Word of Mouth is More Important for Higher-Spending Consumers

Americans with high incomes are obviously a prime target for any marketer–they have all that money, you see–but it turns out that word-of-mouth recommendations are more important for them than any other cohort.

A recent Mintel study polled over 2,000 middle and high-income Americans on their shopping and product discovery habits, and it showed some interesting trends that luxury brand marketers might find particularly useful. 

We dug into the data to find out exactly how to turn this tendency into actionable marketing campaigns.

High-Income Customers Trust Family and Friends When Searching for New Products or Brands

It turns out nothing beats word of mouth, especially for customers with a lot of money to spend. 

Mintel’s study, “Marketing to Middle and High-Income Americans,” showed that 58% of high-income Americans polled learned about new brands and new products primarily from their friends and family. This answer was not only the most popular for high-income consumers, it was significantly higher than middle-income and other consumers. 

What does this mean for marketers? Well, to put it simply, it means consumers who are willing and able to spend more money are less likely to be influenced by ads, a website, or other forms of marketing. 

It means they try new products and brands that their loved ones suggest. But when you extrapolate further, there are good odds that the friends and family of high-income earners tend to be other high-income earners. 

What this means is, getting your products or brands into the hands of this group to try is paramount. 

Experiential marketing–the kind that lets consumers try your product or brand out in the wild in a fun and engaging way–is more effective for high-priced or luxury items or brands than any other.

Our activation for Jeep, for instance, helped get tons of potential buyers behind the wheel (virtually) at the 2020 X-Games. And those who experienced the “Champion of Adventure” experience shared that with friends and family.

In-Store Discovery is a Close Second

For high- and middle-income Americans, the brick-and-mortar store is their second most popular choice for new product discovery, just a shade beneath the recommendations of their family and friends. 

Moreover, when asked whether they have a better shopping experience online or in a store, 59% said they have a better time in a store. 

Add these two things together, and we have a large group of Americans with a tidy bankroll happily shopping in stores and on the lookout for new products. 

For marketers, the strongest approach could be providing in-store brand experiences and handing out samples. Samples are already a strong play: 78% of sampled consumers who purchased a product said the opportunity to try it prompted their purchase. In another survey, 73% of consumers said that product samples get them to use an unfamiliar brand. 

This approach compounds its effectiveness when you remember how high-income earners trust their friends and family for product recommendations. The more samples you give out, the more positive experiences these high-income consumers collect, the more likely they are to pass the word along, etc. You get it.

Niche Brands Will See More of a Return, Especially for Millennials

When it comes to their choices, middle and high-income Millennials in particular are looking at labels. But, that doesn’t mean only big brands can benefit from samples and experiences to spread the buzz. 

69% of high-income Millennials believe name brand products are worth the price, compared to 49% of Millennials as a whole. And 64% of those high-earners believe that a brand says something about the personality of the buyer.

Most interestingly, though, was that high-income Millennials–more than middle-income or Millennials of every economic status–preferred to shop from niche brands (like Allbirds) rather than legacy luxury brands (like Louis Vuitton). 

This means that leveraging the powerful influence of word-of-mouth to high-income consumers is particularly important for smaller but prestigious luxury brands. 

Their samples and brand experiences will simply hit harder.

Trust is the Most Powerful Motivator

When it comes to purchase priority, 81% of those polled said they’ll go for a trusted brand every time. 

And that’s really what all of these experiences and recommendations are all about–gaining trust. Trust between the brand and the consumer. Trust that the product isn’t just fun or reliable, but that it can actually solve a problem the consumer is tangling with. 

To learn how to build this level of trust through exciting brand activations, and to turn “word of mouth” in your favor, contact Inspira Marketing today

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