Study: Family time and charity replace material goods for wealthy consumers


It is no longer all about big brands and flashy items for the well-off, but family time and charity that now drive how wealthy consumers spend. This was among the findings of the Visa Affluent Study 2013 released recently.

The study, conducted across Asia-Pacific and the Middle East, looked at affluent consumers’ spending habits, priorities, optimism about the future and indexed their propensity to spend on discretionary items in the future.

The results showed that China, followed by India and Indonesia, are the countries with the most positive outlook on the economy which in turn led to them stating that they were planning to spend more on discretionary items over the coming year.

Meanwhile, Japan ranked the lowest in terms of future discretionary spending and were more pessimistic about economic growth. However, in markets such as Hong Kong, South Korea and Singapore, the affluent plan to spend modestly despite their lack of confidence in the economy.

The top drivers of future discretionary spending were family holidays, donations to charity and evenings out.

Wealthy consumers in China and Hong Kong prioritize spending on evenings out, while Indonesians rated buying a new car and jewelry as their top spending priorities, as well as family holidays.

The study also revealed that more than four out of five respondents believe that sharing a full life with their family and friends is what matters most to them, with only half saying that owning the best brands defined luxury for them. Furthermore, unique experiences with personalised services rated highly with the affluent in India (83 percent) and China (80 percent).

James Lim, Head of Consumer Products, Asia Pacific, Central Europe, Middle East and Africa, Visa, said that what is perhaps most surprising is that most of the affluent agree that wealth is not about physical status symbols such as the latest designer handbag or flashy watch, but about experiences and enjoying life to the full with friends and family.

“They are also increasingly motivated to assume greater responsibility towards helping others, which is reflected by the average affluent respondent making five charitable donations last year,” he said.

The meaning of affluence was also generally agreed upon across the regions with one exception; China. The top earners in China believe that affluence creates influence (81 percent).

In other countries, affluence is perceived as insurance, providing certainty in an uncertain world (73 per cent) and as a means to give back to society (71 percent). Respondents also believe that affluence brings both greater responsibility and allows them to build a legacy (both 70 percent), with responsibility weighing in at 92 percent in Indonesia. Only 66 per cent overall agreed that affluence brings with it the expectation that one will build more wealth.