What wealthy consumers want depends on who they are.

By Rieva Lesonsky

If you currently market to (or want to target) the “affluent” demographic, it helps to understand exactly who those people are. Last week MediaPost’s Engage: Affluent blog addressed this issue.

“Affluence” is in the eye of the beholder. While the dictionary says it means “having a large amount of money and owning many expensive things,” that’s a fairly vague definition. Bob Shullman, the blog’s author, says many of his clients either target household income levels (usually HHI of $100,000+, which is 25 percent of U.S. households, or $250,000+, which is only 3 percent of households in the country) or customer net worth, which he says usually refers to the amount of liquid personal assets a customer has (targeting those with $1 million plus, or about 8 percent of Americans).

When you dig deeper, Shullman says, you see that households with HHI of $100,000 or more are dominated by Baby Boomers (40 percent), while those in the $250,000 HHI range are mostly Gen Xers (39 percent). Millennials make up 41 percent of the millionaires; 31 percent are Boomers.

If you’re in the financial services industry, you should know all three groups say having enough income for retirement is their number-one goal, but only a minority (41 percent) of the millionaires say that.

If you’re in retail, you’re more concerned about what affluent consumers are spending. Shullman says 60 percent of millionaires, 52 percent of those with HHI of $250,000+ and 41 percent of those with HHI of $100,000+ bought a luxury item in the past 12 months.

Obviously if you want to reach the affluent market, a monolithic approach will not work. You need to tailor your offerings—and your marketing—to the specific demographic you’re targeting.