Digitas' Proprietary Study "Affluence in America: The New Consumer Landscape" Reveals the New Wave of Affluence in America

53% of the Once-dominant "Mass Affluent" ($100-199K income) Now Consider Themselves Middle Class;

Rise of the "Class Affluent" ($200K + income) and the "Emerging Affluent" (35 years old or younger)

May 25, 2011, 14:26 ET from Digitas

NEW YORK, May 25, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- Digitas, the leading global integrated brand agency, announces key trends from proprietary research -- "Affluence in America: The New Consumer Landscape," -- developed in partnership with Ipsos Mendelsohn.  

(Photo: http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20110525/PH09058 )

(Logo: http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20100616/NE22345LOGO )

The study reveals that the future of affluence is not like the past, and that "mass affluence" has given way to the spending power of the truly and the up-and-coming affluent -- the "Class Affluent" and the "Emerging Affluent."

"In the wake of the global economic recession, marketers need a new map and compass to the affluent landscape, including media consumption.  It's crucial for business planning, targeting, new product development, communications, and creative," said George Scribner, SVP/People Planning, Digitas and leading force behind the study. "We believe this new segmentation and the consumer insights derived from this research will empower both our clients and marketers across the U.S. to better identify, understand and reach their most valuable customers."


  • The Mass Affluent ($100-$199K household income level) has disappeared.
    • They don't have the leveraged spending power they once had and now have to live on income alone.  Not surprisingly, an overwhelming majority (53%) classify themselves as middle class.  They have been replaced by:
      • The Class Affluent -- earn $200K HHI or more yearly and 54% classify themselves as upper-middle class.
      • The Emerging Affluent -- earn $100-$199K; same as the Mass Affluent YET are under 35 years old.

  • The Rise of the Class Affluent (in a "class" by themselves):
    • Earns between $200K HHI (the minimum threshold for true affluence in America according to our findings) and $1 million+ HHI annually.
    • Represents the minority -- only 8.5 million in a country of 307 million people.
    • Three tiers of Class Affluence.
      • The Affluent -- $200K–$499K HHI -- The Creative Class: The Affluent are the creative class. They are likely to work in creative fields or industries, like software design, publishing, architecture, advertising, or journalism.
      • The Wealthy -- $499K–$999K HHI -- The Money Class: Likely to work in Finance and Consulting.
      • The Rich -- $1 million+ HHI -- The Leadership Class: They are individuals who run companies and influence industry. They command the highest incomes and make decisions that affect many. They can be found in high-income careers, like financial or legal services, or break-out industries like Internet properties/services or real estate.  
    • In terms of media behavior, Digitas has identified a direct correlation between level of affluence and digital media usage.  Early adoption of new digital devices, digital content consumption, and mobile usage all increase with affluence.  

  • Emerging Affluent: 5.5 million people who are currently in the work force and on their way to affluence.
    • They have the same HHI as the Mass Affluent ($100K–$199K) but are younger, under 35.
    • Emerging Affluents work in careers that will eventually deliver affluence -- financial services, legal services, and engineering -- but they are still in the low to middle management tiers.
    • This group has all the attitudes of the truly affluent. They consider themselves opinion leaders, follow trends, love to travel, and are passionate about food and dining. They pursue both stylish youth-oriented brands like Scion, Diesel, and Samsung and true luxury brands like H. Stern, Tiffany, St. Ives, and D&G.
    • What sets this group apart from all others is their intensely digital media behavior.  Universally digital, members of this class use mobile devices for communicating, consuming content, enjoying music, and gaming. They use social networks and blog, and they prefer apps to 411 to research restaurants, recommend products, or get deals from marketers.

  • Geographic Highlights (see chart above)
    • Northeast commands the highest index of "Rich": 27% (index: 127).
    • Midwest has the highest concentration of "Emerging":  26% (index: 125).
    • "South" and "West" regions have relatively equal representation across all tiers of Affluence.


The primary source of quantitative data is the Mendelsohn Affluence Survey, fielded March 2010 with heads-of-households that have household income (HHI) of $100,000 or more. Digitas sought signs of affluence based on a range of lifestyle behaviors and then to identify the tiers of affluence. Once establishing the affluence hierarchy, Digitas mined the data further for source of income, attitudes, purchasing patterns, and media usage.

Digitas--Leader in Insights and Research  

Digitas also recently released Digitas Trends, a forecast report with a list of 45 trends across six categories -- culture, data, devices, media, mobile and social. Digitas Trends is housed in an app format and available on iTunes.

For more information on Digitas' "Affluence in America: The New Consumer Landscape," please contact George Scribner at George.Scribner@digitas.com.

About Digitas

Digitas, the top global integrated brand agency, builds active brands for some of the foremost companies in the world.  With a deep understanding of their client's customer's passions and behaviors, the agency combines media creativity, technology, creativity, analytics to ignite emotional bonds between people and brands. Digitas counts Agency of the Year honors from the Festival of Media, OMMA Magazine, Promo Magazine, BtoB Magazine, and Les Agences de l'Annee, France, and has been named to the Advertising Age Digital A-List among its many awards.

Digitas also operates the brand content platform, The Third Act:, producers of first and most well renowned event on digital content, The NewFront; the healthcare marketing brand, Digitas Health; and, Prodigious Worldwide, the world's only standalone, global digital productions company.

With sister agencies Starcom MediaVest, ZenithOptimedia, Denuo and Razorfish, Digitas is a member of Publicis Groupe's VivaKi -- a global digital knowledge and resource center that leverages the combined scale of the autonomous operations of its members to develop new services, new tools, and new partnerships.

Publicis Groupe [listed on the Euronext Paris Exchange - FR0000130577 - and part of the CAC 40 index] is the world's third largest communications group. With activities spanning 104 countries on five continents, Publicis Groupe offers local and international clients a complete range of advertising services. Web site: www.publicisgroupe.com

www.digitas.com | Twitter: @Digitas | Facebook: Digitas Fan Page | Blog: Digitas Distillery


Ipsos Mendelsohn, a division of Ipsos OTX MediaCT, specializes in providing media and marketing insights to clients interested in better understanding the upscale segments of the American consumer marketplace. Conducting high-quality media and marketing research, Ipsos Mendelsohn has reported on the demographic, behavioral, and attitudinal characteristics of the American affluent population for the past 34 years in its syndicated offering, The Mendelsohn Affluent Survey, and its ongoing monthly offering, "The Mendelsohn Affluent Barometer." To read more about The Mendelsohn Affluent Survey: http://www.ipsos-na.com/products-tools/media-content-technology/syndicated-studies/mendelsohn-affluent-survey.aspx.

To learn more contact: Mark Kostelec mark.kostelec@ipsos.com

SOURCE Digitas