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Affluent optimism grows

News, 23 December 2014

NEW YORK: Affluent Americans are not planning on spending more individually this holiday season, but their overall numbers have grown significantly since last year and a new survey consequently expects a positive holiday result for retailers.

The latest quarterly Ipsos Affluent Barometer, a study tracking the lives and spending habits of Americans with at least $100,000 in annual household income, found that 49% of Affluent Americans were optimistic about the US economy, up from 45% in Q3. This attitude was particularly strong among Affluent men, Affluent Millennials, and Ultra Affluents.

Overall, the survey said that Affluents anticipated spending an average of $1,939 on holiday gifts this season, and while this figure was comparable to 2013, the total Affluent population had grown 8% in 2014.

The result, according to Dr. Stephen Kraus, Chief Insights Officer for the Ipsos Affluent Survey, has been "continued 'expansion without dilution' of the Affluent market – five million more Affluents than last holiday season, earning and spending at the same levels. In terms of aggregate spending by the Affluent population, the prospects are bright for a happy holiday season."

This was especially evident in the near doubling of the proportion of Affluents preparing to purchase a high-end gift: 48% in 2014 compared to just 25% in 2013.

Vacations (on the giving list for 22% of Affluents), fragrances/colognes over $30 (17%), and smartphones (13%) were all popular options that were significantly up from a year ago.

As well as buying trips for others the survey said that more than half of Affluents planed to travel at the holiday season, including 42% planning to travel for Christmas, Hanukkah or Kwanzaa, and 28% planning to travel for New Year.

One in ten purchases by this group are made by mobile device, double that among younger Affluent Millennials. Otherwise holiday purchases are split evenly between retail stores (45%) and computer (44%).

Evan Borak, Head of Ipsos MediaCT's Audience Measurement Group, observed that one quarter of the population held three quarters of the net worth. "Affluent spending is a crucial factor in mainstream categories as well as luxury ones, both in the holiday season and throughout the year," he said.

"With the growing size and spending power of the Affluent population, every marketer in every category needs an Affluent strategy," he added.

Data sourced from Ipsos; additional content by Warc staff