Changes Seen in Post-9/11 Consumer, Luxury Market

Changes Seen in Post-9/11 Consumer, Luxury Market

It's a change that luxury marketers including kitchen/ bath dealers and manufacturers need to be cognizant of to understand today's high-end consumer.

That's the view of consumer research specialists, who say that the post-9/11 luxury market and consumer are each different than they were prior to the attacks.

"Perhaps the most important change in the luxury market is taking place in the psyche of American consumers," comments Pam Danzinger, president of Stevens, PA-based Unity Marketing and author of the new book, Why People Buy Things They Don't Need.

"Our personal values are predisposed toward luxury," Danzinger says. "We give ourselves permission to buy luxury as a 'necessity' to maintain our standard of living.

"Luxury marketers need to understand that luxury today isn't exclusively about the brand, the quality, materials or craftsmanship of the product," she says. "For the consumer, luxury is a feeling, an experience, that means different things to different consumers."

At its most fundamental level, Danzinger observes, real luxury "is the power to pursue one's passion."

That power, she says, "may be money to buy expensive things, but it can also equate with free time, knowledge, special expertise, or the power that comes from your social network. Luxury is all about consumers feeling special, privileged, unique, able to do the things they want to do, free from worry."

Explaining the challenge for luxury marketers today, Danzinger says, "After the go-go years of the '90s, when luxury marketers were growing 10%-20% annually, today's luxury market has changed due to the new availability of luxury brands.

"It used to be you had to go to Paris or New York to buy the latest luxury products. But now, luxury brands are in malls across America. More significantly, the escalating quality of the typical American's lifestyle has made luxury products more affordable than ever."

One other key change is characterizing the post-9/11 consumer of home-related products, experts point out. "Consumers aren't hiding in their homes," Gio Gutierrez, a futurist at the Institute for Alternative Futures in Alexandria, VA, said in a recent issue of American Demographics magazine.

"They're improving their homes, and gathering with friends and loved ones as much as possible.

The American Demographics story helps quantify this shift in opinion. The results of a survey the magazine conducted with NFO World Group on post-9/11 family life revealed that 78% of Americans say their family is more of a priority than before (compared to the 69% who said that in October, 2001).

Some 84 percent of parents with children under 18 say their family is more of a priority than before, and 35% say they've set aside more family time on a weekly basis.

Ten percent of Americans say they have spent a larger portion of their income on home furnishings since the attacks, and another 10% have spent more on home accessories. And 24% are spending more on groceries so that they can prepare meals at home.