A Portrait of the Affluent in Poland
Joining the EU in 2004 provided a major boost to the Polish economy. Polish household incomes are on the rise and this has led to the growth of the middle-class. But who are these affluent Polish consumers? What sort of lifestyle do they lead and how do they spend their money? Millward Brown SMG/KRC carried out a study to find out and to provide insight for marketers and advertisers seeking to target this wealthy group.
About the study
Candidates were selected based on a minimum monthly net income of PLN 5,000 (U.S. $2,300) for single-member households and PLN 7,000 (U.S. $3,222) per month for households with two or more members.
Over 680 candidates were interviewed between May and June 2007 about their:
Social and demographic characteristics
Leisure activities and hobbies
Property profile and planned purchases
Psychographics and attitudes
Consumption and preferred brands
Who is a typical representative of Poland’s middle-class?
With a population of nearly 40 million, the size of the middle-class is a matter of debate. According to an estimate made by Millward Brown SMG/KRC, there are 500,000–600,000 people with a household income of over PLN 7,000 (taking the "grey economy" into account), which represents 2–3 percent of adult Poles.
Although the group was diverse, Millward Brown SMG/KRC found the average middle-class Polish person to be:
female or male
married with one or two children
the owner a medium-size flat (60–70 square meters/645–750 square feet) in a big city or a detached house at the outskirts of a city
in a managerial or executive position in a private business or a financial institution, or run their own business
What makes the middle-class in Poland unique compared to other countries is that, although they can afford to indulge in exclusive, expensive goods, they frequently chose mid-range, branded products instead. In terms of clothing, even the wealthiest in the survey reserved the most exclusive brands, such as Giorgio Armani and Boss, for special occasions. For a normal day they chose brands like Zara, or sports brands such as Reserved, H&M, Nike, Wrangler, Big Star or Adidas.
However, they were not prepared to compromise when buying technology-related good and services.
The study showed that they had the latest IT, video and audio equipment such as MP3 players and mobile phones. They were also likely to have one or more of the following: LCD or plasma screen TV, home cinema system, palmtop/PDA, GPS device.
Almost three-quarters of those surveyed said they planned to buy at least one electronic product within a year — 22 percent planned to buy a notebook PC, 29 percent wanted a LCD TV and 23 percent were considering a home cinema system.
They almost all had an Internet connection — more than one-third connected using a wireless network (Wi-Fi) and almost 10 percent connected via the mobile Internet on their laptop. On average they spent PLN 570 (U.S. $262) a month on Internet and telecommunication services, including TV, films and music — five times more than the rest of the population.
Nine out of ten households had a car, and half of the families had at least two cars. The most popular brands included Opel, Ford, Toyota and Volkswagen. The study showed that the Polish middle-class prefer larger, family cars such as the Opel Vectra or Ford Mondeo, whereas small city cars and compact cars were most popular across the rest of the population. While none of these are luxury cars, their car was likely to be seven years younger than the national average.
Beers, wines and spirits
The respondents’ homes were likely to be well-stocked with Johnnie Walker or Jack Daniel’s whisky, Bailey’s Irish Cream liqueur, as well as a few bottles of Chilean and French wine. Very few of them drank Champagne. Instead, they preferred sparkling wines and even these were opened just once or twice in a year on special occasions. The group mainly drank non-sparkling wines, whisky, brandy and gin rather than beer or vodka. Those who did drink vodka usually chose a premium brand such as Absolut or Smirnoff.
Those surveyed realized that their wealth was not guaranteed to last for ever. Over three-quarters had PLN 20,000 (U.S. $9,196) in financial investments. Nearly everyone had a bank account and used other financial products five to six times more often than an average Pole. Over half of those surveyed had a credit card, five times higher than the Polish average.
Travel and food
The study showed that affluent Poles’ food and drink choices were determined by personal taste rather than cost. Wealthy Poles were just as likely to recommend inexpensive restaurant chains, such as Sphinx or Chłopskie Jadło, as more expensive restaurants.
Travel and tourism were important to the survey group. They often went on holiday abroad, but due to their rational approach to spending, especially for durable goods and services and high-cost items, they were likely to opt for budget airlines when flying.
Despite their unquestionable wealth, most of the middle-class Poles surveyed were modest and did not like to boast about it. They believed that money was not the primary measure of success and saw other aspects of their life, such as their family or leisure time as more important.
In terms of their consumption and brand preferences, the Polish middle-class’ lifestyle is not lavish. In many everyday situations they behave in a similar way to the rest of the population. They prefer moderately priced branded products and only indulge in luxury products when they feel it is important. Marketers need to keep these unique cultural traits in mind when marketing to this affluent group in Poland.