Factors influencing wealthy women's retail habits

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By: Wise Marketer Staff |

Posted on May 22, 2008

The wealthy woman, in the US at least, is educated, employed, and controls the lion's share of spending in her household, according to a survey by the Luxury Institute, which examined what really motivates this lucrative group of consumers.

Apart from managing her household and its finances, nine of ten times the wealthy woman is married, or living with a life partner, and her responsibilities often include working at a high-paying job or running her own business while also caring for a child or a parent.

Key findings
The female influence on household spending and money management among luxury-consuming households is profound. Among the survey's main findings:

  • Married wealthy women, on average, make almost two-thirds (64%) of the family's purchase decisions, while 73% reported making a majority of the household spending decisions;
  • Almost one in four married wealthy women (22%) said that they make all of the investment decisions on their own, while another two-thirds (66%) reported making financial decisions jointly with a spouse or partner;
  • Nearly half (48%) said that they make the decisions about home improvement projects and related purchases;
  • Women also have a significant impact on decisions at home when it comes to spending money on travel and home appliances. In more than two-thirds (68%) of wealthy households, the matriarch carries the ultimate 'right to veto' for home appliance purchases;
  • Similarly, for travel, 61% of wealthy women make the family's holiday planning decisions, including the choice of destination, airline, hotel, cruise line, car rental provider, and restaurants;
  • In 48% of wealthy households, women choose the family's health care providers (both the insurance plan and specific doctors);
  • Bank account selection is also the domain of women in 46% of wealthy households, while in 40% the woman decides which vehicles and consumer electronics to buy;
  • Almost one-third of wealthy women (31%) said that they control their family's real estate purchase decisions;
  • On average, women earn 39% of the total income in wealthy households, with 24% reporting that they are their family's primary earner, bringing home at least half of the family's income. Interestingly, 13% of wealthy women with a spouse or partner said that they earn at least 70% of their household's total income.
  • 60% of wealthy women who work earn at least US$100,000 a year, while 20% earn at least US$200,000, and the median annual income of working wealthy women is US$124,000. One-third of these (and 45% from households with an annual income of US$300,000+) said they support another family member through their work, with 28% supporting two family members and 18% supporting three or more dependents;
  • 15% of wealthy women own their own businesses, and lifestyle is a primary consideration in doing so.

Sectors that can benefit
Among the sectors with the most to gain from a sharper female focus are brokers and banks, according to the institute. Home improvement chains, realtors, and car companies are already getting the message about wealthy women, and are now starting to get their messages across more effectively.

Marriott, Hilton, Visa and Home Depot currently stand out for their skill in marketing to wealthy women. Each of these companies earned an unaided mention from 7% of respondents. American Express (5%) and Remax (4%) received frequent mentions, as did Cadillac, Capital One, Lowe's and Westin (each with 3%).

According to Milton Pedraza, CEO for the Luxury Institute, honing the right message for wealthy female consumers starts with understanding their needs and tastes, followed by creating relevant products and services that are delivered with impeccable service - all of which are just good fundamentals of business.

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