There have been several studies of American affluence both before and after the economic crisis. Currently, the wealthiest 1 percent of the American population controls 40 percent of the country’s wealth. The question is which sections of America are most likely to enter into this elite group of the affluent? A study by Digitas examines that question in a project titled “Affluence in America: The New Consumer Landscape”.
The study has found that one of the foremost factors that decide whether a person will eventually join the ranks of America’s affluent classes is career choice. The Digitas study discovered that a person’s job could both predict and determine whether he/she will earn enough to reach a household income of $200,000 – a figure that currently divides the affluent from the rest.
Connected to this factor is the question of how much people earn in their 20s. The study predicts that individuals below 35 years of age who clock an annual income between $100,000 and $199,999 have a greater chance of becoming part of the affluent classes than people who make $100,000 when they are older. The former are tagged as the “Emerging” tier, the latter as the “Aspiring” tier.
Prior to the recession, many in the Aspiring tier purchased luxury goods. Today, they no longer feel rich and consider themselves part of the middle-class. However, the Emerging tier is important for luxury brands because this group is typically young, ambitious, with more disposable income with a greater chance of crossing the $200,000 threshold later in life. Potentially the new rich, they are the ideal market for luxury brands to target. Catch them young, as they say.