Affluent to Increase Spending, Show Commitment to Green Products

Evidence of "frugal fatigue" resulting from the past two years of reduced spending surfaced in a new survey by The American Affluence Research Center that shows plans for increased spending in 17 product categories by affluent and luxury consumers. 

The Affluent Market Tracking Study #17, a survey of the wealthiest 10% of U.S. households, predicts slightly higher spending during the next 12 months despite their skeptical outlook for the economy and personal household income. Plans for changes in spending are well above historic lows established in the Spring 2009 survey but remain below pre-​recession levels.

Consistent with the Fall 2009 survey, this new survey indicates the concepts of "new normal," "stealth wealth," and "luxury shame," to the limited extent they existed, have been replaced by "frugal fatigue" among many luxury and affluent consumers.

Given the very negative rating of current business conditions by the affluent, their modest expectation of some improvement during the next 12 months is not particularly optimistic. They also show little enthusiasm for anticipated changes in the stock market and their personal household income.

Changes in spending plans for 8 major items and 17 different categories of products continued to build upon the strengthening first evident in the Fall 2009 survey, but plans remain soft compared to prior reports in this 8 year series of twice-​yearly surveys. This reflects continuing caution and concern among some affluent.

About 56% believe they are doing their part to help the environment, while 30% feel they should be doing more.

A third currently own none of the 7 "green" products listed. The most commonly owned green items are compact fluorescent light bulbs (45%), low flow toilets or faucets (44%), and EnergyStar appliances (40%). Green cleaning products (27%) was the only other item owned by more than 10%.

Half of the affluent do not expect to buy any of the 7 listed green products during the next five years. The most frequently anticipated purchases are a hybrid automobile (24%) and EnergyStar appliances (22%).

The Affluent Market Tracking Study #17.  The American Affluence Research Center. 22 Apr. 2010.  Web.  26 Apr. 2010.