American Marketer


Affluent citizens harder to pin down globally: McCann study

September 25, 2013

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A new study by McCann Truth Central found that 68 percent of affluent citizens around the world describe themselves as more passionate about their interests than the average person, while 88 percent said they were unaware that they were technically affluent.

“The Truth About Affluence” study also found that multiple private homes, luxury cars and club memberships are considered to be the top hard assets of affluent global citizens, while poise and posture are the most widely recognized social cues indicating affluence. As the possibility of affluence becomes accessible to more people around the globe, its meaning will continue to evolve and gradations will emerge.

“We were amazed that the more subtle indicators were ahead of the more conspicuous luxury indicators such as carrying the right handbag, wearing the right watch,” said Laura Simpson, global director of McCann Truth Central, New York.

“In a world where it is increasingly hard to tell who is affluent, how do you find those people, how do you hone your rich radar and antennae?” she said.

McCann Truth Central conducted a 4,000-person online survey of the top 20 percent of populations in key centers of commerce and culture around the world as defined by annual household income and net worth. Truth Central also ran two-hour, in-house dinner parties with groups of affluent individuals.

Who are they?

Truth Central found that only 12 percent of those surveyed realized that they were in the top 20 percent globally in terms of annual household income and net worth.

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When asked what hard assets are integral to an affluent person’s life, 69 percent of respondents cited multiple private homes and real estate. Fifty-five percent of respondents chose multiple luxury cars and 54 percent said club memberships and credit cards.

The top male indicators of affluence in the study were shoes, coats and jewelry. The top female indicators of affluence were jewelry, bags and cosmetics.

However, these easily identified items were often ranked as less important than social cues such as poise and posture.

New stereotypes

Although a propensity for risk-taking is widely associated with affluence, only 25 percent of respondents mentioned a willingness to take risks.

Fifty-one percent of respondents ranked hard work as the primary precursor of affluence. Thirty-two percent of respondents cited education, while 29 percent said passion.

Puglia villa

Affluent citizens generally believed that affluence is within reach of everyone if they try hard enough. This sentiment was expressed 65 percent globally and by 95 percent of participants in Mexico City.

Ninety-percent of respondents also claimed that it is more important to be happy than affluent.

Furthermore, time was regarded by 33 percent of consumers as the most precious resource, followed by mental energy and physical energy.

Ultimately, the study determined that those technically deemed affluent have retained the ambition that drove them there.

"There was such a strong emphasis on hard work, which doesn’t sound sexy but is really consistent and you do see some differences between markets," Ms. Simpson said.

Please email for an executive summary of the study

Final take
Joe McCarthy, editorial assistant on Luxury Daily, New York