But digital marketers might want to keep a special eye on those not yet affluent, but headed there -- dubbed the "emerging affluent" and "universally digital."
Digitas pointed to a changing "affluent landscape" in America. It found that what used to be called the "mass affluent" market -- with annual household incomes between $100,000 and $199,000 -- "has disappeared." These households, Digitas said, have lost their leveraged spending power, been forced to live on income alone, and mostly consider themselves middle-class.
They've given way to two groups with spending power: the truly affluent and the up-and-coming affluent. The former, the "class affluent," earns between $200,000 and $1 million annually, with most considering themselves upper-middle class.
The latter is the "emerging affluent." Members of this group earn the same income as the mass affluent group did, but they are under 35 years of age. Plus, they have "intensely digital media behavior."
Emerging affluent consumers, Digitas said, work in careers that will eventually deliver affluence (i.e., financial services, legal services, engineering). They consider themselves opinion leaders, follow trends, love to travel, are passionate about food and dining, and purchase both stylish youth-oriented brands like Scion, Diesel, and Samsung and true luxury brands, such as H. Stern, Tiffany, St. Ives and D&G.
Most importantly, they "use mobile devices for communicating, consuming content, enjoying music, and gaming. They use social networks and blogs, and they prefer apps to 411 to research restaurants, recommend products, or get deals from marketers."
Geographically, the highest concentration of the emerging affluent group was found to be in the Midwest.
The primary quantitative source for the study, titled "Affluence in America: The New Consumer Landscape," was the Mendelsohn Affluence Survey conducted in March. Digitas said it then sought signs of affluence, based on a range of lifestyle behaviors, and proceeded to identify the tiers of affluence.
Once the affluence hierarchy was established, Digitas said it mined the data further for source of income, attitudes, purchasing patterns and media usage.