innovativelyorganizedAffluent lifestyles today are technology-enabled and media-infused. In recent years, their ownership of mobile devices went from niche to mainstream with unprecedented speed, and their overall use of digital media continues to rise.

At the same time, Affluent use of traditional media such as television and print are down only modestly, resulting in an overall increase in their engagement with media brands more broadly. Although Affluents describe their lives as busy and multitasking, there are no signs of satiation in their hunger for content and connectivity. The 10 takeaways below highlight the integral role of digital media in Affluent lives and lifestyles.

  • Internet (and Google) use essentially universal: 99%+ use the Internet, and 93% used Google search in the past 30 days.
  • Time online is rising: Affluents now average 41.6 hours online weekly – up 27% from 2011 – with strong growth for sites devoted to social media, streaming entertainment, shopping, travel, and branded/curated content sites.
  • Mobile devices are proliferating: 41% personally own tablets, up from just 9% in 2011; 63% have a smartphone, up from 45% in 2011.
  • Technology has become indispensable: 74% describe their lives as intertwined with technology, and many consider their devices extremely or very difficult to live without (70% of laptop owners, 66% of smartphone owners, and 33% of tablet owners).
  • Affluent media use takes no holidays: In the past year, three-fourths of Affluents took a smartphone on vacation, and nearly half took a tablet or laptop. The list of digital activities done while on past-year vacations is extensive, with a majority checking personal email (75%), checking the weather (72%), getting maps/directions (66%), and keeping up with the news (57%).
  • TV has gone high-tech: While Affluent viewership of traditional TV is declining 3-4% per year, Affluent TVs are increasingly connected: to video game consoles (60%), to the Internet (40%), and to streaming media devices (18%). In addition, 56% watched video on an “alternative platform” (computer, smartphone or tablet) in the past seven days.

Multi-screen multi-taskers: A majority of Affluents describe themselves as using their laptops, tablets and smartphones constantly or regularly while watching television, and 51% have engaged with social media about a TV program while watching that program.

Technology continues reshaping retail. Two-thirds have “show-roomed” (searching merchandise prices/availability digitally while in a retail store), and one-in-five do so regularly. In addition, Affluents expect to make a majority of their holiday purchases digitally.

“Tech-enthusiasts” are a large segment: In most categories, about one-fifth of Affluent consumers are enthusiasts and/or high-end shoppers. For the technology category, this figure is twice as high – for example, 42% agree, “I try to keep up with technological developments.”

Technology is the new aspirational luxury: Mass Affluent purchasing of traditional luxury brands drove the luxury boom of the mid-2000s. Today, technology, and particularly the constantly-evolving mobile devices, meet the needs of aspirational luxury shopping experiences. Across a dozen categories examined, technology has by far the largest number of Affluents who “typically buy high-end or luxury” offerings.


Stephen Kraus is SVP, Chief Insights Officer, Audience Measurement Group, Ipsos MediaCT, author of three books on affluence and success in America.


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