Doug Logan

Understanding Ultra-High-
Net-Worth Individuals

Takeaways From the World's Most Impactful Consumers

A myriad of concerns influence the global economy, but it's abundantly clear that ultra-high-net-worth individuals (UHNWIs) have an outsized impact.

Defined by Investopedia as people with investable assets exceeding $30 million, these individuals have extreme spending power, and therefore, the ability to shape everything from widescale cultural trends to economic progress.

Understanding UHNWIs is key to understanding not only the luxury sector, but also, the economy as a whole. To that end, we've highlighted several key trends in UHNWI spending, as well as predictions for how they might behave in the future.

Strategic Spending

UHNWIs are not, as many people might assume, necessarily haphazard in their spending. While they're more than willing to dedicate huge sums to products or experiences they find compelling, many are highly discerning about what they purchase and under which circumstances.

This is a common theme in luxury fashion and jewelry. Yes, a subset of UHNWIs chase trends, but this is nearly always underscored by an emphasis on quality. This desire is evident in responses from a 2022 Ipsos survey, in which 68 percent of affluent respondents claimed to be perfectly happy to spend more to ensure greater quality.

This concept extends beyond materials and finishes to also include the perceived quality of the experience, be it a luxury vacation or customer interactions. As the Forbes Communications Council explains, what really counts is the memorable experience [UHNWIs] are able to have with loved ones.

According to Forbes, the right product serves as the facilitator of the experience, not the experience itself. For example, an upscale kitchen and dining room can facilitate the delightful experience of a connected, gourmet meal while sophisticated cars provide an elevated driving experience that won't quickly be forgotten.

The Power of Personalization

The desire for personalization is increasingly shared by consumers from all walks of life. Whether achieved through digital marketing or through customized products, this can amplify any purchase or experience, as it makes consumers feel seen and appreciated. Still, given the increased expense attached to personalization, it's easy to see why this remains far more attainable for UHNWIs.

The perfect example of personalization's power? The enduring appeal of couture: high-net consumers have long expressed a desire to feel exclusive in a way that goes beyond typically luxurious materials or craftsmanship.

These days, the scope of personalization is far greater, appearing in everything from engraved jewelry to customizable designs for elite cars. Often, digital components are built into this personalized landscape, with high-end customers encouraged to craft products or experiences exactly as they see fit.

UHNWIs expect a high degree of personalization for every brand interaction, to the point that NASDAQ experts refer to it as imperative to success in this niche demographic.

Sense of Responsibility

While self-care and indulgence are frequent pursuits among UHNWIs, these consumers are always well aware that their decisions have a huge impact not only on their local communities, but also, for entire industries and even global initiatives. As such, UHNWIs feel a huge sense of responsibility and are determined to spend wisely.

Research from the law firm Taylor Wesssing's 2022 study World Shaping Wealth reveals that an astounding 81 percent of UHNWIs feel driven to use their wealth to help solve top societal concerns, ranging from climate change to public health issues and even global conflicts. This perception takes a step up with Millennial UHNWIs, with over 94 percent expressing that they feel compelled to do their part.

While World Shaping Wealth focuses on how major investment strategies can help UHNWIs make progress toward societal objectives, it's increasingly clear that this perception also plays into their everyday spending habits. From purchasing ethically produced items to booking sustainable resort visits, UHNWIs understand that they have both the capability and the responsibility to vote with their dollar.

UHNWI Challenges

While their challenges may seem minimal compared to those faced by people in other income brackets, it's worth recognizing that UHNWIs do face some complications as a result of their financial status. These often become most evident around retirement age, particularly among those who rely on high-status careers for their income. Having become accustomed to an elevated lifestyle, these individuals may be forced to scale back if they haven't properly managed their money in the past.

Illiquidity can also be a concern. Yes, UHNWIs have tens of millions of dollars, but these are typically tied up in real estate or other assets that may take considerable time and effort to switch to cash. This can be a huge fear in the event of a sudden economic downturn, which may leave UHNWIs scrambling to both access and preserve their assets.

The very investments that give these people their ultra label can also be a source of anxiety. While some have worked their way up the career ladder and receive multi-million dollar salaries, many simply have become adept at playing the market, which provides rich rewards to those who take considerable risks. In the event of a downswing, however, those very risks can lead UHNWIs to lose not only their ultra designation, but in extreme cases, the bulk of their wealth.

Amid all this, however, rests the concept of lifestyle creep; once UHNWIs have become accustomed to a certain way of life, they may struggle to scale back. This is what makes influxes in their net worth so jarring; their financial reality may suddenly look a lot different, but the effort to update their spending accordingly can prove surprisingly difficult.

Future Trends in UHNWI Spending

Findings from the 2022 edition of the Julius Baer Global Wealth and Lifestyle Report reveal that, in recent years, the consumption habits of the wealthy have changed far less than that of their counterparts in other demographics. That being said, several significant changes are likely in store, as everything from climate change to new technology promise to shake up our lifestyles at both the individual and global level. Anticipated trends to watch include:


UHNWIs are well aware of the impact their luxurious lifestyles can have on the environment. While many have long been content to throw money at the issue without adjusting their own habits, this is beginning to change. Hence, the rapid rise of sustainable luxury fashion, in which high-net-worth consumers eschew seasonal trends in favor of longer-term, tasteful outfits they can wear year after year. This apparel is constructed from eco-friendly materials and is produced ethically.

The concept of a minimalist wardrobe is far from new, of course, but it has taken on a greater level of prestige. Mark Zuckerberg set the tone with his iconic hoodie, but he's far from the only UHNWI willing to diverge from the long-held perception of how successful people should dress.

The rise of sustainable luxury is also evident in the travel sector, as UHNWIs have discovered that they can minimize their carbon footprint as they continue to travel the world. High-end eco-resorts bring luxury travelers to the most exclusive, intriguing destinations while appeasing their worries about travel's influence on Mother Nature.

Luxury resorts such as Patina Maldives appeal to the socially and environmentally conscious traveler by building green practices into the very fabric of the tourist experience. This effort incorporates prefabricated, eco-friendly materials, construction purposefully away from reefs, and relocating trees rather than simply cutting them down.

It's also important to acknowledge the growing prevalence of sophisticated hybrids and EVs, which have largely replaced the gas-guzzling luxury vehicles of yesteryear. These days, the hottest rides minimize fuel consumption without skimping on other automotive markers of luxury. Tesla comes to mind, of course, but Porsche, Mercedes-Benz, and BMW all provide compelling options for the modern eco-conscious, luxury-minded driver.


No discussion of UHNWIs' evolving lifestyle would be complete without a close examination of tech. We're not just talking about the most exclusive mobile devices and wearables, although these are certainly a core part of UHNWIs' day-to-day lives. Beyond this, however, high-net consumers are able to integrate Web3 and Internet of Things (IoT) solutions into their homes, their leisure activities, and their fashion choices.

Non-fungible tokens (NFTs) provide one of the most compelling opportunities for UNHWIs to chase their desire for exclusivity. These are a big deal across numerous areas of the luxury industry. Jimmy Choo, Bulgari, and Prada are embracing this opportunity with headline-hitting NFT drops.

Blockchain is also a big deal, producing exciting opportunities not only in fashion, but also, in luxury travel and even in the automotive sector. Porsche, for example, is now testing blockchain solutions, while BMW has used this approach extensively to verify its cobalt supplies.

The Enduring Influence of UHNWIs

As the luxury market continues to evolve, UHNWIs will have an outsized impact on the economy and culture at large. Appealing to this influential niche means providing a curated experience that emphasizes convenience and quality. Success will also mean adopting a values-driven approach that takes high-end consumers' far-reaching goals into account. Embrace these essentials and there's no telling the benefits that UHNWI loyalty can provide.

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