Ipsos' Steve Kraus: Affluent Are Multichannel; Ergo, Brands Must Be Multichannel

Few people know more about the media consumption habits of America’s affluent than Stephen Kraus, chief insights officer at Ipsos, a company with over 35 years experience tracking and predicting affluent behaviors. I was fortunate to discuss the company’s recently published the Ipsos Affluent Survey USA with Kraus.

Ipsos is projecting that there are 62.5 million affluents (HHI over $100K) in the U.S. this year. This huge growth represents a 6.8T increase since 2011. Growth is also strong among the ultra-affluent ($250K+) and wealthy ($500K+). While these groups haven’t quite rebounded to their carefree 2005-7 spending habits, they are spending.

They’re spending more time online, too. “Looking at affluents as a whole and at our results from year to year, we see big growth in their consumption of digital media. Their time online is up, ownership of smartphones is up, and ownership of tablets is way up,” Kraus says. “We now show that 41% of affluents personally own a tablet. On a household basis, that number goes up to about 67%.” Year over year, Ipsos has seen growth in digital media and devices, and the digital usage tends to rise in parallel to household income. More money yields faster tablet adoption.



“One very interesting fact about affluent media use is that while there’s been big growth in digital media and devices, use of traditional media is only down slightly,” Kraus observes.  “Affluent use of digital is layered on top of their traditional media consumption. Use of traditional media - particularly print - also rises as you go up the affluence continuum. There is a real hunger for content and connectivity that continues to grow among the affluent and the wealthy.”

What are the affluent doing online?

Ipsos measures past 30-day visitation on more than 300 different websites, and per Kraus, affluent activities “really run the gamut.” “We have seen the growth of the Internet as an entertainment medium,” says Kraus.  “So Amazon, YouTube and Netflix use are up.” Shopping and travel site use has also grown.

Another trend is visitation to curated or branded content sites like WebMD and “With so much information out there, there has become a premium on branded, curated content sites that are trusted and perceived as providing reliable, quality information,” says Kraus.

How are the affluent using mobile devices?

53% of smartphone owners have made a purchase on their device in the past year, as have 53% of tablet owners. “We see smartphones being used for local content, including checking weather, getting directions and restaurant or movie information. We find the downloading of apps and games is trending down a bit,” Kraus tells me. As the platform begins to mature, consumers understand what they’re looking for in the app stores, and the novelty wears off. Also, Kraus points out that there’s been no “blockbuster” game or app like Angry Birds this year.

“When we look at tablets, it’s much more diverse. There isn’t that handful of activities that everybody does. For some, it’s a reading device, for others, it’s a video device or an educational tool for their kids,” Kraus notes.

Oh, and affluents do prefer Apple devices.

Where do affluent audiences respond best to advertising?

In its survey, Ipsos asked consumers how much interest they have in receiving advertising messages in each channel. “We do see digital devices as lagging behind traditional media a little, both in terms of reach and interest,” Kraus tells me. “TV is number one, and magazines are a close second. Smartphones and tablets are much further down the list.”

Kraus believes that this is an area where digital still has room to improve. Within our industry, we focus so narrowly on digital, it’s easy to forget how important other channels are. A 360-degree approach is key. Kraus sums it up nicely: “The takeaway for brands is they have to live in every media channel,  because affluents are consuming in every media channel.”  The affluent surf the most, spend the most, lead in mobile device usage, and now are the most interested in cross-channel/devices.

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