The Rich (1%ers) are different from you and I

Despite the somewhat rocky economy, Hermés, a retailer of upscale leather accessories and fancy silk scarves, can hardly keep their shelves stocked with their toney merchandise. Hermés’ starter Birkin leather handbag retails for $6,130. The upscale retailer tallied a 24 % increase in their third quarter with sales of €848.6 million Euros (roughly equivalent to $668.2 million US dollars) (WSJ, Nadya Masidlover, 11-9-12, B4).

So, what does it take to be a member of this rarified target market that plops down over $6,000.00 for a Hermés starter handbag?

Interestingly, a recent Gallup poll found a majority of Americans think it would take an annual income of $150,000 to “be rich”. Fifteen percent of Americans feel they would need at least $1 million a year in income to be a member of the jet set. And, it appears that the more we make, the more we think we need to “be rich”.

Those who make less than the U.S. median family household of $50,000 feel they need $100,000 to “be rich”. Those who earn more than the $50,000 mark feel they would need $200,000 per year to “be rich”. Those that make $75,000 or more per year feel they would need $250,000 per year to “be rich” (Jeffrey Jones, 12-8-2011, Gallup.com).
Apparently, more is never enough. As author and Psychologist April Lane Benson quips on the back cover of Shiny Objects, “that we can never get enough of what we really don’t need”.

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5 Responses to The Rich (1%ers) are different from you and I

  1. Rebecca Malzahn says:

    When I was studying abroad this summer in Florence, Italy, we took a weekend trip to Venice. Hermés was one of the stores featured on the “designer strip.” The store itself seemed no different than a typical high-end boutique, but look closer and one might notice the locked cabinets, police guards and cameras placed throughout the store. For a store like Hermés, you can’t just go in and look around like you could in Waco’s Spice or Roots Boutique. If you walk into Hermés, you better have money, and lots of it. Walk in without a plan and you will soon feel the piercing glares from the sales associates, clicking thier heels until you get a grip with the reality that you can’t afford anything in the store!

    I can’t stand stores like this! I like to look just as much as Kim Kardashian does but am I allowed to browse? Certainly not.

    In regards to who the target market is for stores like Hermés, I guess it’s wealthy enough to force me out of the store. In my opinion, some items are just too expensive regardless of who you are. Hermés is one of them.

  2. Celeste_Ligon says:

    I agree with the statement in the post “that we can never get enough of what we really don’t need.” No matter how much money you have, there will always be things that you think you want, but do you really need them? Things will only satisfy you for a short time. People should focus on building relationships instead of building their bank account.

  3. Blair Reed says:

    Along with such desires comes generosity. If I’m not mistaken, the poorest of citizens are also the most willing to share what little they have, much less give it away. So although the desire for more is still present, the desire to give overrides that. I feel like a lot of the richer class forgets this principle and loses some of their humbleness to their wealth.

  4. Connor Yearsley says:

    Even if you were rich I don’t know how anyone, in good conscience, could spend $6,000 on a handbag. I’ve never thought frivolousness was something to be admired but, unfortunately, I think some people do. It kind of reminds of a family dinner I had recently in which my cousin talked incessantly about some guy he knew who could afford to do things like spend $5,000 on a game of golf. To me that’s the opposite of something to be admired. To me, that’s a sign of incredibly misplaced values.

  5. Elizabeth Temple says:

    I remember in high school a popular show at the time was “Gilmore Girls.” The daughter, Rory, in the show had very wealthy grandparents but a mom who broke away from her parents trust fund and raised her daughter much differently than how she was. When she went off to Yale she met a boy who was very affluent and gave her the infamous Birkin bag. The grandmother saw this as huge step in their relationship and that he was very serious about getting married. Rory didn’t see what the big deal was.
    For someone like the grandmother, the Birkin bag symbolized hope that her granddaughter was going to live this luxurious life like she has. To the granddaughter who did not grow up that way, she didn’t understand why that bag meant so much to the social elite. I think it is rare today for a large amount of the population to be satisfied with what they have and without constantly wanting nice things like Rory was in the show.

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