Regardless of income: good living is the most important area of life
With leisure in second place – following living at home – the Germans have once again voted in favour of a private area of life. Higher earners (monthly household income over €2,500) place more value on cars and holidays. In low-income households (up to €1,000 per month), clothing is more important.
The study entitled "Germany in Private – How the Germans Live" conducted by TNS Emnid on behalf of interlübke shows that a good home is of central importance, regardless of income1: it is actually more important for lower earners (71%) than for higher earners (64%). Both groups also attach great importance to leisure (57%/59%). "Today the private life area ranks higher than the traditional prestige objects such as cars or holidays," comments Klaus-Peter Schöppner, Managing Director of TNS Emnid. Interviewees with a tight budget put their outfit (35%) before the car (29%) or holidays (20%). The focus of higher earners is on status symbols (holidays 40%, cars 36%). Less than one fifth of wealthy people attach greater importance to their clothing. In both income groups, about 30 percent use computers and the Internet.
Modest budgets encourage combination
The multizonal use of rooms is less a living trend than a functional solution for limited space availability: of the lower earners only 75 percent have a "pure" bedroom, but the figures for higher earners is 88 percent. The latter generally prefer to live in traditionally separate living areas, unlike the lower income groups who at 16 percent combine their bedroom twice as frequently with a working space than the higher earners. The difference when it comes to combining living and sleeping is equally clear – 12 percent of the lower earners as compared to 1 percent of those with higher incomes.
Higher earners: harmony in the living room
The higher the income, the more harmonious the overall picture of the room preferred by all Germans, the living room. Natural colour schemes with soft tones are preferred (43% as compared to 27% among lower earners), and contrasts are avoided. White and light colour schemes take second place with 27 percent. Households with low incomes prefer white and light rooms (33%) or natural and gentle colours (27%), with about one fifth favouring contrasts or bright colours.
What belongs in the living room?
In the Germans' favourite room a sitting room suite is an absolute must: it rates a top score among the more wealthy (98%), and is also number one among lower earners (84%). Households with a higher income have more consumer electronics, with the television (90%) and a hi-fi system (77%) contributing substantially to their sense of wellbeing. For 78 percent of the lower earners a television is essential for the living room, with a hi-fi scoring 58 percent and a computer 33 percent. In contrast, only 17 percent of the higher earners, who have more space, keep a PC or computer in the most important room in their home. The majority of the respondents with a higher income like to show openly what they possess – preferably in shelves (55%), then in a wall unit (48%). The latter fitment is also very popular in 61 percent of the households with a lower income, followed by shelves as a storage solution with 42 percent. This group achieves an additional feelgood effect with wallpaper, which is considered essential by 74 percent.
Budget-dependent awareness of the environment?
More than half of all interviewees orientate themselves at first to functionality and longevity when buying new furniture. Higher earners place more value on the functionality (59%) than on the longevity (51%) of their furnishings. For lower earners, longevity (59%) is more important than functionality (53%). The largest difference between interviewees with a high (28%) and a low (62%) income exists with regard to the price. "We are surprised at the difference in the reaction to the environmental factor," comments Leo Lübke, Managing Partner of interlübke. It is striking that almost half of the lower earners pay attention to the environmental compatibility of their new furniture, but only 31 percent of the higher earners. "For this target group the purchase of a long-lasting item of furniture is often the first step towards an environmentally friendly style of living," explains Leo Lübke.
The most popular advisors
Personal contacts are decisive for low household incomes when it comes to obtaining information on purchasing furniture: 71 percent prefer to take advice from relatives or friends (61%). Higher earners also name the family in first place with 87 percent, followed by brochures and catalogues (78%) and the Internet (65%) as sources of information. On the other hand, only 35 percent of lower earners use information from the web as a decision-making aid.
Exchanging intimacies in the bedroom – an indication of wealth?
Even starker contrasts emerge in the use of the bedroom. As incomes rise, its importance for intimate private life increases. Apart from sleeping, 83 percent of the higher earners use their bedroom for intimacy, but the figure for the lowest income group is only 33 percent (!). Of the latter respondents, 71 percent name reading as the most important bedroom activity, followed by the possibility to rest and relax there during the day (65%). More than half of both income groups use the bedroom for conversations with their partners or children. As a refuge during the day, its importance among the more wealthy is limited to about one third.
1 Germany in Private – How the Germans Live, opinion survey 2012 commissioned by interlübke, conducted by TNS Emnid, study period from 20 February to 1 March 2012
Study profile: Germany in Private – How the Germans Live
interlübke Gebr. Lübke GmbH & Co. KG,
Ringstraße 145, 33378 Rheda-Wiedenbrück, Germany
TNS Emnid Medien- und Sozialforschung GmbH
Stieghorster Straße 90, 33605 Bielefeld, Germany
Klaus-Peter Schöppner, Managing Director
Telephone survey (CATI ad hoc/multi-topic survey)
German resident population aged 14 and over
n = 1,000
20 February to 1 March 2012
The study results are available to accredited journalists as a chart presentation via info_AT_hsk-communications.com, contact: Helga Sonntag-Kunst, hsk communications.
Managing Partner interlübke and COR
Tel +49 | 52 42 | 12-230
Fax +49 | 52 42 | 12-311
Managing Director TNS Emnid
Telefon +49 | 52 1 | 9257-231
Helga Sonntag-Kunst (press)
Telefon +49 | 172 | 4157756