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What we learned at this year’s Modern Affluence Summit.

March 29, 2019 saw the first ever Modern Affluence Summit – a marketing strategy event hosted by Bloomberg Media Group and delivered by Keko London, Adoreum Partners and Vice.

Modern Affluence /ˈmɒd(ə)n/ˈaflʊəns/
noun
a new consumer, whom, unlike their
predecessors, bases their purchasing decisions
on a set of values; aspiring to consumption that
provides authenticity, purpose and passion.

 

A one-day event comprising a series of presentations from contributors including Dazed, Pulse Films, One Luxury Group and Eco Age, it culminated in a fascinating panel discussion on the way ahead for today’s brands. Combining the latest research with anecdotal insight from those who have witnessed first-hand the changes now sweeping the modern affluent world, it could

be seen as a clarion call. For some, however, it will be more of a wake-up call. That’s because  the motivations behind the money the world spends on premium and luxury brands have begun to change. Firstly, there is a move to a more entrepreneurial mindset. Of course, it is no surprise that many affluent consumers are entrepreneurs in some form. But the accelerating pace of technology will bring many new opportunities for business minded consumers. And as 5G networks are rolled out globally, opportunities for the next generation of wealth will quickly follow. As a result, the world’s population of high net-worth individuals is set to grow fast – and it’s going to get younger.

According to Joss Duggan, founder and chief executive of investment firm Arcturus Ventures, many consumers in their twenties are holding off on forming their own companies – a trend he linked to the growth in student debt. “People in their twenties are not taking on the risk of doing that kind of thing; they’re likely waiting a bit longer.”

On that basis, he surmised that in the years ahead, we may see an explosion of entrepreneurship, as today’s twenty-somethings put their college debt behind them and begin to invest in their future. You might not see it happening right now, but the next decade could bring a revolution. Social media will prove critical.

As Ron Timehin, a photographer and Sony Imaging Ambassador, explained, in social, it’s all about authenticity. For an audience that has grown up with celebrity endorsements, sponsored posts and paid influencers, true authenticity is valued so highly that they eye all brands’ communications with unprecedented suspicion. Timehin went on to outline a set of principles for successful social media use in this new, more demanding arena. Genuine authenticity can be daunting for some marketers, it’s true. But bravery will prove absolutely necessary in making the most of the opportunities ahead.

The big upheaval, however, was discussed in the final hours of the summit. Premium and luxury brands now need to align with ethical values their customers can empathise with. Because for this rapidly growing audience, authenticity is not just about being who you say you are. They expect the brands they interact with to have a moral compass – a set of values that as consumers, they can proudly represent themselves.

The most prominent takeaway from the day? The needs for brands to be brave in the face of these challenges. Because, while the market for luxury and premium products is changing at a phenomenal rate, huge opportunities lie ahead for those with the insight and agility to adapt. Plans are already underway for the Modern Affluence Summit 2020 and, whether you made it last month or not, we’d love to see you there.

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