SINGAPORE: Affluent consumers in Asia are less interested in accumulating possessions than in seeking experiences or mastering new skills a new study has revealed.

MasterCard, the credit card business, surveyed 1,000 affluent individuals in key markets in the APMEA region (Asia-Pacific, Middle East & Africa) and found that the attitudes towards wealth of such people were shifting and so transforming their consumption patterns.

As success was increasingly measured by the way of life they led, so the purchase of luxury items – fashion, watches, cars – featured less highly in their priorities than enjoying worthwhile experiences.

International travel, cited by 30%, was the most important component of this, followed by culinary experiences (23%) and golfing (12%); retail came in at just 10%.

Hong Kong affluents were notably less interested in travel, however, than other countries in the region. Just 25% said this was a passion, compared to 32% in both Singapore and Japan and 31% in China.

MasterCard also highlighted two distinct dimensions of affluent attitudes which it termed 'globalised markets' and 'globalised minds'.

Thus, affluent consumers in markets such as Singapore and Hong Kong, regional hubs with many expatriates and which are more open and culturally engaged with the rest of the world, had "less desire to learn, share and nurture from the world".

On the other hand, those in China and Japan, countries which are not perceived to be as open and culturally engaged with the world, had a greater desire to experience and learn from the world.

The study also asked how affluent consumers would like the various experiences to be offered to them and found a clear preference for curated experiences (31%) which came in well ahead of privileged access (24%), branded curation (22%) and complimentary – discounts, upgrades etc (20%).

Golfing was a popular affluent activity – two in every five had played a round of golf in the past 12 months – that the report said fulfilled both their social and emotional needs.

It had also spawned a niche tourism industry as the growing number affluent golfers looked for unique experiences such as training sessions with golfing legends (privileged access) and access to exclusive world-renowned courses (curation).

Data sourced from MasterCard; additional content by Warc staff