Until now, Ipsos Mendelsohn's has, as part of its Affluent Survey, defined the 24.5-million-strong population of affluent American households in terms of adults living under one (large) roof. Now the firm is taking a broader, perhaps more holistic, view by putting the focus on affluent families -- the subset of 9.3 million affluent households with kids under 18. These families are 8% of the affluent households, 17% of expenditures and 21% of income in the U.S.
Beyond the size of yearly U.S. income they represent, these affluent families are also an important demographic for marketers because they are highly influential and very likely to be influenced, per the study: they are far more connected to social networks than affluents without kids and they are much more open to their kids' ideas and desires than were affluent parents of earlier generations.
Indeed, the study says the parenting style of affluent families involves actively inviting their kids to be a part of the decision-making process. The firm says 62% of households with kids under 18 spend time researching products and services prior to purchase, versus about 58% of affluent households without kids. And 28% say the brands they "almost always" buy are brands their children prefer. When it comes to being influencers, it's 47% versus 43% for "with kids" and "without kids." respectively.
Among those with kids 12 and under, 94% agree that "I like introducing my child to things I enjoyed as a kid." Almost three-quarters say they spend more time doing things with their kids than their parents spent with them. About 60% say social networks help their extended families stay in touch. A third say they are friends with their kids on social media.
So how about the brand breakdown? Nike, Levi's, Adidas, Reebok, Skechers and Asics are all more favored by affluent families versus those without kids. While affluent households without kids favored retailers like Bloomingdale's, Macy's, Nordstrom, Saks, Swarovski, Talbots and Williams-Sonoma, those with kids are "mas mass," favoring Walmart, Target, Best Buy, Kohl's, JCPenney, and The Gap, and Apple.
"When you look at affluent parents, they are going to places where they can get value," says Donna Sabino, senior vice president, Kids & Family Insights Ipsos OTX MediaCT, who notes that the inclusion of Apple on the list shows the pull of their kids. "They are over-indexing electronics; they are being influenced by their kids, and their kids are teaching them things. Their asking the kids what various apps can do, and 'can it work for me, too?'"
Another striking insight from the Ipsos Mendelsohn data: Affluent families are much more likely to engage in social media than affluents without kids. They are, for example, nearly 10 percentage points more likely to maintain a social media profile (Facebook far and above is the preferred platform both for families and for affluent households without kids); they are more likely to have had a social networking app installed on their wireless device; they have an average of 164 contacts versus 137 for affluent households without kids; and 50% of affluents with kids are spending 20 or more hours per week on social networks.
"One of the most interesting learnings was how hyper-connected affluent families are, not only by devices but groups and the number of contacts they have, either face-to-face or virtually through social networks," Sabino tells Marketing Daily. "But it's not just social chit-chat, it's utilitarian: It's prices, products, services, and figuring out ways to save money and time by connecting to individuals."
Which doesn't mean they eschew traditional media. Affluent families were 16 percentage points more likely to watch TV and movies together several times each week than non-kid affluent households. "Your home is your castle," notes Sabino. "And as an affluent family you need to create that home entertainment hub."
Sabino says that while they time-shift with TiVo and other DVR devices, they are not skipping ads. "The assumption is they are so busy they will fast forward commercials, but they are actually more likely to look at the screen while fast forwarding. They are giving an advertiser five seconds instead of 30, but they are watching that screen."
The firm says that among affluent families with kids under 18, 87% involve married or partnered adults, and that such households have a median of 4.1 people under the roof; half have kids 12-17 years of age, and 41% have kids 6-11. Thirty-three percent have kids under six. About three-quarters have two or more employed adults in the household.