Brand Purpose Brand Strategy Consumer Behaviour

How luxury brands can stay relevant to the modern affluent consumer

By Rumble Romagnoli, President



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September 28, 2022 | 7 min read

What does wealth in an increasingly-conscious world look like? Rumble Romagnoli of leading luxury digital marketing agency Relevance explores, aided by panel discussions from this year's Modern Affluence Summit.

Luxury store in black and white

How can luxury brands reach an audience that are constantly questioning? / Image courtesy of Relevance

The luxury industry is constantly changing. So are the ways in which audiences interact with brands. Modern affluent consumers - individuals who seek to make purposeful purchases with luxury brands that build cultural value - are an increasingly important audience. Marketers must understand this consumer group if they are to create luxury marketing strategies that resonate with them.

Relevance recently attended the third Modern Affluence Summit at Soho House in London. The Modern Affluence Summit seeks to challenge the status quo and stereotypes of the modern affluent consumer, providing valuable digital insights to the luxury industry.

This year, the Modern Affluence Summit focused on investment generation, Quantum curation, and what it takes to become a good ancestor. Here, we summarize key takeaways and highlight some of the most relevant themes for the luxury industry.

The new cultural capital: how to be a good ancestor

Modern affluents are now seeking to do better for society and to preserve our planet. This means living a good life and leaving a worthwhile legacy.

One way to accumulate wealth is to invest in appreciable assets, such as physical property, gold, art, luxury goods and business, as well as digital platforms, tech, and non-fungible tokens (NFTs).

Jason Cozens, founder and chief executive officer of Glint, suggested that despite their provenance and security, NFTs need greater built-in ‘scarcity’, since they can still be unofficially copied.

Meanwhile, Daniel Daggers of DDRE Global suggested that digital assets work best as investments when they support physical ones. For example, digital art for display in a physical space and NFTs linked to valuable, tangible goods like rare sneakers and whisky.

Modern affluents are increasingly defined by luxuries beyond money, like cultural capital, time, and the freedom to spend their lives on worthwhile and honorable pursuits.

Simon Shaw, chief executive officer of Fifty Media, showed the Modern Affluence Summit how affluent tribes invest energy into the causes and friendships that support their values through trusts, foundations, initiatives, and narratives that reach far beyond business.

Shaw also showed that diversity and inclusion are as vital for the luxury industry as the wealth transfer to minority groups, which has started showing in the diversity of luxury audiences.

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Increasing cultural capital

So, if ‘wealth’ now includes the riches of the soul, how do the ‘wealthy’ increase their cultural capital and work toward a legacy worth more than gold?

Steve Kanith, founder of City of Lunaria, proposed that it begins with an awareness that everything you said and did during your lifetime will be searchable. Through AI, your ancestors will be able to have a conversation with you based on the values you embodied during your lifetime.

Today, ultra-high-net-worth individuals (UHNWIs) wait until they have the finances before they create their foundation. In the future, all eyes are on everyone, everywhere, all at once and for all time. It cannot be an afterthought, but a pathway to a more enriching life that your ancestors will be proud of.

In a future society, our ancestors will be living through the harsh realities of the conspicuous consumption of times gone by.

Purposeful, sustainable digital content

Panel moderator Niki McMorrough revealed the luxury industry is responsible for their fair share of the 2.5 quintillion bytes of digital content uploaded daily. Some may even have contributed to the mental health crisis by portraying unattainable ideals that would please an algorithm but not a parent.

Yasmin Jones Henry of the Financial Times convinced attendees that there’s no gain in winning an algorithm without your personal or brand values intact, and Madolyn Grove of Tiktok agreed that prioritizing your audience over bots will elevate your brand goals over vanity metrics.

Sue Fennessy, founder and chief executive officer of WeAre8, suggested that to avoid greenwashing, the luxury industry should wield the power they hold and direct their luxury marketing strategies on platforms and environments where profits derived from our energy and attention are shared with causes, trust and foundations, or creators who deserve it.

Adah Parris finished the Modern Affluence Summit with a rallying cry to consider what type of ancestor the audience will become. Regardless of your wealth or marital status, you cannot avoid creating a digital footprint that will always follow you and your descendants.

You should use every bit of power you can – whether through the digital content you create, the budget you deploy, your leadership style, or choice of business, so that the things you say and do can become the cultural capital of your future lineage.

For advice on how to market to the modern affluent consumer, contact Relevance’s team of specialists.

Brand Purpose Brand Strategy Consumer Behaviour

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Relevance is a strategic and creative digital marketing agency specialising in profiling and targeting Ultra-High-Net-Worth-Individuals for the world's most exclusive...

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