Understanding the diverse tastes of the UK’s most wealthy

The UK’s richest 1% are more switched on digitally than their peers and many opt for mid-level goods over upmarket alternatives so brands may need to realign their thinking in order to target to this group effectively.

Luxury brands looking to target high net worth individuals (HNWIs) in the UK need to understand the group’s diverse behaviour, as consumers in this category are more digitally savvy than average for their age, while still being big advocates of traditional channels such as TV.

They also have a love of both high-end and everyday products, so marketers may need to rethink how they communicate to compete effectively.

From aviation brand Stratajet bringing modernity to the archaic ways of booking private jets, to W Hotels launching a series of talks empowering women, or luxury magazine Robb Report arriving in the UK, there is an evolution in luxury that is resulting in new and varied ways of reaching HNWIs.

So what do the UK’s wealthiest individuals look like today? The top 1%, which represents 563,199 people, is made up of 71% men and 29% women, who are likely to be aged over 55 and have an income of more than £100,000, according to research from CACI Data Lab.

They are likely to live in a family household with no children residing with them. The majority (60%) are employed, meaning 40% don’t work, and they are largely concentrated in London and the South, and some regional postcodes.

The wealthiest top 1% are digitally savvy, given that 97% have bought something online in the past 12 months – 33% frequently and 64% occasionally.

More than two thirds (69%) read digital newspapers or magazines, 20% watch TV and films online but just 17% are on social networks. In addition, 62% manage their current account online – 1.3 times more than the general population – and 67% check their investments online.

Sarah Collin, propositions and partnership manager at CACI Data Lab, says: “[HNWIs in the UK] are digital, especially compared to other people their age, managing current accounts online and investments online, [although few of them are on social media]. They view a lot of online content – newspapers and magazines – which is almost double the national average.”

“[The UK’s rich] are digital, compared to other people their age… they view a lot of online content“

Sarah Collin, CACI Data Lab

This is good news for the newly revamped Stratajet, which is focusing its marketing on business newspapers such as the FT, Google search and digital channels.

The company’s relaunch last month aimed to bring the “private aviation industry into the modern age” and allows users to compare prices, select and book a private jet within 10 minutes through a mobile app or on its website.

Stratajet’s aim is to make the service more accessible by identifying three tiers of travellers: frequent flyers for business and leisure, occasional flyers and those who fly for special events.

Head of marketing Ricardo Gato says: “There is this idea that only the rich and famous fly private, which is not necessarily true. It’s more about the luxury of being wise with the time you spend travelling; it’s not only HNWIs that need to do this, there are others who travel for business or need to make several stops when travelling who need to fly private.”

Mid-market brands favoured

The CACI Data Lab research reveals that the wealthiest 1% don’t necessarily go for the most upmarket option, however. Indeed, when it comes to retail, Sainsbury’s is the most visited supermarket for 97% of this group, which is more than double the level in the general population. Waitrose comes in at 90%, followed by Tesco at 67%, with just 17% shopping at Marks & Spencer.

Despite having the budget to travel to far-flung locations, the UK and Ireland are the most frequented holiday destinations for 85% of HNWIs and 68% take package holidays, indicating an opportunity for local luxury travel brands to target people closer to home.

To stand out among its peers in the luxury hotel market, W Hotels “prefers to think of [itself] as sitting alongside luxury, not confined by it, because the term luxury has very traditional connotations in the hotel industry”, according to Anthony Ingham, global brand leader for W Hotels Worldwide.

Ingham says the hotel group has a younger audience than its competitors do, with customers typically aged between 25 and 39, and looking for “authenticity in a brand”.

W Hotels thinks of itself as “sitting alongside luxury”, as it has a younger target market than its rivals

To tap into this mindset and offer something different, last month W launched a programme called ‘What She Said’ – a new global speaker series hosted by its hotels around the world and featuring inspirational women from the fashion, music, design, media and fitness industries.

It previously ran 46 events over 15 months across the US to raise funds and awareness for the Human Rights Campaign and the fight for marriage equality. Ingham describes this issue as “potentially divisive”, but adds that it “felt like the right thing to do” for its consumer group and employees who work in the hotels.

Traditional tastes

When it comes to relaxation on a day-to-day basis, the research shows HNWIs in the UK are traditional in many ways, with TV a top hobby, for 72%, indicating strong potential for marketers to reach the demographic through this medium. Other interests include eating out (89%), reading (88%), organic foods (82%), exercise and sport (80%) and gardening (80%).

HNWIs’ buying habits are also somewhat traditional, because while 97% have made an online purchase over the past year, 41% choose to research in-store before buying online.

“Women tend to research online, then buy in shops – they feel more secure that they are physically seeing the product,” says Collin at CACI Data Lab. “TV still features quite highly [because they] trust a TV advert more than they would a display advert.”

Luxury title Robb Report, which claims to be ‘the definitive authority on modern luxury’ and  launched in the US 40 years ago, has been keen to expand into the British market and finally partnered with creative agency and publishing house Brave New World ahead of its recent launch.

Editor-in-chief James Collard, forme editor of The Times Luxx, says there was a gap in the market for “a title that can sometimes get quite geeky about why a particular watch is unique and extraordinary, or the craftsmanship that makes something special” and that there are “great stories to be told around luxury”.

The data and approach from brands show there is certainly a varied consumer story for marketers to navigate, because pockets of HNWIs enjoy accessibility as much as they do the upmarket nature of products and services.

To meet the needs of HNWIs, brands need to understand their own customer base before they go about segmenting, creating personas and targeting through data.

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