Study Examines Purchasing Decision-Drivers Among The Affluent

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A new report examining the factors that shape purchasing decisions among mass-affluent households, those earning more than $100,000 annually, has been released.

MasterCard International said it sponsored the study in response to the "continued emergence of the mass-affluent demographic." The report is based on the Yankelovich MONITOR 2004, an annual study of consumers.

Among the report's key findings, said MasterCard, was that the self-confident and demanding mindset of the mass-affluent consumer means that customization is becoming a necessity, not simply an added convenience, for companies across a range of industries. At the same time, financial services companies are creating new product offerings designed to meet the needs of this market by offering more choice and convenience.

Other findings:

* The mass affluent want to fashion their lives their way and celebrate their own style. For example, 42% want to be seen by others as people who are willing to defy convention, up from just 19% in 2001. More than three-quarters of mass-affluent consumers want to be perceived as being in control of their life, an 11 point increase since 2001.

* The mass affluent are demanding heightened levels of customer service. According to the findings, 85% of mass-affluent consumers say they will speak up when experiencing bad service. Nearly three-quarters will walk out of a store if mistreated, even if the store has exactly what they are looking for. More than half have refused to buy a particular product or service over the past year as a form of activism.

* The mass affluent are embracing the Internet as a means of getting things accomplished. The data indicates that 77% of mass-affluent consumers believe that the Internet has enabled them to do more without the help of others. Among those online, the most popular activities are getting travel information (67%, up from 51% in 2000), shopping for products or services (63%, up from 44%), and purchasing airline tickets (52%, up from 37%).

* The mass affluent place more importance on experiences and relationships than material possessions. For example, 84% think it's important to be seen as someone whose integrity is beyond question, up from 74% last year. The top three signs of life success and achievement cited by mass-affluent consumers were: being satisfied with your life (83%), being in control of your life (80%), and having a good marriage (77%).

* The mass affluent do not consider themselves wealthy. Only 12% of mass-affluent consumers describe themselves as having "a lot of money."

Reluctance To Compromise

"This analysis illustrates that mass-affluent consumers have become increasingly reluctant to compromise and settle on products that do not resonate with them personally," said Ann Clurman, senior partner at Yankelovich. "As a result, we are witnessing the demise of the one-size-fits-all model and the climb of customization. Smart companies realize it's more important than ever to offer innovative products and solutions that are tailored to meet individual wants and needs."

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