NEW YORK: Retailers gearing up to cash in on this week's release of the latest Star Wars movie will be pleased to know that Star Wars fans tend to be relatively wealthy, to have young families and to spend more than the average movie-goer, according to Nielsen.

A survey by the researcher revealed that fans of the Disney-owned franchise spent $4,300 a year across the personal care, food, auto and technology categories, or $200 more than average. At the same time their households were 9% more likely to have $70,000 or more in annual income, Advertising Age reported.

In demographic terms, fans were 17% more likely to come from Generation X and to have children under 18, and while they were mostly white (75%), the popularity of the film series extends to all groups.

"The size of the fanhood is so large that I wouldn't say there are demographics with no fans," said Graham Gee, general manager for home entertainment at Nielsen.

A flood of Star Wars products – from Death Star waffle makers to Yoda bathrobes – has hit the market in time for the film's release and the proximity to Christmas will only amplify merchandise sales. One analyst has estimated these could total $5bn over the next 12 months.

"Disney made it very clear when they bought Lucasfilm that they were spending $4bn for two things: No. 1, the intellectual property rights to make more Star Wars movies, and No. 2, to increase the amount of merchandise," Steve Sansweet, Lucasfilm's director of specialty marketing between 1987 and 1996, told CBC News.

Nielsen's survey also highlighted the potential for endorsements from the stars of the film, particularly the older ones who appeared in the first three films.

Harrison Ford scored 100 out of 100 on Nielsen's N-Score, a metric that assesses the awareness, likeability and other attributes of celebrities, while Carrie Fisher and Mark Hamill both scored 79, above the cast average of 75.

Lupita Nyong'o, with 76, was the new cast member who scored the highest.

Data sourced from Advertising Age, New York Post, CBC News; additional content by Warc staff