Luxury brands are being forced to rewrite their marketing rulebook on the back of a rise in wealthy women buying high-end items just for themselves as a symbol of their success or a reward for their hard work.
New research from Havas Media Network reveals that as women achieve new milestones in their personal and professional lives, they are increasingly indulging in luxury purchases as a symbol of their achievements.
The study is based on a survey of 150 high net worth individuals (£250,000 personal income and £1m investable assets), conducted in May.
A quarter (27%) of well-healed women spend over £50,000 annually on luxury items, compared to 17% of men, with personal motivations such as “symbol of success” (35%) and “reward” (33%) ranking highly as luxury purchase drivers.
With two thirds (62%) buying luxury items just for themselves compared to 46% of men, the top reason for women to spend on luxury is self-indulgence.
Over half of women prioritise emotional spending and “glimmers of joy” on their luxury consumer journey. Meanwhile, two-fifths define a luxury purchase as being “quality”, “craftsmanship”, “well-made” and “long-lasting”.
Havas Media Network global strategy partner Cherry Collins explains that symbols of achievement are not limited to fashion as they once were.
She added: “Previously women might treat themselves to a new handbag season-on-season, but instead a ‘treat’ now looks like a holiday, a piece of timeless jewellery, or a luxury beauty treatment.
“In response to this change in thinking, women have developed new relationships with luxury and in turn, luxury brands must reconfigure how they engage with the high-end luxury cohort. As male high-end luxury spend is overtaken by female, brands need to rethink how they understand the category.”
The study examined consumer spend in five key luxury categories including fashion and accessories; beauty and personal care; travel and hospitality; home and interior design; and food and beverage.
Females tend to be higher spenders in all luxury categories surveyed, bar travel, where their spend is on a par with men. Nearly half of the sample spends £20,000 on luxury goods annually and a quarter (27%) of females surveyed spend £50,000 annually.
As a result of the emergence of unprecedented female spending power, a whole new luxury cohort, “Joy Rejuvenators”, has been created.
This cohort sits alongside two existing established cohorts: “Opulent Enthusiasts”, who view luxury goods as symbols of success, valuing aesthetics and personalisation; and “Quality Connoisseurs”, who prioritise craft, high-quality materials, brand stories and durable products.
Brands wishing to reach this audience should double down on digital and social channels, the research found. High-end luxury female consumers are most likely to seek inspiration for luxury purchases through social media (33%), followed by digital channels such as store websites, search engines and lifestyle websites (29%).
Women are less interested in live streamed events on platforms such as YouTube and Twitch (6% women compared to 19% men).
In the run-up to the golden quarter, the research also found the top reasons for women to spend their cash include special sales and promotions (40%), spending while travelling abroad (35%), reward for professional accomplishments (34%) and celebrating holidays, special occasions, and personal life events (all 31%).
Despite men buying less luxury items for themselves than women, they are 13% more likely than women to brag about a recent purchase.
Women are 16% more likely to take advantage of promotional sales like Black Friday and rate Chanel (pictured) and Gucci’s marketing highest compared to category competitor brands, including Dior, Jimmy Choo, Louis Vuitton, Rolex, Burberry, Cartier and Prada.
Surprisingly, over 55+ are most likely to shop via social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram and TikTok (41%), overtaking 18-34s who are the expected age group for social.
A quarter (23%) spend between up to £1,999 on beauty and personal care, a fifth (20%) spend between up to £4,999 on beauty and personal care, a fifth (18%) spend up to £19,999 annually on home and interiors and a fifth (19%) spend up to £49,000 on fashion and accessories.
Collins continued: “With over half of women being categorised as ‘Joy Rejuvenators’, high-end luxury brands have a new cohort to get to know. At this level, luxury is a very emotive purchase, especially for those 35+.
“Joy Rejuvenators are finding rejoice in times of darkness whether health, economic, societal, climate and more. But they’re also perusing for inspiration and comfort. What’ll resonate best with this new high end luxury audience is comms and experiences that touch them meaningfully, whether they’re culturally connected or embody the same values and beliefs as their consumers.”
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