by Peter J. Bates

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Survey Says...

I have always advocated the importance of research in order to effectively set a marketing strategy – when you’re equipped with knowledge, you’ve secured a degree of power that makes you a savvy strategist. In the effort to build on our wealth of information, Strategic Vision sponsored American Affluence Research Center’s Spring 2013 Affluent Market Tracking Study, a survey of the wealthiest 10% of U.S. households based on net worth.

The survey is based on self-administered questionnaires mailed to a randomly selected national sample of 4,500 men and women in households with specific income and assets ownership and a minimum net worth requirement of $800,000. Following a weighting of the respondents, the participants in this survey have an average net worth of $3.1 million and an average primary residence value of $1.2 million.

Some results were rather surprising...

What Magazines Do Affluents Read?
Marketing requires a constant examination of the luxury consumers’ interests, opinions and product preferences – including what publications comprise the affluent library. When asked what leisure magazines they read most on a regular basis (from a choice of 11 high-end titles), survey respondents indicated Travel + Leisure as their top choice (22%), followed by WSJ Magazine (19%), T: The New York Times Style Magazine (15%) and Departures (13%), which is distributed to American Express Centurion and Platinum Card holders.

Print Takes The Lead
While mobile is all the rage, the survey showed there is still power in print! An astounding 76% read the print editions of these magazines versus 7% who read them on iPads. Seventeen percent opt to read both print and digital versions. Considering that we are a hyper-connected society, I found it interesting (and somewhat refreshing) that luxury consumers still do enjoy perusing the physical pages of a magazine for the stunning photography, rich content and actual experience of reading a quality-crafted product (and that this experience isn’t dependent on Wi-Fi).

Determining Influence
As marketers, we spend an inordinate amount of time examining the idea of ‘influence’ – particularly the greatest/least impactful sources that sway the decision-making process of today’s luxury buyer. According to the survey in which 14 choices were provided, respondents indicated that a print travel article most influenced their decision on their last vacation (at 20%). Rounding out the top five were an online travel article (18%), TripAdvisor (16%), a travel advisor (15%) and a friend/relative (14%).

Social media, such as Facebook and Twitter were surprisingly low at 1.4% and 0.2% respectively. Among my travel industry friends, there are many conversations about understanding the full depth of social media’s reach and its relevance for the luxury consumer. It is a fundamental topic for luxury travel marketers to consider with no clear-cut recipe for success; high usage of social media doesn’t mean social media wields a high degree of influence over luxury travel purchase decision-making.

Moving Up The ‘Influence’ Ladder
We all know that the Internet and social media have drastically altered the sales landscape in less than a decade. According to the survey, the reviews from TripAdvisor slightly edged out travel advisors in the realm of influence. I believe, though, these results show that travel advisors are keenly in the mix – but there is more they can do to move up the ‘influence’ ladder. Since the top leisure magazine the affluent read from 11 choices was a travel magazine, travel advisors can help make travel dreams come to life in the most vivid, memorable ways, and even leverage some of the credibility that comes from great editorial in print. It is crucial that travel advisors showcase their breadth of travel knowledge, impressive industry contacts, and ability to craft the perfect next adventure for their clients, whether it’s domestic or internationally.

In a recent article on the Huffington Post about why young people should use travel advisors (which is a great sentiment!), I came across what I believe is now one of my favorite quotes relating to our industry: “Travel is the only thing you buy that makes you richer.” In its perfectly poignant prose, this quote taps into one of the most amazing things about travel (whether you do it solo, as a couple, with friends or the entire family) – the rewards of global travel, as they nourish the soul and enliven the spirit – are immeasurable.

Pricetag Perspective
According to the survey, nearly a third of the respondents said they expect to spend between $5,000 and $10,000 on vacation travel in 2013 (32%). Another 23% anticipate spending upwards of $10,000 on vacation travel this year. Sixty percent of the total respondents said this is the same amount they spent last year; 23% of the total respondents expect to spend more. These are encouraging numbers and provide a great opportunity for travel advisors to upsell.

In Closing
Other survey highlights I found particularly noteworthy include:

• There is a risk that the mood and spending of the affluent could decline later in the year, as it did in 2011 and 2012, depending on changes in key indicators such as employment and GDP, the stock market, the credit crisis in Europe, among other factors.
• Approximately 80% of the affluent report owning one or more smart phones and/or tablets with the iPhone and iPad leading the way.
• About 28% of the affluent who have regular access to a computer or other means of accessing the Internet, say they do not participate in social media. Among the 72% that do participate in social media, Facebook is named slightly more often than LinkedIn. Those most likely to participate in social media are under age 50 and those with a net worth under $6M+.

This consumer research complements Strategic Vision’s two other market research platforms – a panel of 75 top travel agency owners and senior executives, and a panel of more than 20 meeting planners and incentive specialists. Contact me for more information.

As always, I welcome your feedback. Let’s keep the conversation going (Facebook, Twitter).

No comments:

Post a Comment