Changes Seen in Post-9/11 Consumer, Luxury
STEVENS, PA Last month marked the one-year anniversary of the
terrorist attacks on America. And, in some important ways, it also
marked the anniversary of a change in the mindset of the American
consumer and in the “luxury” market, including the market for
kitchen and bath product purchases.
It’s a change that luxury marketers including kitchen/ bath
dealers and manufacturers need to be cognizant of to understand
today’s high-end consumer.
That’s the view of consumer research specialists, who say that
the post-9/11 luxury market and consumer are each different than
they were prior to the attacks.
“Perhaps the most important change in the luxury market is
taking place in the psyche of American consumers,” comments Pam
Danzinger, president of Stevens, PA-based Unity Marketing and
author of the new book, Why People Buy Things They Don’t Need.
“Our personal values are predisposed toward luxury,” Danzinger
says. “We give ourselves permission to buy luxury as a ‘necessity’
to maintain our standard of living.
“Luxury marketers need to understand that luxury today isn’t
exclusively about the brand, the quality, materials or
craftsmanship of the product,” she says. “For the consumer, luxury
is a feeling, an experience, that means different things to
At its most fundamental level, Danzinger observes, real luxury
“is the power to pursue one’s passion.”
That power, she says, “may be money to buy expensive things, but
it can also equate with free time, knowledge, special expertise, or
the power that comes from your social network. Luxury is all about
consumers feeling special, privileged, unique, able to do the
things they want to do, free from worry.”
Explaining the challenge for luxury marketers today, Danzinger
says, “After the go-go years of the ’90s, when luxury marketers
were growing 10%-20% annually, today’s luxury market has changed
due to the new availability of luxury brands.
“It used to be you had to go to Paris or New York to buy the
latest luxury products. But now, luxury brands are in malls across
America. More significantly, the escalating quality of the typical
American’s lifestyle has made luxury products more affordable than
One other key change is characterizing the post-9/11 consumer of
home-related products, experts point out. “Consumers aren’t hiding
in their homes,” Gio Gutierrez, a futurist at the Institute for
Alternative Futures in Alexandria, VA, said in a recent issue of
American Demographics magazine.
“They’re improving their homes, and gathering with friends and
loved ones as much as possible.
The American Demographics story helps quantify this shift in
opinion. The results of a survey the magazine conducted with NFO
World Group on post-9/11 family life revealed that 78% of Americans
say their family is more of a priority than before (compared to the
69% who said that in October, 2001).
Some 84 percent of parents with children under 18 say their
family is more of a priority than before, and 35% say they’ve set
aside more family time on a weekly basis.
Ten percent of Americans say they have spent a larger portion of
their income on home furnishings since the attacks, and another 10%
have spent more on home accessories. And 24% are spending more on
groceries so that they can prepare meals at