Among Affluents, Xers Outnumber Boomers for the First Time Ever: “Generational Changing of the Guard” Reflects Fundamental Demographic and Marketplace Shift

New survey also reveals how multiple media platforms extend the reach of media brands by an average of 50%

Friday, September 18, 2015

New York, NY – For the first time ever, the Affluent population of the United States has more Generation Xers than Baby Boomers, signaling a generational “changing of the guard,” according to the 2015 Ipsos Affluent Survey USA, released today. The Survey defines “Affluent” as adults living in households with at least $100,000 in annual household income, a group that reflects the top 23% of American households; Affluents have a median income of $145K, and a mean income of $227K. Thirty-seven percent of Affluents are Gen Xers (aged 34-50), compared to 33% who are Baby Boomers (aged 51-69); an additional 25% are Millennials (18-33) and 5% are Seniors (70+). According to Chief Insights Officer Dr. Stephen Kraus, “We are seeing a true changing of the generational guard in the Affluent population. Long over-looked and under-estimated, Gen Xers now outnumber Boomers among Affluents.”

In marking its 39th consecutive year of studying the lives and lifestyles of financially-successful Americans, the study details the $2.7 trillion dollars in annual consumer spending by Affluents, with the largest expenditure categories being (in order) automotive, home/garden, personal insurance, travel, education and electronics. Affluents own and use a wide range of brands, from mainstream to luxury, and shop widely across the retail spectrum – online and offline, and at both mass outlets and luxury boutiques. Affluents display a strong value-orientation (79% agree, “good value for the money is more important than price”), but also express a willingness to pay a premium for quality across a variety of categories.

Ipsos Affluent Survey USA also provides a deeper understanding of the attitudes, mindsets and media habits of each generation of Affluents. Not surprisingly, Affluent Millennials are heavy social media users, averaging a median of 10.4 hours weekly, nearly double the 5.5 hours for Affluents in general. Affluent Millennials are decidedly not “too cool” for Facebook, as Facebook leads across generations in both the percent using and time spent. Affluent Millennials are, however, far more likely than Affluents in general to use other social media networks, particularly Instagram (54% Affluent Millennials using in the past week, vs. 29% of total Affluents) and Snapchat (35% vs. 13%).

Among Gen Xers, the data reveal that this often-overlooked generation is not only the largest generation of Affluents, but is more multi-faceted and less monolithic than some might expect. Across many measures, younger Xers act more likely Millennials, while older Xers are psychographically more similar to Boomers. In particular, age 40 appears to be something a tipping point. Xers under 40 are far more interested than older Xers in social media, entertainment trends and organic food. For example, 74% of younger Xers “prefer to stream music online instead of buying CDs or downloaded music,” compared to just 45% of older Xers.

Baby Boomers may have lost their spot as the largest generation of Affluents, and rarely generate the buzz of younger generations. But the survey reveals Boomers remain a critical target for media and marketers in many respects. For example, Boomers who responded to the survey reported a median household net worth of $913K, far surpassing the $552K of Xers and the $516 of Millennials (Although Seniors are only 5% of Affluents, they have even higher net worth – a median of $1.42 million).

The 2015 Ipsos Affluent Survey USA also provides an industry leading-perspective on how Affluents consume media across traditional and new media platforms, including magazines, television, websites, social media, mobile apps, radio, podcasts and more. This new and comprehensive perspective on cross-platform media use finds that, across more than 290 measured media brands, the average “total brand footprint” was 50% greater than the audience for the brand’s “core” platform.

The 2015 Ipsos Affluent Survey USA also reveals that Affluents are particularly likely to live in urban areas (44% of Affluents live in ten major cities, compared to 30% of the general population). Ten percent of Affluents live in New York City, followed by 7% living in Los Angeles, 5% in Chicago, and 4% each in San Francisco and Washington DC. The Survey also provides an interesting perspective on how Affluents in various cities differ from one another. For example…

  • 61% of Affluents in New York City agree, “My cultural or ethnic heritage is a very important part of my life” (vs. 49% nationally) – displaying strong cultural identification, even though Affluents in New York show no strong skews in their ethnicity, country of origin, or languages spoken. New York Affluents also have stronger-than-average interests in fashion and luxury.
  • Compared to other major cities, Affluents in San Francisco rank #2 in household income (median $162K) and #1 in net worth (median $972K). Twenty-nine percent of San Francisco Affluents are Asian (vs.8% of Affluents nationally). San Francisco Affluents also skew liberal with interests in hybrids, organic food, and international travel.
  • Affluents in Los Angeles are demographically and psychologically distinct from their counterparts in northern California, and show strong interests in automobiles, luxury, fashion, and entertainment.

Evan Borak, Senior Vice President of Ipsos Connect, and Head of its Audience Measurement Group, summarized the conclusions: “One-fourth of the U.S. population now holds three-fourths of the net worth, making this segment more important to media and marketers than ever before. Our 2015 Ipsos Affluent Survey is a sophisticated tool for reaching Affluents with the right message across the right channels at the right time – something that’s increasingly important amid today’s generational shifts, geographic subtleties, and the complexity of how Affluents consume media across channels.”

For more information on this news release, please contact:

Steve Kraus
SVP, Chief Insights Officer, Audience Measurement Group
Ipsos Connect
(415) 293-9711

Elen Alexov
Director, Marketing Services, North America
(778) 373-5136

About the Ipsos Affluent Survey USA

The 2015 Ipsos Affluent Survey USA marks its 39th consecutive year of tracking the lives, lifestyles and media habits Affluent Americans, dating back to the study’s 1977 founding as the Mendelsohn Affluent Survey. Today the Ipsos Affluent Survey USA has 4,000+ individual users from 400+ subscribing organizations, and among other uses serves as a cross-platform media planning currency study – an objective source of audience measurement data used by advertisers, agencies and media companies in negotiating advertising sales. The 2015 Ipsos Affluent Survey USA was conducted from January through June, and has a sample size of 15,267 adults living in households with at least $100,000 in annual household income. The survey uses rigorous methodologies to ensure the results are projectable to the population of America’s 68.5 million Affluents. Roughly 23% of U.S. households, Ipsos analyses of the Federal Reserve Board’s Survey of Consumer Finances show that Affluents hold approximately 74% of U.S. net worth, and spend a majority of the dollars in many marketplace categories.

The Ipsos Affluent Survey provides a global perspective on Affluents in 51 countries. It combines the resources and insights of industry leading studies around the world, including the studies previously branded as the Mendelsohn Affluent Survey (USA), PAX (covering Asia Pacific), and EMS (covering Europe, Africa, Latin America and the Middle East).

About the Audience Measurement Group of Ipsos Connect

The Ipsos Affluent Survey USA is produced by the Audience Measurement Group of Ipsos Connect. Led by a team of senior professionals, the Audience Measurement Group is recognized for its expertise in understanding Affluent lives, lifestyles, spending and media use. Ipsos Connect specializes in research about the intersection of media, content and technology. Ipsos is a publicly-traded company headquartered in Paris, and is the 3rd largest research firm in the world.

About Ipsos

Ipsos is an independent market research company controlled and managed by research professionals. Founded in France in 1975, Ipsos has grown into a worldwide research group with a strong presence in all key markets. Ipsos ranks third in the global research industry.

With offices in 87 countries, Ipsos delivers insightful expertise across five research specializations: brand, advertising and media, customer loyalty, marketing, public affairs research, and survey management.

Ipsos researchers assess market potential and interpret market trends. They develop and build brands. They help clients build long-term relationships with their customers. They test advertising and study audience responses to various media and they measure public opinion around the globe.

Ipsos has been listed on the Paris Stock Exchange since 1999 and generated global revenues of €1,669.5 ($2,218.4 million) in 2014.

Visit to learn more about Ipsos’ offerings and capabilities.

Among Affluents, Xers Outnumber Boomers for the First Time Ever:
“Generational Changing of the Guard” Reflects Fundamental Demographic and Marketplace Shift

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Press Release


Elen Alexov
Director, Marketing Services,
North America

Steve Kraus
SVP, Chief Insights Officer, US
Ipsos Connect