THE NEAR-AFFLUENT

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There's not a lot of room at the top. Fewer than 11 million households have climbed the ladder to reach the more rarefied air of the $75,000 to $99,999 income range. This “almost rich� category is one that many marketers miss, according to Accenture consultants Brian Johnson in Chicago and Paul Nunes in Cambridge, Mass., whose “Target the Almost Rich� study appeared in the Harvard Business Review's June 2002 issue. Johnson and Nunes say that mass market products lack appeal to consumers in this income bracket, and that the true high end is out of reach for them. According to Census 2000 data, nearly 60 percent of these households are headed by people 35 to 54, which means that Boomers are dominating this market today. The majority of this group is married and have children living at home.

To appeal to these consumers, Johnson and Nunes suggest that marketers create “snob appeal� categories within the mass market. For example, specialty services, such as concierge medical services, would likely appeal to this segment if the price were right. Lower priced luxury items, such as the C230 Mercedes, which was recently introduced for under $30,000, would also appeal to this group. (For more on different demographic groups' motivations for purchasing high-end products, see “Defining Luxury: Oh, the Good Life� in American Demographics, November 2002.)

While these consumers are reaching up, they're also not quite rich yet. Coupons have a surprising appeal to people in this income group, says Melissa Harms, supervisor of targeting at marketing services firm Valassis, in Livonia, Mich. “There's a myth that people of upper incomes don't use coupons, that it's only lower income people. All of our research shows that it's the reverse,� she says. Since higher income consumers are the ones who are reading newspapers, many are still effectively reached through coupons in newspaper inserts. This near-affluent category did well in the past decade, growing to 10 percent of all households in 2000, up from 5 percent in 1990. States that are growing the fastest in population — such as Utah, Colorado and New Hampshire — also have rapidly increasing numbers of near-affluent households.

TOP 50 METROS: $75,000 TO $99,999

Many of the near-affluent make their home in the nation's midsize to larger metros, including Minneapolis, Washington, D.C., San Francisco and Boston.

RANK METRO NUMBER PERCENT
1 Minneapolis-St. Paul, MN-WI MSA 165,673 14.6%
2 Anchorage, AK MSA 13,597 14.3%
3 Washington-Baltimore, DC-MD-VA-WV CMSA 407,461 14.2%
4 San Francisco-Oakland-San Jose, CA CMSA 358,967 14.0%
5 Hartford, CT MSA 63,020 13.8%
6 Boston-Worcester-Lawrence, MA-NH-ME-CT CMSA 298,517 13.4%
7 Honolulu, HI MSA 38,442 13.4%
8 Seattle-Tacoma-Bremerton, WA CMSA 184,745 13.3%
9 Rochester, MN MSA 6,305 13.2%
10 Atlanta, GA MSA 196,561 13.1%
11 Denver-Boulder-Greeley, CO CMSA 130,548 13.0%
12 Chicago-Gary-Kenosha, IL-IN-WI CMSA 424,210 12.8%
13 Richland-Kennewick-Pasco, WA MSA 8,688 12.8%
14 Madison, WI MSA 22,232 12.8%
15 Detroit-Ann Arbor-Flint, MI CMSA 266,500 12.8%
16 New London-Norwich, CT-RI MSA 14,588 12.8%
17 Fort Collins-Loveland, CO MSA 12,311 12.7%
18 Salt Lake City-Ogden, UT MSA 54,051 12.5%
19 Kokomo, IN MSA 5,168 12.5%
20 Burlington, VT MSA 8,041 12.3%
21 Austin-San Marcos, TX MSA 58,120 12.3%
22 Philadelphia-Atlantic City-Wilmington, PA-NJ-DE-MD CMSA 283,820 12.2%
23 Milwaukee-Racine, WI CMSA 80,016 12.1%
24 Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill, NC MSA 55,962 12.1%
25 Appleton-Oshkosh-Neenah, WI MSA 16,494 12.1%
26 New York-Long Island-Northern New Jersey, NY-NJ-CT-PA CMSA 932,672 12.1%
27 Cedar Rapids, IA MSA 9,242 12.0%
28 Santa Fe, NM MSA 7,180 12.0%
29 Colorado Springs, CO MSA 23,053 12.0%
30 Salinas, CA MSA 14,469 11.9%
31 Richmond-Petersburg, VA MSA 46,285 11.9%
32 Green Bay, WI MSA 10,380 11.9%
33 Des Moines, IA MSA 21,244 11.8%
34 Kansas City, MO-KS MSA 82,144 11.8%
35 Lansing-East Lansing, MI MSA 20,320 11.8%
36 Dallas-Fort Worth, TX CMSA 223,110 11.7%
37 Barnstable-Yarmouth, MA MSA 8,125 11.7%
38 Grand Rapids-Muskegon-Holland, MI MSA 46,369 11.7%
39 Bloomington-Normal, IL MSA 6,623 11.7%
40 Janesville-Beloit, WI MSA 6,842 11.7%
41 Sacramento-Yolo, CA CMSA 77,488 11.6%
42 Rockford, IL MSA 16,467 11.6%
43 Reading, PA MSA 16,420 11.6%
44 Santa Barbara-Santa Maria-Lompoc, CA MSA 15,856 11.6%
45 Indianapolis, IN MSA 72,835 11.6%
46 Rochester, NY MSA 48,608 11.6%
47 San Diego, CA MSA 114,797 11.5%
48 Portland-Salem, OR-WA CMSA 99,718 11.5%
49 Omaha, NE-IA MSA 31,290 11.3%
50 Provo-Orem, UT MSA 11,351 11.3%
Note: Statistical ties are due to rounding.
Source: American Demographics analysis of Census 2000 data

DISAPPEARING DIVERSITY

Blacks, multiracials and Hispanics are all underrepresented in the near-affluent category. Although racial minorities represent about 20 percent of all U.S. households, they account for only 15 percent of near-affluent households. Hispanics account for 9 percent of all households, but just 6 percent of households with earnings of $75,000 to $99,999.

RACE NUMBER PERCENT
White alone 9,121,339 84.5%
Black alone 797,301 7.4%
Native American alone 50,831 0.5%
Asian alone 396,123 3.7%
Multirace 164,280 1.5%
Hispanic 682,668 6.3%
Note: Does not add to 100 percent because chart includes Hispanics, who can be of any race, and excludes Native Hawaiians.
Source: American Demographics analysis of Census 2000 data
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