It’s all relative isn’t it? To the world’s poorest citizens living lives on the bleakest edge of subsistence, the lives of America’s most disaffected homeless might seem regal; and the ladder rises to the working poor, middle class, upper middle class, and affluent.
We looked at a marketing research company back in November that tracks the wealthiest 10% of Americans — 11 million households with an average annual income of $270,000 and average net worth of nearly $3 million who earn 40% of all the income earned by all American households and hold 85% of the value of all publicly traded stock and stock mutual funds in the U.S. — but there are the “affluent” and the downright wealthy and the gap between them is no less real than that between any of the other socio-economic strata.
Never run across a copy of Elite Traveler magazine? Most people, including the affluent, haven’t, because it is only available on “private jets, mega yachts, premier country clubs, first-class lounges, professional sports locker rooms and its subscriber-base,” reaching 400,000 readers — with a $5.3 million average household income — per issue.
The mag’s advertiser info section wallows in its exclusivity: “While in the past the truly affluent were cordoned off by the curtain at the front of the cabin, today’s Elite Affluent fly aboard private jets … The Federal Reserve reports one-half of one-percent control over 50 percent of all assets in the United States, while Bergdorf Goodman notes 3 percent of customers account for over 40 of sales and 70 percent of profits. Neiman Marcus gets 50 percent of their sales from just 100,000 customers … These are the readers of Elite Traveler.”
And then they really lay on the elitist differentiation: unlike their readership, “The lower echelon of the affluent market must save and plan in order to treat themselves, and often have to cut back when hit with surprises such as rising energy prices or unexpected expenses life may throw at them. This is audience that other publications cater to.”
If you have to “save and plan” in order to “treat yourself,” this magazine wants nothing to do with you.
So what are these “Elite Affluent” doing for the holidays? They are going to spend spend spend – what else? According to a new study by Elite Traveler and Prince and Associates, the Elite Affluent are planning to spend on average $74,600 for jewelry this holiday, either for themselves or gifts, an increase of 10% from 2004.
Spending will also jump for fashion accessories such as shoes and handbags (39% to $29,100), Hotel and Resort Stays (up 32% to $54,600), Yacht Charters (up 24% to $367,000), Villa and Ski House Rentals (up 27% to $61,700), Watches (up 17% to $44,900), Wines and Spirits for Entertaining (up 18% to $14,200) and Holiday Entertaining (up 22% to $29,800). 51% of Elite Affluent respondents plan to host an event or reception at hotel spending on average $36,300, while 75% will be sending gifts to customers, spending on average $29,200.
“These results show that the super rich are continuing to power the economy with mega-spending,” said Douglas Gollan, President and Editor-in-Chief of Elite Traveler.
Just keep trickling down, baby, just keep on trickling – meanwhile, I’ll be saving and planning.