Affluent Media Engagement Continues to Rise; A Majority of Media Brands Saw Their Affluent Audiences Grow in 2016

40th Annual Survey of Affluents Also Reveals Rising Interest in Social, Mobile and Ambient Advertising

Monday, October 03, 2016

New York, NY – Media use and interest in advertising among Affluent consumers continue to grow, even from already high levels, according to the Fall 2016 Ipsos Affluent Survey USA, the 40th annual version of which was 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 25% of American households; Affluents have a median income of $146K, and a mean income of $221K. “Affluent use of digital and mobile media continues to rise, while their use of traditional media remains largely stable – resulting in a net increase in Affluent media audiences overall,” according to study Director and Chief Insights Officer Dr. Stephen Kraus.

Compared to the Spring 2016 Release of the study, the Fall 2016 results show that a majority (54%) of the 290 reported media brands saw increases in their Total Brand Footprint – their total audience across all measured platforms -- compared to only 40% that saw their Total Brand Footprint decline. The overall increase in Total Brand Footprint was driven by increases in Digital Brand Footprint (up for 77% of media brands) and for websites specifically (past month visitation rose for 64% of websites).

Social media use shows signs of rising and broadening as well. Facebook continues to lead in both the percent of Affluents using (78% in the past week), and in the amount of time used (a median of 3 hours per week), but there was significant growth in the percent using Instagram, Snapchat and Twitter. These results also show interesting growth patterns by generation – Snapchat is rising most among Millennials (age 18-34), Pinterest and Twitter are up most among Gen Xers (age 35-51), and LinkedIn is up most among Seniors (aged 71+).

While digital media use continues rising, readership of print publications remains largely stable. Affluents read a median of six of the 130 reported magazine titles; 84% of Affluents read at least one of the titles, including 82% who read at least one in print format, and 37% who read a digital magazine edition. Forty-six percent of print magazines saw their Average-Issue Audience increase, compared to 49% who saw a decrease. Nearly half (48%) read at least one of nine reported national newspapers, including 36% who read at least one in print format, and 29% who read a digital edition.

Television viewership remains essentially universal, with 97% of Affluents watching television in the past week. The median self-reported number of hours watched in the past week dropped 2%, to 18.2, and the median self-reported number of networks watched in the past week dropped 3%, to 13.9. Fifty-six percent of the 100 reported television networks saw a decline in viewership from Spring 2016, while 34% saw an increase. Seventy-three percent watched streaming video services in the past seven days, for a median of 6.8 hours weekly – both figures are up from Spring 2016.

As in previous waves, Affluent consumers express the greatest interest in advertising seen on television and in magazines. Affluent interest in advertising on some less traditional platforms is lower but on the rise, with growing interest evident for advertising on social media, on mobile devices, and in “ambient” contexts such as taxis, elevators, health clubs and casinos/race tracks. The Fall 2015 release of the Ipsos Affluent Survey USA documented that, for the first time, Generation Xers outnumbered Baby Boomers within the Affluent population. This “generational changing of the guard” continues to accelerate; the Fall 2016 release shows that Gen Xers are now 36% of the Affluent population, outnumbering Boomers (32%), Millennials (27%) and Seniors (5%).

The Fall 2016 Ipsos Affluent Survey also provides a rare opportunity to explore long-term trends in Affluent lives and media use as it marks the 40th anniversary of the study, which was first produced in 1977 as The Survey of Adults and Markets of Affluence by Mendelsohn Media Research, Inc. The initial study used a definition of “Affluent” as households making at least $40,000, which reflected the top 4% of the population at the time. Changes in the study methodology and questionnaire over time makes stringent “apples-to-apples” tracking over time challenging, but four key trends stand out:

  • The democratization of luxury: for example, the personal travel patterns of today’s top 25% resemble those of the top 4% in 1977. More generally, the options and access experienced by the elite in 1977 are available to much broader segments today.
  • The abundance of options: in both the marketplace and the media, options for consumers have proliferated. This allows consumers to explore niche passions in the long-tail, but also can create a sense of “option overwhelm.”
  • The broadening of tastes: For example, in 1977, liquor preferences skewed toward a few brown goods (e.g., scotch, whiskey and bourbon), while today’s preferences are dispersed across an array of brown and white goods (tequila shows particular growth over time).
  • The transformation of technology: business travel among Affluents is down significantly from 1977, shaped by changes in communication technologies over time. The transformation of technology is also apparent in what wasn’t measured in the 1977 survey, as the study predated virtually all consumer use of the Internet and cell phones.

More information on Affluents will be discussed during our October 12 webinar. Register here:

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 Fall 2016 Ipsos Affluent Survey USA marks its 40th consecutive year of tracking the lives, lifestyles and media habits Affluent Americans, dating back to the study’s 1977 founding as The Survey of Adults and Markets of Affluence by Mendelsohn Media Research, Inc. Today, the Ipsos Affluent Survey USA is used by hundreds of subscribing organizations to support a range of business decisions. Among other uses, it 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 Fall 2016 Ipsos Affluent Survey USA release is based on online interviews conducted from June 22, 2015 through June 20, 2016, and has a sample size of 24,424 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 75.5 million Affluent adults. In addition to the United States, the Ipsos Affluent Survey covers 50 additional countries.

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 has been listed on the Paris Stock Exchange since 1999 and generated global revenues of €1,785.3 million ($1,981 million) in 2015.

Affluent Media Engagement Continues to Rise; A Majority of Media Brands Saw Their Affluent Audiences Grow in 2016

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Elen Alexov
Director, Marketing Services,
North America

Steve Kraus
SVP, Chief Insights Officer, US
Ipsos Connect