Affluents Eschew Pursuit of Materialism in Favor of Charitable Giving

The results of a new survey by Unity Marketing points to a cultural shift taking place among the wealthy. Unity Marketing, a consumer insights firm that specializes in understanding the mindset of affluent consumers, finds affluents are turning away from conspicuous consumption toward a desire to do good and give back. ' In a day when CEO bankers go to Capitol Hill with their tails between their legs and their hands out for more taxpayer money, luxury has lost its luster," says Pam Danziger, president of Unity Marketing. "Luxury is now synonymous with excessive indulgence, self-gratification, and an arrogant, wasteful lifestyle.'

Despite the current economic crisis and continuing recession, affluent consumers expect to maintain their current level of charitable giving throughout 2009. Over 80 percent of the affluents surveyed reported some level of charitable giving in the past year. More than 70 percent said they donated money to a charity or non-profit. Some 39 percent gave of their time by volunteering to a cause and about one third (30 percent) attended a fund raising event sponsored by a charity or non-profit.

Affluent consumers are also highly attuned to their indirect charitable giving by buying products where a percentage of the proceeds are donated to a cause or purchasing products from a retailer that supports a specific cause. Some 43 percent of affluent bought a product that gives back, while 32 percent supported a retailer that supported a cause.

'Affluent consumers no longer measure their achievement in the things they have and own or by the size of their house or brand of their car. They are measuring life success in new ways, including what they contribute to society and how they help make the world a better place for us all," Danziger says. "The next generation of affluent consumers are thinking about the effect of their consumption on future generations. They are learning that conspicuous consumption is not the way to grow wealth, to achieve happiness or to make their life more meaningful.

"Affluents who have much are giving back, doing good, taking concrete steps to make the world a better place. Luxury is turning inward not to an external or outward show of status or wealth, but to an inner state of being defined by personal happiness and an outstanding quality of life,' Danziger concludes.