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Affluent Gravitating Toward Digital Media, New Ipsos Mendelsohn Survey Finds

  |  September 15, 2010   |  Comments

Ninety-eight percent of affluents are online and most are reducing their consumption of print magazines and newspapers.

Households earning more than $100,000 annually are not only helping drive adoption of devices such as smartphones and iPads; they're also reducing their consumption of traditional print magazines and newspapers. That finding, which may be unsurprising to many, comes courtesy the latest Ipsos Mendelsohn affluent survey, released today.

"Right now about 98 percent of the affluents are online - compared with 70 percent of the rest of the population - and they have lots and lots of digital devices," said Bob Shullman, president of Ipsos Mendelsohn. In another finding, more than 14 million affluents own smartphones and 900,000 own a tablet computer, even though Apple's iPad had been released just weeks before the survey was taken.

Ipsos Mendelsohn surveyed 13,804 affluent individuals for its latest study. It noted about 20 percent of U.S. homes, or 44 million households, qualify as affluent in 2010.

Some findings are far from shocking, such as that the affluent, much like the rest of the country, continue to watch TV - about 17.6 hours a week on average.

But it did have some troubling findings for traditional media, noting that consumption of print newspapers and magazines declined by 16 percent from 2009 to 2010, while Internet usage rose 12 percent, from 22.6 hours weekly to 25.3 hours over the same period.

Shullman suggested those media consumption trends are being led primarily by the growing number of emerging younger affluents, adding, "The younger affluent are different--not only are they much more Hispanic and African American, but they're also much more into digital."

Despite the rise of digital devices among the affluent, the survey also found television remains the leading platform for this group to receive advertising, followed by magazines, direct mail, newspapers, and websites.

The survey found that search engines were the leading online destinations visited by the affluent over the past year, followed by social networks, general interest/news, shopping, and travel sites. It also found that the affluent are also playing a major role in driving the mobile application market, with about 38 percent reporting they have downloaded and installed at least one app to their smartphone or wireless device.

With the affluent audience shifting online, Shullman suggested advertisers may need to adapt, especially if they want that younger, well-off consumer. "The younger affluents have different expectations on how content should be delivered," he said. But he added there is some good news in all this for the marketing community, noting, "The younger affluents are much more receptive to advertising than the older group."


David Ward is a veteran freelance journalist based in San Diego, who currently focuses on online marketing, digital entertainment and the growth on new consumer technologies such as 3D in the home.

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