BEIJING: Advertisers looking to engage wealthy Chinese consumers should employ a diverse range of media, including social networks and outdoor ads, a report has indicated.

Estimates from research firm CTR suggest the number of people boasting a minimum 250,000 yuan ($37k; €28k; £23k) annual income stood at 160m last year, but could top 400m in 2015.

By this date, China will only fall behind the US, Japan and UK regarding the amount of high-earning households it contains.

Women are playing a more central role in the workforce, and now make up 41.1% of the three distinct groups CTR assessed - early, middle and senior professionals.

Younger generations born in the 1970s and 1980s also demonstrate different preferences to their older counterparts.

Rising affluence and growing confidence among well-paid executives are expected to impact spending habits in a variety of categories.

Based on interviews with business leaders in ten cities, CTR found members of this demographic were exposed to more advertising channels than the general public, largely as they travel widely.

Outdoor, digital signage, mobile marketing and free reading material in outlets such as hotels, airports and coffee shops may thus prove profitable.

Some 85.9% of the most high-ranking corporate figures regularly viewed newspaper ads, hitting 80.6% for posters, while radio recorded 59.2% and LCD screens in elevators enjoyed a 50.4% reach.

These totals were all declined concerning intermediate participants, who delivered stronger ratings for magazines and the web, on 88.8% and 88.6% respectively.

Elsewhere, 48.3% of contributors utilised social media, with younger, educated panellists increasingly using wireless handsets to access online, TV and newspaper content.

Imported and luxury auto marques secured the greatest favourability for shoppers interested in buying a new vehicle.

Concerns over fashion and status pervaded several other sectors, as respondents upgraded cellphones at an 8.5% faster rate than the typical Chinese customer.

Ownership of premium SLR cameras came in at 58%, measured against 55% in 2009 and 34% in 2008.

Watches were similarly perceived as a symbol of success, with the average advance purchase now valued at 17,000 yuan.

Despite this, many people questioned by CTR are placing a heightened emphasis on their quality of life, rather than simply focusing solely on work.

In all, 66% of those polled dedicated time specifically to leisure activity - an 8% increase year-on-year - as traditional pastimes like calligraphy, fishing and drinking tea experience a resurgence in popularity.

Data sourced from CTR; additional content by Warc staff