The market research organization polled 8,100 people across 11 countries to find out more about international attitudes to luxury products – including food and drink.
Although the British were most likely to see certain foods as luxurious, they also felt the most guilty about spending money on luxury products.
When it comes to how different nations define luxury, nearly half of the Dutch people questioned (49 per cent) took the view that “luxury is everything over and above what is needed”, while the French and British were most likely to say that “luxury appeals to my senses... it is beautiful fabric, delicious food and so on”, at 18 per cent each.
Director of development for Synovate in France Alain Denis said: "The French people are certainly hedonistic; they love to enjoy 'small pleasures' like a good smell, or the softness of a scarf, and of course cooking and eating."
However, Synovate's CEO for the UK and luxury research expert Jill Telford said that the British idea of sensory appeal was more likely to centre on food and taste than other senses.
She said: “The UK can be quite austere about some luxuries but eating is a pleasure that is allowed and encouraged – much more than 'things'. London is a gourmet centre with every kind of food specialty you can imagine."
The researchers said that although the purpose of luxury items is to make the purchaser feel good, nearly a third of respondents (32 per cent) felt guilty about making luxurious purchases – and the Brits topped the list, with half feeling bad about buying them for themselves and women feeling more guilty than men.
Telford said: “It's the Brits of course. While 72 per cent say they treat themselves with luxury – and make no mistake, luxury is seen as a treat in Britain – the Brits were still the most likely to agree that they often feel guilty if they buy something luxurious for themselves…It's a classic case of British guilt.”
The Dutch, on the other hand, were most likely to say they were unlikely to buy any small luxuries, at 28 per cent, while 22 per cent said they were unlikely to buy any luxuries at all – even if money were no object.