The Digital Era is Reshaping Wealth and Consumption

Ipsos research highlights Americans’ unique view of wealth and the influence that digital, diversity and the Great Wealth Transfer will have on how we pass, share, spend and invest it

The author(s)

  • Matt Carmichael Vice President, Editorial Strategy, North America; Editor, What the Future
  • Mallory Newall Vice President, US, Public Affairs
  • Kate MacArthur Deputy editor, What the Future
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NEW YORK, October 25, 2021 — Most Americans, including the affluent, say the system is rigged to benefit the wealthy and they’re more OK with that than one might guess. This unique feature of American society complicates efforts to cure ongoing wealth inequality, even as the affluent are more diversely represented and a mass generational wealth transfer looms. What is changing is how consumers across income groups buy real and virtual luxury products in stores, online and in the metaverse. The digital acceleration will likely have a major impact for how Americans will own, spend and show off wealth as Ipsos reveals in its Wealth issue of What the Future magazine. Read the full issue here.

Ipsos research shows nearly half (48%) of those surveyed with household incomes below $50,000 report that their family’s net worth took a hit during the pandemic. By contrast, just 18% of those with household incomes of $250,000 or more agreed, according to Ipsos' exclusive Affluent Survey, the longest-running, most widely-used study of Affluent Americans. The research also reveals that 71% of Americans agree that the system favors the wealthy, including 61% of those with household incomes of $250,000. However, 35% of U.S. adults agree that the wealthy have a duty to support the rest of the people in this country.

To help explore the questions raised by these insights for how people will pass, share, spend and invest their wealth in the future, Ipsos interviews experts in wealth management, financial policy, luxury retail and the metaverse:

  • Kirstin Hill, chief operating officer, Merrill Lynch Wealth Management — Will impending wealth transfer change the picture?
  • Karen Petrou, managing partner, Federal Financial Analytics and author of “Engine of Inequality: The Fed, and the Future of Wealth in America”— What role can the Fed play in wealth and inequality?
  • Jeff Fowler, president of Farfetch for the Americas — What will luxury consumers consume?
  • Benoit Pagotto, co-founder, RTFKT — What is luxury in the metaverse?

Then, Ipsos researchers project the implications from these shifts for policy makers and share insights for brands to help them participate and support consumers through these changes. They span the role for financial providers in the big wealth transfer, whether inequality will drive policy changes that will impact wealth, how high-end brands can redefine luxury shopping for the digital age, and where luxury brands fit in the metaverse.

Below are research highlights followed by a topline of the custom survey results for the issue:

  • 31% of Americans with household incomes of $50,000 or less say it is their heirs’ own responsibility to match or exceed their standard of living. Conversely, 48% of those with household incomes at $250,000 and above agree.
  • 57% of these higher-income Americans and 52% of those with lower incomes agree that people who pay no taxes are selfish. Yet, 34% of those with household incomes of $250,000 and up agree that people who pay no taxes are smart while 21% of Americans with household incomes below $50,000 agree.
  • 83% of Americans don’t expect to receive a large inheritance, including 77% of those with household incomes of $250,000 or higher. More Gen X Americans (86%) than Millennials (69%) or Gen Z (70%) generations say they don’t expect to receive a large inheritance.
  • 65% of Americans say economic inequality is a major issue in this country. Regardless of race, 64% of Americans agree that the wealthy must be an active part of a solution to economic inequality.
  • As consumers, luxury shoppers are more likely than the total average of shoppers to use an app to try products and services. For example, 52% of all shoppers are willing to take a virtual test drive through an app. Among shoppers who purchase three or more luxury items, that number rises to 70%.
  • 29% of luxury shoppers are extremely familiar or very familiar with NFTs, the digital items with blockchain-based ownership authenticity tokens. 18% of Americans with household incomes of $100k+ are extremely or very familiar with (NFTs). Interestingly, just 10% of those with incomes between $50,000 and $100,000 are, while 14% of those with household incomes under $50,000 are.
  • 40% of Americans prefer to shop both online and in-store equally, given the choice, if both presented zero risk for COVID-19. Luxury shoppers are far more likely to use an app for trying on glasses (80%) than all shoppers (65%). Similarly, 73% of luxury shoppers will use an app to try on clothes virtually than the total average (54%).

These are the findings of an Ipsos poll conducted between September 10-13, 2021. For this survey, a sample of 1,183 adults age 18+ from the continental U.S., Alaska, and Hawaii was interviewed online in English.

For full results, please refer to the following annotated questionnaire here.

About the Study

These are the findings of an Ipsos poll conducted between September 10-13, 2021. For this survey, a sample of 1,183 adults age 18+ from the continental U.S., Alaska, and Hawaii was interviewed online in English.

The sample was randomly drawn from Ipsos’ online panel, partner online panel sources, and “river” sampling and does not rely on a population frame in the traditional sense. Ipsos uses fixed sample targets, unique to each study, in drawing a sample. After a sample has been obtained from the Ipsos panel, Ipsos calibrates respondent characteristics to be representative of the U.S. Population using standard procedures such as raking-ratio adjustments. The source of these population targets is U.S. Census 2018 American Community Survey data. The sample drawn for this study reflects fixed sample targets on demographics. Posthoc weights were made to the population characteristics on gender, age, race/ethnicity, region, and education. 

Statistical margins of error are not applicable to online non-probability polls. All sample surveys and polls may be subject to other sources of error, including, but not limited to coverage error and measurement error. Where figures do not sum to 100, this is due to the effects of rounding. The precision of Ipsos online polls is measured using a credibility interval. In this case, the poll has a credibility interval of plus or minus 3.2 percentage points for all respondents. Ipsos calculates a design effect (DEFF) for each study based on the variation of the weights, following the formula of Kish (1965). This study had a credibility interval adjusted for design effect of the following (n=1,183, DEFF=1.5, adjusted Confidence Interval=+/-4.7 percentage points).

For more information on this news release, please contact:

Matt Carmichael
Editor, What the Future and Vice President, Editorial Strategy
Ipsos North America
+1 312 218 7922
[email protected]

Mallory Newall
Vice President, US
Public Affairs
+1 202 420-2014
[email protected]

Kate Silverstein
Media Relations Specialist, US
Public Affairs
+1 718 755-8829
[email protected]

About Ipsos

Ipsos is the world’s third largest Insights and Analytics company, present in 90 markets and employing more than 18,000 people.

Our passionately curious research professionals, analysts and scientists have built unique multi-specialist capabilities that provide true understanding and powerful insights into the actions, opinions and motivations of citizens, consumers, patients, customers or employees. We serve more than 5000 clients across the world with 75 business solutions.

Founded in France in 1975, Ipsos is listed on the Euronext Paris since July 1st, 1999. The company is part of the SBF 120 and the Mid-60 index and is eligible for the Deferred Settlement Service (SRD).

ISIN code FR0000073298, Reuters ISOS.PA, Bloomberg IPS:FP www.ipsos.com

The author(s)

  • Matt Carmichael Vice President, Editorial Strategy, North America; Editor, What the Future
  • Mallory Newall Vice President, US, Public Affairs
  • Kate MacArthur Deputy editor, What the Future

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