumers still have an affinity for luxury goods and thus are seeking them out in large numbers. It is also clear that consumer definitions of “luxury” are changing and now encompass the superpremium goods, such as designer clothing, that have traditionally been associated with the term, as well as other more mundane categories like electronics.

In order to provide retailers and manufacturers of luxury goods with insights that can be leveraged to help drive sales and create enticing products, Mintel published this report, which addresses the following questions:

  • How do consumers in the U.S. define “luxury” purchases and how does the definition vary across demographic segments?
  • What types of luxury purchases are most common, and within which categories are large numbers of Americans interested in upgrading to luxury?
  • How have the recession and the sluggish recovery impacted consumer perceptions of “luxury”?
  • What are the most common drivers of luxury purchases and how does the influence of these drivers vary across demographic segments?
  • Which segments of the population are making the most luxury purchases annually?

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Table of contents

  1. Scope and Themes

      • Definition
        • Consumer survey data
          • Term
          • Executive Summary

            • Many consumers have a very broad definition of “luxury”
              • Electronics, jewelry, and clothing often cited as luxury purchases
                • Discounts remain a key purchase driver
                  • Many avoid “obvious designer initials/patterns/logos”
                    • Many motivated by the desire to treat or reward themselves
                      • One third say they are buying less while 29% state the economy has no impact
                      • Insights and Opportunities

                        • Connect with young adults and affluents through luxury blogs
                          • Luxuo.com
                            • Figure 1: Continental Mobiles advertisement on luxuo.com, February 2011
                          • Luxist.com
                            • Figure 2: Haute Look advertisement on luxist.com, February 2011
                            • Figure 3: Quantcast.com estimates for luxist.com, February 2011
                          • Pursuitist.com
                            • Figure 4: Quantcast.com estimates for pursuitist.com, February 2011
                          • Target Asian segments
                            • Figure 5: Top 10 states, by Asian buying power, 2008
                          • Consider partnering with Groupon.com
                          • Inspire Insights

                              • Trend: Eastern Boom
                              • Innovations and Innovators

                                • Innovative online discounters could change the nature of luxury retailing
                                  • Going Viral
                                    • Luxury goes mobile
                                    • Defining Luxury Purchases

                                      • Key points
                                        • Most still define luxury based on brand
                                          • Figure 6: Trends in luxury purchase definitions, December 2009 vs. November-December 2010
                                        • Brand and exclusivity key to women’s definitions
                                          • Figure 7: Defining luxury purchases, by gender, November-December 2010
                                        • Affluents more likely to associate brand with luxury
                                          • Nordstrom acquires HauteLook to appeal to frugal luxury users
                                            • Figure 8: Defining luxury purchases, by household income, November-December 2010
                                        • The Influence of Discounts and Price

                                          • Key point
                                            • Many avoid price premiums while searching for luxury bargains
                                              • Figure 9: Trends in luxury item shopping habits, December 2009 vs. December 2010
                                            • Most women who buy luxury are searching for bargains
                                              • Figure 10: Luxury item shopping habits, by gender, November-December 2010
                                            • Young adults more likely to purchase luxury, but many driven by discounts
                                              • Figure 11: Luxury item shopping habits, by age, November-December 2010
                                            • Most from lower-income households need strong incentive to buy luxury
                                              • Figure 12: Luxury item shopping habits, by household income, November-December 2010
                                          • Recent Luxury Purchases

                                            • Key point
                                              • Men prefer electronic luxury while women focus on beauty and bags
                                                • Figure 13: Recent luxury purchases, by gender, November-December 2010
                                              • Middle-aged buy jewelry; young adults spend on technology and clothing
                                                • Figure 14: Recent luxury purchases, by age, November-December 2010
                                              • Handbag and jewelry purchases mostly come from upper-income segments
                                                • Figure 15: Recent luxury purchases, by household income, November-December 2010
                                            • Desired Luxury Upgrades by Category

                                              • Key point
                                                • Men prefer electronics and car upgrades; women want clothing and beauty
                                                  • Figure 16: Desired luxury upgrades, by gender, November-December 2010
                                                • Boomers seek cars, jewelry, and home upgrades
                                                  • Figure 17: Desired luxury upgrades, by age, November-December 2010
                                              • Number of Luxury Items Purchased

                                                • Key point
                                                  • Young adults tend to make more luxury purchases
                                                    • Figure 18: Number of luxury items purchased in past 12 months, by age, November-December 2010
                                                  • Women over index on luxury purchases
                                                    • Figure 19: Number of luxury items purchased in past 12 months, by gender, November-December 2010
                                                • Opinions Regarding Luxury Brands

                                                  • Key points
                                                    • Most still avoid products with obvious designer labels
                                                      • Figure 20: Trends in opinions regarding luxury brands, December 2009 vs. November-December 2010
                                                    • Young adults show affinity for designer labels
                                                      • Figure 21: Opinions regarding luxury brands, by age, November-December 2010
                                                    • Exclusivity key factor for affluents, yet many avoid labels
                                                      • Figure 22: Opinions regarding luxury brands, by household income, November-December 2010
                                                  • How Recession Impacted Luxury Buying Behavior

                                                    • Key points
                                                      • Number reporting fewer luxury purchases on the decline
                                                        • Figure 23: How recession has impacted luxury buying behavior, December 2009 vs. November-December 2010
                                                      • Women somewhat more likely to report fewer purchases
                                                        • Figure 24: How recession has impacted luxury buying behavior, by gender, November-December 2010
                                                      • Many lower-income consumers motivated to purchase by discounts
                                                        • Figure 25: How recession has impacted luxury buying behavior, by household income, November-December 2010
                                                    • Motivations for Luxury Purchases

                                                      • Key point
                                                        • Desire for a treat/indulgence key motivator for women
                                                          • Figure 26: Motivation for luxury purchases, by gender, November-December 2010
                                                        • Many young buy luxury to reward themselves
                                                          • Figure 27: Motivation for luxury purchases, by age, November-December 2010
                                                        • Many affluents driven to purchase by perceptions of superior quality
                                                          • Figure 28: Motivation for luxury purchases, by household income, November-December 2010
                                                      • Race/Hispanic Origin

                                                        • Key points
                                                          • Asians hold unique attitudes and are a high-value segment
                                                            • Figure 29: Defining luxury purchases, by race/Hispanic origin, November-December 2010
                                                          • Many Asians only buy luxury when they are getting a bargain
                                                            • Figure 30: Luxury item shopping habits, by race/Hispanic origin, November-December 2010
                                                          • Exclusivity key to Asian luxury shoppers
                                                            • Figure 31: Opinions regarding luxury brands, by race/Hispanic origin, November-December 2010
                                                          • Quality/craftsmanship key to many whites
                                                            • Figure 32: Motivation for luxury purchases, by race/Hispanic origin, November-December 2010
                                                        • Cluster Analysis

                                                            • Exclusives
                                                              • Demographics
                                                                • Characteristics
                                                                  • Opportunity
                                                                    • Taggers
                                                                      • Demographics
                                                                        • Characteristics
                                                                          • Opportunity
                                                                            • Treaters
                                                                              • Demographics
                                                                                • Characteristics
                                                                                  • Opportunity
                                                                                    • Cluster characteristics
                                                                                      • Figure 33: Luxury good clusters, December 2010
                                                                                      • Figure 34: Luxury purchases made in the last year, by luxury good clusters, December 2010
                                                                                      • Figure 35: Trends in luxury purchase definitions, by luxury good clusters, December 2010
                                                                                      • Figure 36: Trends in opinions regarding luxury brands, by luxury good clusters, December 2010
                                                                                      • Figure 37: Motivation for luxury purchases, by luxury good clusters, December 2010
                                                                                    • Cluster demographics
                                                                                      • Figure 38: Luxury good clusters, by gender, December 2010
                                                                                      • Figure 39: Luxury good clusters, by age group, December 2010
                                                                                      • Figure 40: Luxury good clusters, by household income, December 2010
                                                                                      • Figure 41: Luxury good clusters, by race, December 2010
                                                                                      • Figure 42: Luxury good clusters, by Hispanic origin, December 2010
                                                                                    • Cluster methodology
                                                                                    • Custom Consumer Groups

                                                                                        • Affluent women most likely to associate established brands with luxury
                                                                                            • Figure 43: Defining luxury purchases, by gender and household income, November-December 2010
                                                                                          • Young men focus on tech, while women focus more on beauty and bags
                                                                                            • Figure 44: Recent luxury purchases, by gender and age, November-December 2010
                                                                                          • Young men report most luxury purchases
                                                                                              • Figure 45: Number of luxury items purchased in past 12 months, by gender and age, November-December 2010
                                                                                            • Young blacks most likely to report only buying when they get a bargain
                                                                                              • Figure 46: Luxury item shopping habits, by race/Hispanic origin and age, November-December 2010
                                                                                            • Mature men often avoid designer logos and malls
                                                                                                • Figure 47: Opinions regarding luxury brands, by gender and age, November-December 2010
                                                                                              • Appearance and reward factor key driver for young adults
                                                                                                • Figure 48: Motivation for luxury purchases, by gender and age, November-December 2010
                                                                                            • Appendix: Other Useful Consumer Tables

                                                                                                • Figure 49: Defining luxury purchases, by age, November-December 2010
                                                                                                • Figure 50: Desired luxury upgrades, by household income, November-December 2010
                                                                                                • Figure 51: Opinions regarding luxury brands, by gender, November-December 2010
                                                                                                • Figure 52: How recession has impacted luxury buying behavior, by age, November-December 2010
                                                                                            • Appendix: Trade Associations

                                                                                              Companies Covered

                                                                                              • AT&T Inc.
                                                                                              • Coach, Inc.
                                                                                              • Coca-Cola Company (The) (USA)
                                                                                              • Estée Lauder Companies Inc. (The)
                                                                                              • Etsy
                                                                                              • Gianni Versace S.p.A.
                                                                                              • Giorgio Armani S.p.A.
                                                                                              • Kohl's Corporation
                                                                                              • LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton SA
                                                                                              • Prada USA Corp.
                                                                                              • Sephora

                                                                                              Consumer Attitudes Toward Luxury Goods - US - March 2011

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