The consumption patterns of upper uppers are quite different from those of other classes. Although expense is frequently no object, they do not purchase in order to impress others. Therefore, they may be content to wear 20-year old sport coats and drive 10 year old cars. The trend is to be conservative in their consumption buying relatively few goods and use more services than goods. One reason for their belongings is passed on from generation to generation.
Lower Uppers: The consumer behavior of lower uppers may be characterized as oriented strongly toward conspicuous. Their purchase decisions are geared toward demonstrating wealth and status through such items as expensive cars, large estates expensive jewelry, and so forth.
While the upper class may be a significant market for many high priced luxuries for most new product introductions this group can be largely ignored. However, they may be used effectively as reference groups in advertising to those below them and sometimes their use of certain products will trickle down to the other social class groups. This approach has been used by France’s Perrier mineral water and Lenox china and crystal.
The upper class is effectively used in advertising for Lenox. The ads show beautiful women in elegant surroundings, which is a very image conscious and upscale approach. The China is prominent but not at the center of attention. The aim is to convey the idea that Lenox is the sign of a hostess with excellent taste. The company is selling dreams. If the potential Lenox buyer can’t have the model’s sophistication or beauty at least they can have her Lenox.
Upper Middles: This group purchases a far greater number of products than any other class. Because they are successful, their purchase decisions reflect strong social implications. Though their consumption they want to project an image of success and achievement. Their purchases emulate higher strata and are a display of their success not only for their peers but for others lower on the social scale. Because they purchase higher quality products and attempt to display good taste, they are frequently termed the quality market.
Because this group is important as a market many businesses are broadening their appeal to include upper middles. Country clubs, for example, long considered to be plush, snobby and oriented mainly to the upper class, have changed their image. Today, many of them appear to have a more democratic image and a growing middle class orientation where members tend to be younger more informal, and women and minorities are increasingly included.
The high education level of this group strongly influences the kinds of expenditures they make. As cited earlier their desired consumption pattern is heavily experienced that is, spending where one is left typically with memories rather than tangible assets.
Middle class: Social acceptability is an important guideline in the consumption activity of this group also. They are more interested in a product giving them social acceptance than in the luxuriousness or function of the item. Products, especially home furnishings, are bought on the basis of what is pretty and stylish and will suit homemaker and win praise from her friends and neighbors. Product choices made along safe and conservative lines rather than on the basis of original and imaginative thoughts.
Working class: Rain water reports that there are five basic goals that activate the consumer behavior of the working class home maker:
1) The search for social, economic, and physical security.
2) The drive for a common man level of recognition and respectability.
3) The desire for support and affection from the people important to her.
4) The effort to escape heavy burden of household labors.
5) The urge to decorate to pretty up her world.