The Rich Get Nicher, Go Online, Use Blogs, Read People Magazine

In the world of consumer targeting, not all demos are created equal. For marketers of especially high-end products and categories such as luxury goods, business travel and big, capital intensive purchases, only the most elite consumer prospects will do. The problem, however, is how to identify them with research generally designed to target the masses. Suddenly, however, Madison Avenue has grown rich in data targeting, well, the rich. In the past few weeks, Paris-based research giant Iposos released the findings of an annual study on the business elite in the U.S. and other key markets around the world, and on Monday, U.S. researcher Monroe Mendelsohn Research gave a valuable freebie to members of the American Association of Advertising Agencies: A summary report from its recently released Mendelsohn Affluent Survey.

Both studies go beyond conventional, syndicated media and marketing research aimed at the general consumer public, surveying only the most elite consumer prospects. In the case of Ipsos' research, the targets literally are the "Business Elite." In the case of MMR, they are simply the "affluent." As it turns out, there are some surprises in the media usage habits of both those high-end consumer groups.



Most startling of all, says Hugh White, director of Ipsos Media, is the fact that America's business elite - executives with C-level titles or the senior-most managers just below them - are voracious users of new media such as online blogs and podcasts, and their overall usage of online media is growing faster than the general public.

"We were absolutely surprised that these people, who are middle-aged males for the most part, are very active in these new media," says White, of the elite group representing just 0.26% of the U.S. adult population, but earning an aggregate $246 billion and having a combined net worth in excess of $1 trillion.

Nearly a third (31%) of this C-level crowd reported reading an online blog at least once a month, while 5% said they have personally contributed to a blog, statistics that surprised even the Ipsos research team.

"When we added that question for this year's survey, I told people not to expect anything," White admits, citing other noteworthy digital media stats, including the fact that nearly a quarter (23%) of the elite business audience reported downloading a podcast in the past month, and that their overall usage of the Web is growing more prevalent. More than half (54% ) reported visiting a business related Web sites, while the overall daily online reach has grown 6% since Ipsos' 2006 study.

"Media is highly important to these people," White observes, noting that they also continue to be big users of print media, especially business and financial journals, and major daily newspapers.

Meanwhile, the data released to the AAAA members on Monday may not be as elite (it represents individuals living in households with annual incomes of $85,000 or more), but it also reveals some surprising media usage patterns among America's wealthiest consumers.

The top magazine in terms of average issue audience among the richest segments is not financial magazines, golf journals, or high-end luxury magazines, but is actually People magazine, followed by House & Garden, National Geographic, and Sports Illustrated.

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