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Brief Published: 9 May 2016

US Luxury Buyers: Generations Divided

US boomer and Gen X luxury spending constitutes a combined annual total of $215bn, compared to millennials' modest $49bn

The total luxury spend from America’s older consumer groups – Generation X (aged 36 to 51) and boomers (aged 52 to 70) – accounts for nearly five times the luxury spend from millennials (aged 18 to 37), according to a May 2016 study from global market research firm YouGov.

The survey found that despite brands’ targeted efforts to capture the younger demographic, the Gen X and boomer combined spend surpassed $215bn, while millennials’ luxury dollars topped out at just $49bn.

“Millennials cite price as the number one indicator of luxury,” said Cara David, managing partner at YouGov. “For luxury brands and luxury brand managers, this means that there is a need to help them evolve from a relatively immature consumer to one that will come to appreciate the true value of luxury, including the artistry and craftsmanship of the product or experience itself.”

Targeting millennials’ parents, rather than directly approaching this coveted demographic, could pay off. “Marketers should be careful not to sacrifice one [group] for the other,” said David, suggesting that brand loyalty is connected to how and when consumers are introduced to luxury goods and services.

Poll results indicated that 90% of affluent millennials had their first luxury interaction by 37 years old, whereas 72% of Gen X, 61% of boomers and 55% of matures had experienced luxury by this age.

For more ways to capture the new luxury consumer, read our Luxury Perspectives Update: The Consumer of 2030