Forget golf, tennis, power boating and jaunts to St. Tropez. Affluent Americans -- those who live in households making $100,000 or more per year -- actually behave like non-affluent consumers. They watch TV and shop at big-box stores. They just plain do it more.
The ranks of the wealthy, constituting 21% of all U.S. households and 60% of total U.S. household income, according to Ipsos Mendelsohn, account for 70% of total U.S. consumer wealth, and are two times more likely to buy and spend 3.2 times more when they do.
This is the 34th year that Ipsos Mendelsohn has looked at demographics with its yearly Affluent Study, based on a 28-page questionnaire sent to 13,804 respondents. The study this year also adds new categories, including electronic platforms, devices and apps, advertising touchpoints, use of travel agents in the past year and home-related professionals employed in the past year, and favored beer and ale brands.
Over 38% of respondents said they saw TV ads in the past six months and 63% of them said they "had considerable or some interest." Magazines were next at 35.5%, with 63% reporting being interested in the ads. After that came direct mail, newspapers and Web sites.
Sixteen percent more affluent consumers said they used social networks this year than last, but there was also a 15% increase in the number of respondents who said they visit science and technology sites. Also up by 12% were respondents who said they go to automotive Web sites. But affluent audience numbers for Web sites on business and investment dropped 10%; also down were entertainment and celebrity sites, food and wine, health and fitness, and home-related sites.
If one extrapolates from the Affluent Survey responses, 17.6 million wealthy consumers are looking to buy a smartphone, while 3.7 million are likely to buy an e-reader and only 2.3 million plan to buy a tablet computer such as an iPad.
The study also found that among affluent consumers, professional football is the favorite pro sport, with 61% of respondents saying they follow it. Pro ball is followed by college football, then pro baseball, college basketball, and pro basketball. Surprisingly, golf -- stereotypically associated with wealth -- is sixth on the list, with only 15% of respondents claiming they follow it. After golf are car racing, hockey, tennis, soccer and boxing.
Only 23% of respondents say they actually play golf, putting the sport at number ten after fishing and before camping. Number one is fitness walking, followed by working out, swimming, bicycling, weight lifting, aerobics, running, and hiking. Another surprise -- only 11% of respondents reported that they play tennis.
In terms of leisure activities, 71% said they do repairs; 70% read books; 65% garden; 53% are into cooking or baking for fun. Fifty-one percent of affluent respondents said they decorate their homes as a leisure activity. After that, sudoku and crossword puzzles as well as console video gaming were both noted by about 30% of affluent respondents.
In the coming year 24% more affluent Americans said they would buy or lease a new vehicle than said that a year ago. There was also a comparable increase in the percentage of those who said they planned to move or relocate. Thirteen percent more affluent people this year than last said they would have a baby, but nearly 20% fewer affluents said they would take a trip or vacation outside of the U.S. or take a cruise.
In terms of what affluent Americans actually spend their money on this year, of the $1.4 trillion that Ipsos Mendelsohn predicts wealthy people will spend in 2010, 18% will spend on vehicles, per the firm. Fifteen percent said they would spend money on personal insurance. After that comes home improvement, groceries, travel apparel, leisure entertainment and dining.
The study found that on average, each household shopped at 12 stores from a long list of retailers for a total of 2.4 billion shopping experiences. The most frequently mentioned retailers among respondents who said they shopped there were Barnes & Noble, Best Buy, Costco, JC Penney, Kohl's, Macy's, Lowe's, Home Depot, The Gap, Sears, Walmart, and Target.