Family travel. It may be the secret sauce. If you want to make a permanent customer out of a well-heeled client, there is one word that will open all doors: Family.
Family travel and family-centric experiences are keys to winning the hearts and wallets of the affluent global travelers, especially in an era of such chaotic economic growth and rapid urbanization.
New research from Collinson Group out of the U.K. reveals distinct motivations and attitudes in this group that go beyond traditional demographic and geographical boundaries. Today’s affluent consumers place a higher priority on family travel, altruism and enriching experiences (69%) and those values are placed well ahead of luxury products and short-term satisfaction.
The findings indicate that the world’s most affluent consumers say their priority is to spend time with their families (72%), provide for their families (62%), save for the future (64%) and almost a third prioritize giving back to the community and protecting the environment equally.
Family Travel and Life Experiences
“The quality of experience is increasingly the new currency for today’s affluent middle classes. Where previously this grouping was more motivated by luxurious trappings, they now place a higher priority on life experiences such as travel, as well as experiences offered by the products and brands they choose. This is an important distinction for businesses trying to attract this growing and influential group,” says Christopher Evans, Collinson Group Director.
The research identifies four global “tribes” or groups of people, who share common traits that cut across age, gender and international boundaries.
The Prudent Planners are motivated primarily by family and trying to help others. The Stylish Spenders do still yearn for the finer things in life. Mid-life Modernists are characterized by their enthusiasm for technology. Finally, the Experientialists put money-can’t-buy experiences at the top of their priorities.
Collinson Group surveyed 4,400 consumers within the top 10-15% of global income in Brazil, China, India, Italy, Singapore, the United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom and the United States.
“Traditional definitions tend to define the middle class by income, spend or the products they buy,” says Evans. “Our research identifies tribes that span geographies and in fact share common behaviors and attitudes. Understanding these motivations and offering tailored experiences, rewards and communications win the hearts and wallets of the affluent middle class.”
Tribal Attitudes Toward Travel
Travel is a common motivator for the affluent middle class and they all expect travel enhancements such as airport lounge access, fast track security and upgrades from their banks or credit card providers, but there are different expectations between the tribes.
Stylish Spenders travel in luxury, viewing services such as airport lounge access, concierge services, airport valet and pick-up by limousine as “essential.” Travel to the most luxurious locations with the opportunity to “show” their status is also important. Hence we are seeing hotels and airlines, such as The Mandarin Oriental and Delta Air Lines “Delta 360” invitation only club offering very exclusive rewards which are not widely publicized to attract this group.
To appeal to Prudent Planners and Mid-Life Modernists, which represent 69% of the affluent global middle class, offering more flexible travel experiences and making sure all members of the family get something they want, will go a long way.
To attract Experientialists, be inventive, head off the map, suggest secret gems, and manage some steep tricks. Pull priority reservations to a legendary restaurant or a private dinner at Topaki or a crowdless tour of Ephesus. It can be done (Seasong.com) and this is the traveler for which such tour experiences were designed.
Use of Technology Differentiates the Tribes
The research shows a strong correlation between the most active users of technology and willingness to recommend and endorse brands they trust. A group of ‘technophiles’ spend over 20 hours a week of their leisure time on the Internet and are avid users of apps, social media, online shopping and streaming of digital content. Within this group, 72% are willing to make a repeat purchase from a brand they feel loyal to, 70% would recommend that brand to friends and family and 53% will choose this particular brand even if it is more expensive.
There are however clear differences in how the tribes prefer to use technology. For example Stylish Spenders particularly value information that is personalized to them as well as the opportunity to tell others about access to exclusive destinations, hotels and restaurants via social media channels.
Smartphones, apps and digital experiences are valued by Mid-Life Modernists and offering promotions and price comparisons via mobile devices, particularly those that can benefit a whole family, is an effective way to engage with them.
Prudent Planners continue to value face-to-face interactions. Retaining this as an option, rather than solely focusing on digital channels, is important for this sizeable segment.
Experientialists “live for the moment” and expect to be updated regularly with digital content and offers of unique experiences that will maintain their interest.
Prudent Planners are the largest tribe representing 41% of the overall sample. This group is motivated primarily by family and altruistic goals. Three quarters of this tribe (76%) cite spending on family members as a priority and they have a higher than average interest in giving to charity (31%) and protecting the environment (30%). As the largest proportion within the affluent middle class, they are particularly valuable customers but are less motivated by material products and spend less time using technology such as smartphones or apps.
Prudent Planners travel less than the other tribes but still take an average of six business and leisure trips a year. As a result, value is important to this group. And that value should extend to what members of their family value as well.
In contrast, Stylish Spenders seek the finer things in life. This tribe is most common in China and the United Arab Emirates and is four times more likely to buy leading brands than other affluent middle class consumers (76% compared to 22%) and drive a status vehicle (70% compared to 25%.) This group invests the most in travelling and spends through all aspects of the travel journey. Stylish Spenders are a small but very influential tribe with over half under 34 years of age (55%) and 32% earning over $190,000 per annum. Despite their high spending power, this group is the most loyal to brands they trust, participating in an average of five loyalty programs and feeling loyal to up to eight brands.
Mid-Life Modernists stand out for their enthusiastic use of technology, with 61% citing gadgets as their biggest indulgence, 90% spending more than five hours a week using their smartphone and 45% spending over 20 hours a week online via a computer. Mid-Life Modernists are well represented in India and Singapore. Digital experience has a significant influence on this group and businesses that invest in promotional technology can make powerful advocates within this tribe. This group is willing to endorse and promote a brand they feel loyal to via social media, with three quarters prepared to recommend a company to their friends and family; 74% more likely to make a repeat purchase from a trusted brand and 67% saying they are engaged members of loyalty programs.
Unique, money-can’t-buy experiences and exclusivity, rather than standard products and services, motivate the Experiential tribe. This group is prevalent in China, the United Arab Emirates and the United Kingdom and they are most likely to enjoy experiencing a different culture (76%). They use travel as a way of keeping in touch with friends and family (67%). Experiences such as spending on holidays (81%), dining out and luxury foods (64%) are also a priority. So, with this group, the word is “yes, money can buy experiences.”