Despite the fact that the Ultra High-Net Worth (UHNWI) belong to the wealthiest, most powerful, and influential group of consumers in the society, and nearly 70% created wealth on their own, current marketing approaches fail to consider what drives consumption behavior of this group of consumers and how can brands maximize their socio-economic impact. Across two studies, I develop a model that guides theory and practice regarding this consumer group. The first part of the first study deployed netnography and grounded theory to understand the ideologies of 30 self-made UHNWI derived from self-presentation on 3,393 Instagram posts. To ensure self-made UHNWI self-presentation is unique, the same methodology was also used to examine two contrast groups - 15 individuals who inherited their wealth and 15 Instagram Influencers. The second part of the first study identifies how such ideologies shapes consumption patterns through 30 semi-structured interviews with this consumer group. In the second study, semi-structured interviews with 27 professionals working for the brands catering to the UHNWI, examined organizational capabilities required to cater to this group of consumers. Across the two studies, the findings show that the self-made UHNWI share core American ideologies - individualism, self-reliance, and idealism - which in turn drive consumption patterns - transformational, simplistic, and idealistic. Findings suggest that successful brands catering to this powerful group of consumers develop organizational capabilities centered around customer centricity, continuously deposit in brand equity, and nurture benefit mindset. These findings have significant implications for theory and practice for all luxury brands and beyond.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Consumer behavior; Marketing; Affluent consumers

Date of Award


School Affiliation

Graziadio Business School



Degree Type


Degree Name


Faculty Advisor

Cristina Gibson

Included in

Marketing Commons