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As mentioned in a prior article, US Census as well as Ipsos Affluent Survey data shows that the Affluent are more insulated from economic crises and are the first to rebound post-crisis than non-affluent ones. In essence, they’re more “crisis-proof” than the general population – with our data showing a majority of them remaining calm and exhibiting lower levels of anxiety than non-affluent consumers. An overwhelming majority (80%) say they can weather the pandemic/come out unscathed, compared to just 50% of non-affluent. In addition, Affluents are significantly more likely to describe themselves as cautiously optimistic, well prepared, and less anxious than those with lower incomes.
Because of this, it’s likely that affluent consumers have moved into a more progressed stage of the COVID emotional journey – beyond initial stages of grappling with and settling into new routines and moving on to anticipating what’s next. This is likely why we are also seeing elevated interest and intent to purchase among affluent consumers in many categories, vs. the pre-Covid-19 crisis. While many of them have chosen, or been forced by circumstance, to delay or defer purchasing products, they’re beginning to make plans to re-initiate shopping and buying.
An invitation for brands
This could be why we’re seeing a rising openness to and interest in brands and advertising during the crisis. In the absence of normal outlets for shopping, brands and advertising help inform shoppers more than ever during their purchase path. Nearly ¾ of affluent consumers (72%) feel positive towards brands reaching out during the crisis. There’s a strong increase in the number of Affluents who say that Advertising helps them learn about new products and services and that they’d click on an ad they view as interesting. And perhaps most interestingly, more affluent consumers say they’re willing to share their information with an advertiser in exchange for personalization of ads.
But there is also a concurrent rise in the scrutiny consumers, especially affluent ones, are placing on brands and their corporate behavior. For example, agreement with the phrase “A company's commitment to corporate and social responsibility is important to me when I buy products or services” is up post-lockdown vs. before. So is “I regularly make the effort to investigate a company's environmental or social record.” But these aspects, while important, don’t necessarily help consumers make good purchase decisions. So, brands need to pivot to/provide product messaging beyond feel-good corporate messaging – and make that content available to those consumers who are further along in their purchase journey.
Implication 3: At the beginning of the crisis, a unified message of “we’re all in this together” may have fit the bill for brand engagement. But consumers are not only varied in their beliefs and attitudes, they’re also varied in where they stand along a particular category purchase path. Brands need to pivot and start to deliver content and engagements that coordinate with the multiple stages of a consumer’s purchase journey. While some consumers may view product-focused advertising during the crisis as “tone-deaf”, there are many others who are hungry for product benefit/information that adds value to their buying motives.
In addition, consumers are currently giving Brands the opportunity to better personalize their messaging. They should leverage digital content to match the signals consumers provide as to their purchase stages.
Finally, it should be noted that affluent consumers are 40% less likely than non-affluent to say that promotional pricing would get them to make a purchase. So, while there is a need for immediacy once restrictions are lifted, brands targeting affluent consumers should be less focused on deals and offers – and more focused on being helpful and adding value.
Just because the affluent will bounce back faster, and are likely further along on their emotional journey during this crisis doesn't mean it will be quick -- just quicker. Nevertheless, brands should start thinking now about how to help their customers reacclimatize and how to be ready for them when they return.
Read Part 1 of “Affluent Consumers During COVID”.