America's Rich Spend More Time Online, Reports Ipsos

04 September 2008

NEW YORK: "Let me tell you about the very rich. They are different from you and me," wrote F Scott Fitzgerald (to which Ernest Hemingway famously replied: "Yes, they have more money.")

Ipsos Mendelsohn's new Affluent Survey, released Tuesday, supports the Fitzgerald hypothesis – at least, insofar as their use of digital media is concerned. As the rich get richer, they spend more time online, reports the survey.

Affluent heads of household (an income of $100,000 upward) are digi-savvy, almost all of whom own and use a desktop or laptop and cell or mobile, the study notes. This group, representing about 20% of US households, is online via a computer for an average of 26 times weekly and 17.6 times by way of a cellphone or mobile device.

In total, the plutocracy averaged 23.4 hours per week online. Among the über-rich ($250,000+) the figure rises to 27.4 hours.

The same applies to the use of mobile devices. While 40% of affluent households use handheld devices to access the web, the percentage rises from 34% for those within the $100k-$150k level to 57% among the $250,000+ bracket.

IM president Bob Shullman grabs the bull of the blindingly obvious by its horns, urging luxury goods manufacturers to embrace mobile marketing.

"If you want to experiment, [you] should probably be doing it much more in the affluent space, because these people are already doing it … [they] are much higher up the learning curve."

The rich can also afford to buck the trends embraced by the hoi polloi – they still read magazines, for example, while eschewing such proletarian pastimes as TV and radio. During the four-month survey period upper-income consumers read an average of eight titles and around eighteen individual issues.

Observes IM's svp of research Ted D'Amico: "There's a direct relationship between income and education, and there's a direct relationship between education and readership. One of the reasons it's kept pace over time is affluent people read more."

Data sourced from AdWeek (USA); additional content by WARC staff