In earlier chapters, we speak repeatedly about the consumer. This is, in fact, something of a misnomer. A consumer, as the name implies, consumes the products he or she purchases. We have already seen in Chapter 2 that in luxury there are no products, only special objects that clients want to acquire and keep. Someone purchasing a Rolex watch or a Hermès handbag is not going to consume the product, then go back to the store to acquire a new one.
The client purchases iconic objects on special occasions and does so with a special mood or spirit. Even repeat purchases of objects such as a bottle of perfume or champagne are exceptional events, charged with emotional and social content.
In this chapter, we will first ask who the luxury clients are. We will then study how such clients behave, before looking at differences in national behavior.
Luxury clients are in fact the very rich, and, also . . . everybody. We will begin by looking at some quantitative analysis that has been done, mainly in the United States, to see who those clients buying a bottle of champagne or an expensive watch really are.
There have been several studies analyzing the very rich. According to one, conducted by EuroRSCG in 2002,1 there were 7.2 million people in the world with net assets exceeding US$1 million. Of these, one-third lived in the United States. Countries such as France, the United Kingdom, and, strangely ...