Billionaires tend to know exactly what they want but that doesn’t necessary help the people trying to sell to them. Airbus might have had this in mind when it commissioned a study by Ledbury Research of London into the preferences and purchasing patterns of the world’s billionaires. Like other trappings of wealth, including yachts and limousines, private jets have swollen in size to allow the larger entourages of family, personal assistants and waitstaff that billionaires require to feel at home wherever they go.
The number of billionaires is forecast to grow in the Middle East alone to 220 individuals by 2017, from about 150 in 2007. There are now more billionaires in China, the Middle East and Russia combined than in the United States, according to the Billionaires Study.
Not surprisingly, age plays a part in a billionaire’s take on money, with younger ones more likely to spend freely while older ones preserve wealth.
Geography influences outlook, the study suggests, with newer generations of wealth, particularly in Russia and the Mideast, more inclined to be world citizens. Chinese billionaires are the least international, as barriers in that country formerly made it difficult to do business overseas.
Russian billionaires 15 years ago spent spent heavily on yachts without always understanding the implications, according to Ledbury, expecting a supplier to be spontaneously available years later to make repairs often necessitated by the boat’s disuse. They’ve since become smarter buyers.
Text by Dave Helms