Expansion Without Dilution: The Affluent Population Grows In Size And Spending Power

This morning we released the 2014 Ipsos Affluent Survey USA, marking our 38th consecutive year of exploring the lives, lifestyles and media habits of Affluent Americans. The results reflect a number of encouraging developments and growth opportunities for media and marketers interested in Affluents.

First and foremost, we project that the Affluent population (those with at least $100,000 in annual household income) will grow 8% in 2014, to 67.5 million adults, compounding 6% growth last year. In addition, fueled by a rising stock market, Affluents’ average liquid assets grew 7%, compounding 9% growth last year. Average (mean) income and spending levels fell slightly in 2014, but remained well ahead of levels seen in 2012 and 2011 — however, median income and spending both rose. In a phrase, we are seeing “expansion without dilution” of the Affluent marketplace — 5 million more Affluents than a year ago, earning and spending at roughly the same or higher levels. 



Expansion without dilution is also boosting media audiences across platforms. For example, the number of Affluents who read a print publication rose 6% to 53.5 million; the total duplicated average-issue audience (AIA) also rose 6%, to 219.2 million. The growth in print audiences is widespread, and is apparent in 22 of the 25 publication genres we measure. On an individual level, print publication readership remains highly similar to 2013. For example, 79% of Affluents read one of the 140 reported print publications (133 magazines and 7 national newspapers), down only slightly from 81% in 2013; Affluent readers averaged reading 16.6 print publication issues from 7.4 titles, figures unchanged from 2013. (It is worth noting that Wealthy consumers — those with at least $500,000 in annual household income — read 54% more print publication issues than Affluents). 

Affluent ownership of mobile devices continues to grow, as does their consumption of digital media more generally. For example, among Affluents…

  • 58% use an iPhone or iPad, up from 53% in 2013
  • 48% now personally own a tablet, up from 9% in 2011, and 77% now have a tablet in the household 
  • 47% have a TV connected to the Internet, 23% own a smart TV, and 23% have a TV connected to a digital media receiver or streaming device – figures up significantly from 2013
  • 10 million Affluents now have a mobile payment/wallet app, an increase of 49% from 2013

It is interesting that while digital media consumption continues to infuse into every aspect of Affluent lives, use of traditional media remains highly similar to previous years. Clearly, consumption of new media is supplementing, not supplanting, traditional media use — and the result is a net increase in Affluents’ overall engagement with media. More Affluents with more money consuming more media than ever before — good news for Affluent-focused media brands and marketers indeed.

2 comments about "Expansion Without Dilution: The Affluent Population Grows In Size And Spending Power".
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  1. Rachel Geller from Liminal Research, September 18, 2014 at 3 p.m.

    I wonder how helpful the 100k+ demographic is in today's world. Our experience interviewing every kind of respondent tells us that 100k doesn't allow most families to feel, identify or purchase with an 'affluent' state of mind. Disposable income, in addition to attitudinal and values measurements would be far better screening requirements. Check out our blog on the affluent and aspirational affluent at

  2. Paula Lynn from Who Else Unlimited, September 18, 2014 at 10:16 p.m.

    10 years ago, $100,000 wasn't affluent. Comfortable for many, affluent no. It certainly won't be a pinhole of enough to buy a small condo in San Francisco.

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