During the recession, ultra-affluent consumers cut back on spending. These cutbacks weren’t made out of necessity. The super-rich reduced spending because many consumers frowned on conspicuous consumption. The latest data from American Express indicates that the sentiment of affluent consumers is changing.

As a result of this new attitude, more marketers, especially higher-end amusement parks, are promoting new programs and amenities to this demographic. Some of the offerings involve a new and more expensive twist on amusements. For example, Sea World has been promoting its Discovery Cove concept. Limited admission to the park and high ticket prices allow guests to enjoy a close-to-nature experience while they swim with dolphins in an uncrowded environment.  Business has been so brisk this year, the park is planning to expand.

At the same time, Disney has announced the launch of its Golden Oak resident development which will include private homes and a Four Seasons hotel.  Homes in this community will cost between $1.5 and $8 million. In addition to living in style, owners will have access to special services such as a concierge and hotel amenities.

Commenting on this trend, Matt Kelly, a Disney vice president says, “we saw enough positive signs that we thought this made sense to go ahead and announce the project and move forward.” This positive outlook is supported by American Express numbers which show a 32% increase in theme park spending by ultra-affluent consumers this year. This demographic group includes consumers who charge $84,000 a year on credit cards.

Marketers hope the new spending enthusiasm will spread to a wider swath of consumers.  If it does, ad campaigns will be on the upswing as well.

[Source: Garcia, Jason. “Data suggest the super-rich are opening wallets wider at theme parks.” Los Angeles Times.  17 Jul. 2010. Web  10 Aug. 2010]