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To the Editors of American Demographics:

Do you have any information about the demographics of book buyers, by age and genre of book?

Nancy Rubin Stuart

New York City

Dear Nancy:

Of course we can tell you who reaches for books from the science fiction shelf and who prefers to stick to biographies. But before we do that, let's take a quick look at the book industry overall.

Sales of books to consumers last year totaled $22.4 billion, up from $21.6 billion in 2000 and from $20.5 billion in 1999, according to Book Industry Trends, an annual publication distributed by the Book Industry Study Group in Matawan, N.J. Retail stores and online outlets accounted for the largest share of 2001 sales — 67 percent, or $15 billion. Direct-to-consumer outlets and book clubs captured another 20 percent of the market, or $4.5 billion, and non-textbook sales in college bookstores claimed the remaining 13 percent of last year's revenues, or $2.9 billion.

Now that we've covered the basics, we'll move on to the more advanced material. Young adults (ages 18 to 24) and senior citizens (age 65 and older) are generally less likely than the average American to buy books, regardless of the genre. New York City-based Simmons Market Research Bureau reports that those 65 and older are 74 percent less likely than the average adult to buy a sci-fi novel, 29 percent less likely to buy a work of fiction and 20 percent less likely to buy an autobiography or biography. Likewise, 18- to 24-year-olds are 25 percent less likely to buy a mystery novel, 13 percent less likely to buy a self-help book and 37 percent less likely to buy religious titles.

But there are some categories that sell consistently across generations. According to Simmons, history books and romance titles have the greatest multigenerational appeal. In fact, regardless of age, no more than 10 percent and no fewer than 7 percent of adults have recently purchased a history or a romance novel.

Other genres, such as children's books, are significantly more dependent on the buyer's age. Fully 28 percent of 25- to 34-year-olds and 24 percent of 35- to 44-year-olds have bought a children's book in recent months, compared with just 12 percent of 18- to 24-year-olds and 17 percent of 45- to 64-year-olds who have done the same.

Religious books are also strongly tied to the age of the reader, increasing steadily in popularity as one gets older. According to Simmons, only 7 percent of 18- to 24-year-olds recently bought a book with a religious theme, compared with 10 percent of 25- to 34-year-olds, 13 percent of 45- to 54-year-olds and 14 percent of those between 55 and 64. Among those age 65 and older, religious book purchasing drops noticeably, to just 9 percent. After all, how many “Chicken Soup� books does one soul really need?


To the Editors of American Demographics:

Can you help me find details on the hair color industry? I'm looking for statistics on the use of hair color in the U.S. by age, gender and race. I would also like some information on the size of the hair color industry and the market share of the major manufacturers.

Ritu Agrawal

ITA, Inc.

Elk Grove Village, Ill.

Dear Ritu:

Americans spend well over a billion dollars a year simply to change the color of their hair. Sales of men's, women's and costume hair-coloring kits sold at food, drug and mass merchant outlets (including Wal-Mart) reached a staggering $1.6 billion for the 52-week period ending March 23, 2002, according to ACNielsen, the Schaumburg, Ill.-based market research firm. That's up 7.5 percent over the same period the previous year. In terms of sheer volume, ACNielsen estimates that more than 252 million units of hair dye were sold in stores nationwide between March 2001 and March 2002, up from 242 million units sold in the year before.

Unit sales of hair dyes for men are increasing at more than twice the rate of dyes for women. In just the past year, ACNielsen reports that unit sales of men's hair coloring products grew by 7.6 percent, to 23.7 million units, while women's hair color sales rose 3.2 percent, to 223.2 million units. Granted, men's hair dyes still constitute barely a tenth of the total hair color market (in terms of both dollar sales and unit sales), but that share is climbing steadily, guided primarily by young men who are increasingly driven to change the look of their locks.

It's true. Men ages 18 to 24 are 64 percent more likely to dye their hair than the average adult male, reveals New York City-based Simmons Market Research Bureau. In the past year alone, 9 percent of men 18 to 24 dyed their hair, compared with only 4 percent of 25- to 44-year-olds and 6 percent of 45- to 54-year-olds. Men between 55 and 64 years of age are most similar to young men in their propensity to dye: An estimated 8 percent of men in this age group colored their hair in the past year. Among women, age is less of a factor in determining who is likely to take on a new hue. According to Simmons, roughly 1 out of every 3 women, regardless of age, admits to coloring her hair.

While a woman's age may not be a telltale sign of whether or not she colors her hair, the tone of her skin is more revealing. ACNielsen reports that white women are 35 percent more likely to change their hair color than are nonwhite women. For men, surprisingly, the trend is reversed. In fact, nonwhite males are 41 percent more likely than white men to dye their locks.

Where a woman lives can also determine whether she reaches for Ravishing Red or Sun-Kissed Blonde when choosing her hair dye. (See map, page 10.) Surprisingly, while California is known for its abundance of blondes, blonde hair dyes account for a far smaller share of the at-home hair color market in the Pacific region (32 percent) than they do in any other part of the country.

According to industry numbers shared with American Demographics by Clairol, brown hair color tops the list in the Pacific region, clearing 40 percent of all hair dye sales. Red and black hair dyes are also disproportionally more popular in this region, with 20 percent and 6 percent of sales, respectively. Where are the bottled blondes? Check out the swath of land from Florida to the Dakotas in the North, where blonde dyes make up a larger share of the hair color market than in any other region — 45 percent.

As for market share, L'Oreal controls 42 percent of the $1.6 billion mass merchandise hair dye market, and Clairol controls another 36 percent. According to data from Chicago-based Information Resources, Inc. (IRI), brands produced by Combe, Revlon and Garnier claim another 8 percent, 6 percent and 6 percent of the market, respectively.


In 2001, general fiction titles accounted for 10 percent of all adult books sold nationwide — that's up 3.6 percentage points from 1999, when such titles accounted for only 6.4 percent of adult books sold.


General fiction 6.4% 10.0% +3.6
Mystery/thriller 13.8% 15.0% +1.2
General nonfiction 0.9% 1.3% +0.4
Religious 13.0% 13.5% +0.5
History 2.3% 2.4% +0.1
Biography/autobiography 3.1% 3.0% -0.1
Cooking 3.7% 3.5% -0.2
Romance 20.7% 20.0% -0.7
Self-help 5.2% 4.4% -0.8
Science fiction 6.5% 5.5% -1.0
Business 5.8% 4.2% -1.6
*Numbers do not add to 100 because not all genres are listed. Source: Ipsos BookTrends


The color in each region indicates that disproportionally large shares of that hair color are sold in that region. For example, red hair dyes are more popular in the Mountain States than in any other region.


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