We make the familiar strange and the strange familiar.
Steven Garcia is the Director of Cultural Anthropology at Team One, a fully integrated agency helping premium brands thrive in the connected world. Garcia, an academically trained anthropologist, studies the intersection of luxury brands, affluence, and culture. In 2016, Garcia joined Team One in 2016 and created its unique anthropology practice. He conducted ethnography, cultural analysis, and semiotics to dig into the cultural drivers that influence people and their behavior.
In this episode of Velocitize Talks, Garcia shares his insights into the Global Affluent Tribe: Who they are, how to reach them, and what marketers need to know about them.
Culture Club (0:28)
Culture is so embedded into our daily lives that it almost becomes invisible. We lose sight of the subtle yet powerful ways that it exerts influence over everything we do.
Team One builds relationships between brands and a new generation of affluent customers. To do this, they engage customers in a more meaningful way and influence how they aspire to live. Garcia’s background in cultural anthropology, for instance, helps his team to unlock powerful insights about people.
Traditionally, there have been a couple of different ways to understand audiences, such as demographics and psychographics. But Team One has discovered another way. “Lived experiences, values, signs and symbols, norms, and language practices are all kinds of the shared meanings and contexts that guide our day-to-day lives without us really even knowing it,” says Garcia. Brands should explore these factors to influence the way consumers aspire to live.
The Global Affluent Tribe (2:59)
There is a new segment of the affluent population we refer to as the Global Affluent Tribe. They’re economically powerful, multi-cultured, globally networked, and highly influential.
Team One defines the Global Affluent Tribe as 70% of today’s wealthy consumers. They have found that these influencers are more united by what they love than by what they are worth. They also share five values in common: mobility, success, status, belonging and consumption.
Today’s affluent are not the same old money of past generations. They are on a journey toward deeper meaning and satisfaction, says Garcia. Additionally, not concerned with high-end perks, these consumers are more interested in connecting activities to their greater purpose. That’s why brands need to deliver more holistic exceptionalism and transformational experiences.
Happiness = Success (4:43)
Today’s affluent not only believe and behave differently from the affluent of the past but they also look different and came into their success differently.
Self starters make up today’s Global Affluent Tribe. They created their own paths and new roles that they defined personally rather than on some external metric. Garcia notes that they measure their success “based on the personal impact that they can make and the amount of happiness and fulfillment that they feel.”
This is also in a state of refinement in order to “prioritize things that deliver an enduring sense of joy, rather than ephemeral moments of happiness.”
Team One partnered with the Ritz Carlton to create a campaign targeted at the Global Affluent Tribe. The luxury hotel brand, known for its legendary service experiences, focuses on indulging and pampering its guests. However, this was not the experience that the global affluent were looking for. So Team One turned their message aspirational: Get your memories worth, not just your money’s worth. Through the agency’s insights on values of mobility and shifting consumption, they redefined the meaning of a luxury experience.
“Today’s luxury guests crave transformational experiences and meaningful consumption and they want opportunities for self discovery,” says Garcia.
High Expectations & Reality Checks (5:33)
Millennials have conflicting attitudes and desires when it comes to affluence and luxury.
Numbering about 92 million in the U.S. and approaching 40 years old, Millennials are now the largest generation in number. They are racially diverse, progressive in their social views and better educated than previous generations. But they are also less wealthy and more in debt. “This is a generation that was raised in a world of high expectations and optimism,” Garcia says. “Yet they were handed crisis after crisis that served as reality checks.” Luxury is not a given; those who choose luxury goods and services will have higher expectations about what brands need to deliver.
Garcia has found that Gen Z appears to have already developed a huge appetite for luxury, especially luxury fashion. But they differ from older generations in that they haven’t known a world without social media and influencers. The access to information, coupled with the expectation of a seamless online and in-person experience, shapes their opinions quickly. Gen Z is also more environmentally and socially ethical, demanding more transparency into their goods and services. As a result, it has led to an increased interest in vintage and pre-owned goods.
What I’m Reading (10:35)
What’s really great about this book is that it describes the modern aspiration economy.
The Business of Aspiration: How Social Cultural and Environmental Capital Changes Brands by Anna Andjelic is a “must-read primer for marketers, brand owners, entrepreneurs and everyone else interested in business transformation.”
It examines how consumer attitudes and shifting status symbols can impact brand strategy and the modern aspirational economy overall. “It’s about an aspiration that is no longer anchored in accumulation or the display of possessions or experiences, but rather in things like social capital, what you’ve experienced and your savviness about things,” says Garcia.