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Affluents will gift small appliances and other practical items this holiday seasons

Consumers in the $100,000+ income bracket are feeling glum, and because they make up 40% of U.S. consumer retail spending their mood has a big impact on holiday sales. These affluents are looking for practical gifts at bargain prices in 2009, according to market research firm Unity Marketing. Strong gifts in 2009 could include:

  • Small kitchen appliances
  • GPS units
  • Health-promoting products
  • Outdoor accent lighting

Affluents are worried (along with the rest of us)

Consumers remain worried – about the economy, about the H1N1 flu pandemic – dampening the festive mood of the holiday season.

Retailers in the U.S. expect a sales decrease of 1-2% this holiday season, making it the second consecutive season of lower sales. Affluent customers will be cutting back along with everybody else. Unity Marketing’s latest survey of affluents (with annual incomes of $100,000+) found that:

  • 50% plan to spend the same as in 2008
  • 38% plan to spend less
  • only 11% say they’ll spend more than in 2008

“The best gifts this year are going to be items that are practical and make a contribution to the gift recipient’s life in order to make it safer, more secure, more comfortable, more meaningful,” says Unity President Pam Danziger. “And it goes without saying that people want to spend as little money as possible this year, so they will be looking to get the best possible gift for the least amount of money.”

Unity’s surveys of self-purchases among affluent consumers in the past year suggest these adult gift ideas for the 2009 holiday season:

  • Small appliances, cook’s tools, kitchen gadgets: Unity Marketing says small kitchen appliances have attracted more affluent shoppers this year and suggests these may be strong gift categories: single-cup coffee makers, rice cookers, juicers, high-intensity blenders, food processors, espresso makers, Panini presses.
  • Personal electronics: Electronics was still a growth category among affluents in 2009, with increases in this customer base in sales of mobile phones, iPods, Blackberries, and laptops. But Unity predicts the big 2009 holiday gift in electronics will be GPS devices – offering safety, convenience, and affordability, but still cool and contemporary.
  • Sleep-enhancing gifts: Bedding, linens, orthopedic pillows – and electric devices such as white noise machines.
  • Outdoor living accents: Posting strong 2009 growth among affluents has been outdoor accent lighting, and Unit believes this could make a practical and in-demand gift idea.
  • Seasonal items to enhance the holidays.

“The affluent segment (incomes of $100,000 or more) makes up only 20% of total U.S. households but they account for about 40% of all consumer spending,” said Danziger.

Key words: Practical and Value

“The two key words that can guide holiday gift shoppers this year are ‘practical’ and ‘value’,” said Danziger. “People will most appreciate gifts that they can use and that enhance the quality of their life in some measurable, meaningful way. Gift givers will be looking for great value, not just cheap price. So practical gift ideas that have that something extra that adds value for the recipient will be in demand.”

Unity Marketing surveyed 1067 affluent consumers, with an average annual income of $228,800, during October 2-7, 2009.

Posted in Appliance, Consumer electronics, Economy, Kitchen appliances, Market research.

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