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Brief Published: 3 Oct 2019

UBS’s Survey Reveals Luxury Consumers’ Priorities


Ultra-high-net-worth individuals (UHNWIs) are embracing sustainable investment and fear economic downturn, says Swiss bank UBS’s Global Family Office Report. We highlight key findings from the study, which tracks the global private wealth community’s changing priorities and reveals what they’re doing with their money.

Published in September 2019, the report outlined perspectives on economic, sustainability-focused and regional trends, uncovering the concerns of super-rich consumers. The most important takeaways include:

  • Bleak Economic Outlook: A sizeable 55% of those surveyed believe the world will enter a recession by 2020 and are diversifying their investment portfolios to prepare. Some 45% are realigning their investment into low-risk strategies, while 42% are increasing their cash reserves in case of economic downturn. This disaster planning is evidence of the elite anxiety many UHNWIs are experiencing and their consequent off-grid approach to luxury consumption – discussed further in Basement Bourgeoisie, part of The New Rules of Luxury Macro Trend.
  • Consciously Investing: Over half (53%) believe climate change is the greatest threat in the world. However, only a third (34%) are engaging in impact investing. Climate-change causes are most popular – above causes relating to health, ethics or governance – with 62% of these investors supporting planet-friendly initiatives. As discussed in Reaching Eco Demographics, sustainable investment attracts interest from consumers wanting their hard-earned money to do good, while simultaneously generating profit. 
  • Regional Perspectives: Nearly a quarter (23%) of Asia-Pacific investors are pursuing wealth preservation, up by 8% from last year. This indicates concerns for safeguarding money for the future, rather than focusing on higher-risk growth opportunities. Likewise, consumers from emerging markets believe economic growth will slow by 2020, with 67% forecasting a recession by next year.

Our recent Luxury in a Divided World report takes a deeper dive into the changing needs and values of UHNWIs in today’s turbulent social climate. For brands looking to the future, The Consumer of 2035: Luxury Perspectives report offers a long-view analysis of affluent consumers.