Recently, I wrote about Affluents “rising up the hierarchy of needs” – increasing their discretionary spending as their economic anxiety and the fear of unemployment ease. We’ve seen spending increases in specific areas such as travel and sports equipment, as well as broader marketplace trends suggesting a growing interest in leisure, luxury and experiences.
The latest data from our barometer further reinforce this trend – not only are Affluents increasingly focused on discretionary spending, they are even more focused on making the most of their discretionary time. For example, we find that 35% of Affluents agree, “I am more willing to spend money on leisure activities than I was a year ago,” and a full 60% agree, “These days, I am making a greater effort to enjoy my leisure time.”
Opportunities abound for media brands in the growing leisure economy, encompassing media about leisure, media as leisure, and media during leisure.
Media about leisure: For example, we’ve seen growing interest in media content related to the discovery and enjoyment of experiences about food, wine, cooking and new recipes. And while the Internet has long been the most widely used source of travel planning information, it continues to grow from already high levels. Several travel-related sites are showing Affluent growth, including transaction-oriented sites (such as online travel agents) as well as review-focused and curated content sites.
Media as leisure. Much of Affluent leisure time is spent engaged with media, with large (and often growing) Affluent audiences for TV shows, movies, online video, printed publications, and more. More than a third of Affluents actively try to avoid spoilers for their favorite shows (a very diverse list). Sports also generate huge interest, with two-thirds of Affluents following at least one sport, and 47% following at least one “very closely.”
Media during leisure: Affluents go on vacation, but Affluent media use does not. Even while on vacation, one-third to one-half of Affluents engage with digital entertainment media (reading articles online, watching movies/videos), and similar numbers enjoy reading print newspapers or magazines. Moreover, the vacation experience fosters an openness to new offerings and experiences, including sampling media and product choices different from those experienced at home.
The endemic opportunities are obvious – for example, growing travel interest translates to more advertising dollars from airlines, hotels and destinations invested in travel media. But the non-endemic opportunities across categories can be equally important, if more subtle in conceptualization and execution. Those who read automotive publications not only spend heavily on autos (endemic), they also spend more in non-endemic categories such as leisure, dining, apparel and technology.
Similar patterns are evident across variety of categories, particularly among heavy consumers of leisure-related and passion-related media. Leisure time is often devoted to pursuing passions (directly and via media), and as we have seen, Affluents are increasingly devoting precious discretionary money and time to leisure pursuits and personal passion projects. The bottom line: expect more growth opportunities in the growing leisure economy.