New Market Research on Affluent Media Consumption and Holiday Buying Patterns


The 2013 Ipsos Affluent Survey USA, released a week ago, reports that the affluent population in the United States has increased in size and financial resources. In addition, affluents are still consumers of traditional media, even though their use of digital media continues to grow.
The study projects that there are now 62.5 million affluents in the United States, up more than 6 percent over the past two years. In this Ipsos study, affluents are those adults aged 18+ living in households with at least $100,000 in annual household income. Compared to 2012, affluents' average income rose 4.6 percent to $200,200, and their net worth rose 2.0 percent to $1.01 million.
Other findings from the 2013 Ipsos Affluent Survey USA reaffirm the power of the hard copy print publications in affluent lives. As in 2012, 81 percent of affluents read at least one of the 142 reported print publications (135 magazines and 7 national newspapers); coupled with the growth of the affluent population, the number of affluents who read a print publication rose to more than 50 million.
The study also reports that print readership slants significantly higher among affluent women, ultra affluents (those who have a household income of $250,000 plus) and wealthy consumers (those whose household incomes are $500,000 and over). Affluents read 16.7 issues from 7.4 different titles, but ultra affluents read 22 percent more titles (9.0 vs. 7.4) and 29 percent more issues (21.6 vs. 16.7). The slants are even more dramatic among wealthy consumers who read 45 percent more titles (10.7 vs. 7.4) and 62 percent more issues (27.0 vs. 16.7) than affluents. Compared to affluent men, affluent women read 16 percent more titles and 17 percent more issues.
While affluent print readership remains pervasive, affluent enthusiasm for digital media and mobile devices continues to grow sharply. For example, among affluents:

  • 63 percent now own a smartphone, up from 55 percent in 2012 and 45 percent in 2011
  • 41 percent now own a tablet, up from 26 percent in 2012 and just 9 percent in 2011

Virtually all affluents (99 percent+) use the Internet. Hours online in a typical week rose to 41.6, up from 37.4 in 2012; affluent millennials (those aged 18-31) average 52.7 hours online weekly, up from 42.4 in 2012. However, 6.9 million affluents have downloaded a magazine app, up 47 percent from 4.7 million in 2012; 8.5 million affluents have downloaded a newspaper app, up 21 percent from 7.0 in 2012.
Dr. Stephen Kraus, Chief Insights Officer for the survey, said "Affluents continue to show a great enthusiasm for entertainment, information and connectivity across media and platforms. Their growing digital media use tends to supplement — rather than replace — traditional media use, and the result is real growth in their engagement with media as a whole."
This data seems to link well with the findings of the Fall 2013 Affluent Market Tracking Survey, produced by the American Affluence Research Center. Many affluents often look to media to choose what and how to buy for the holidays. Here are some useful highlights:

  • This year, 97 percent of affluent consumers will buy holiday (Christmas or Hanukah) gifts. In 2012, the figure was 93 percent. In 2011, it was 91 percent. In 2010, it registered at 88 percent, a drop from the 91 percent recorded in 2009, and the high of 97 percent in pre-recession 2006.
  • Respondents estimate the adults in their household spent an average of $2,564 in 2012 and $2,154 in 2011 on holiday gifts. Past averages were $2,357 in 2010; $2,399 in 2009 and $2,505 in 2008.
  • This year 7 percent of affluent consumers say they will spend more on holiday gifts than in 2012, and 73 percent say they will spend the same. These numbers were 6 percent and 71 percent respectively in the 2012 survey and 3 percent and 69 percent respectively in the 2011 survey.

  • With 7 percent saying they will spend more (an average of 10 percent) and 20 percent saying they will spend less (an average of 14 percent), the weighted average change in spending per affluent household is estimated to be negative 2.0 percent.

  • With a 2.0 percent decline from 2012 average spending, the estimate for average 2013 spending is $2,513 per household. This equates to a total spend of $27.8 billion for the affluent households that will be buying holiday gifts this year. The larger percentage of households buying gifts will offset the potential slight decline in average spending per household and result in about a 2.2 percent increase over the level of total 2012 spending.