The Affluent Population Grows In Size & Financial Resources

This week we released the 2013 Ipsos Affluent Survey USA, a study that traces its heritage to the Mendelsohn Affluent Survey, which has studied Affluent lives and media habits for 37 years. The study highlights several key trends that combine to paint an encouraging picture for media and marketers interested in the Affluent population. 

Growing population: We project that there are now 62.5 million U.S. Affluents, up 6.8% over the past two years, very much in line with the growth rates reported by the Census Bureau (Affluents are defined as adults aged 18+ living in households with at least $100,000 in annual household income).

Growing wealth: Compared to 2012, Affluents’ average income rose 4.6% to $200,200, and their net worth rose 2.0% to $1.01 million. In percentage terms, their liquid assets grew even more strongly, up 9.1% to $551,400, driven largely by the growing stock market. The Dow Jones Industrial Average, for example, averaged nearly 13,000 during our 2012 data collection period, and almost 15,000 during our 2013 fielding period.



Increased spending: Compared to 2012, Affluent spending rose in a variety of categories. For example, spending rose in “active fitness” categories, such as equipment related to skiing, golf, tennis, bicycling, and home fitness. More generally, Affluents expressed a willingness to pay a premium for higher-end products in categories across the retail spectrum, from travel to packaged goods.

Growing marketplace influence: Affluents continue to grow in their number of interpersonal contacts, as well as their use of social media. In addition, Affluents are increasingly likely to agree with statements such as “I tend to take the lead in decision-making” and “I like to offer advice to others.”

Increased digital media consumption: Affluent ownership of digital devices rose strongly. Personal ownership of tablets rose to 41%, up from just 9% in 2011 (penetration is more than twice as high on a household level, with 68% of Affluent homes having a tablet). Smartphone ownership rose to 63%, up from 45% in 2011 (smartphones are in 84% of Affluent households). With more on-ramps to the Internet, it is no surprise that Affluent time online rose as well, to 41.6 hours in a typical week.

Traditional media remains relevant & influential: While Affluent digital media use rose sharply, traditional media use declined only very slightly, resulting in a net increase in Affluents’ overall engagement with media. Moreover, traditional media continue to far outpace mobile devices on classic media metrics such as reach and ad receptivity, with television ranking first on both, and magazines ranking a close second.

Taken as a whole, it is clear that Affluents are consuming more media, and exerting a greater influence in the marketplace. They are spending more, and feeling greater confidence in economic conditions. Collectively, all of these trends suggest a bright future for Affluents, as well as for media and brands with an interest in the Affluent market. 

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