Aarkstore Enterprise -
Affluent Market Tracking Study #16, Fall 2009 Survey of the Wealthiest
10% of US Households
The 16th in a continuing series of research reports based on twice-yearly surveys of the most affluent
10% of U.S. households, this survey was designed to answer 7 important questions about marketing
to the affluent and luxury consumers:
Should you be concerned about the prevalence of the concepts of "stealth wealth" and "luxury
What is the "new normal" and will the affluent return to pre-recession levels of spending?
Which segments of the affluent have been reducing/deferring expenditures, which segments
will do so over the next 12 months, and which segments are not cutting back?
What are the spending plans for December holiday gifts?
Which of 8 major expenditures do the affluent expect to make during the next 12 months?
How do the affluent expect to change their spending for 17 products and services during the
next 12 months?
What do the affluent expect of the stock market, business conditions, and their personal
income during the next 12 months?
Focused on the wealthiest 11.2 million households with an average $3.1 million net worth (as
determined by The Federal Reserve Board) these surveys regularly measure and track their 12-month
outlook for the economy, the stock market and their personal earnings, savings, investment
objectives, and spending plans for 17 product categories and 8 major expenditures.
This survey contained questions to help identify which segments of the affluent market are reducing or
deferring expenditures (and which are not) due to current economic conditions, why they are reducing
their expenditures, and for what types of products and services spending is being cut back. Related to
this are questions regarding the existence of and affect on spending of feeling self-conscious about
their financial situation being stronger or better than that of their friends and family (i.e. the concepts
of “stealth wealth” and “luxury shame” that have been advanced by some retail and luxury
Also included were questions about spending plans for Christmas and Hanukah gifts, the factors that
will influence their return to pre-recession levels of spending (related to the concept of the “new
normal”), expected percentage change in 2009 income, percentage of income to be contributed to
savings, and estimated time to achieve the end of the recession, an 8% rate of unemployment, the
Dow Jones Index at 11,500, and a 20% increase in the value of their savings and their home.
The surveys track plans for major purchases (vacation homes, primary residences, home remodeling,
automobiles, boats, and cruises) during the next 12 months. The survey also tracks anticipated
changes in spending during the next 12 months for 17 categories of products and services. These
include fine jewelry and watches, domestic and international travel, dining in casual and upscale
restaurants, furniture, major appliances, entertainment equipment, home computer equipment,
entertainment, recreational activities, collectibles, designer and non-designer apparel, and charitable
and political contributions.
For much of the preceding, the report shows historical trend data and data by demographic segment
within the overall affluent population.
Unlike other affluent and luxury market research that is based on online surveys of panels of people
who are compensated for participating in regular and frequent surveys, our unique direct mail surveys
are based on samples drawn at random to be representative of the precisely defined population of
affluent households, consistent with the research of the Federal Reserve Board. Confident of their
anonymity, the respondents to our surveys are typically more affluent and more open in providing
Surveys were mailed to a randomly selected, national sample of 5,000 men and women in households
that, based on their income and ownership of certain assets, were expected to meet the minimum net
worth requirement of $800,000.
The profile of the sample is as follows: $300,000 average household income, $3.1 million average
household net worth, and $1.6 million average household investable assets. The average value of their
primary home is $1.2 million. The average age is 56 while 88% are married and 55% are males. The
sample represents 37 states plus the District of Columbia.
The overall survey response rate was 18 percent. These survey results are based upon the 684 men
and women who promptly responded to the survey and met the minimum net worth requirement. The
maximum margin of error of this survey, at 95% confidence, is five percentage points.
These surveys focus on the 11.2 million households that represent the wealthiest 10% of all U.S.
households, based on net worth. The research available from The Federal Reserve Board indicates
Have a minimum net worth of $828,000.
Have an average net worth of $3.1 million.
Have an average income of $256,000.
Earn 36% of the total income of all Americans.
Own 63% of the personal assets of all U.S. households.
Hold 89% of the total value of all publicly traded stock and stock mutual funds in the U.S.
Own a primary residence valued at an average of $651,000.
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