TOP TRENDS FOR 2003

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Full-service restaurants, travel agencies, baby-related services. These are among the businesses likely to benefit from the consumer trends expected to prevail in 2003. In this month's issue, Peter Francese, founder of American Demographics, discusses 10 key consumer trends that will impact businesses for years to come.

Over the next few weeks, you'll be hearing a lot in the media about “what's ahead for the New Year.� Many experts will weigh in, pointing to fads that will ultimately turn out to be as fleeting as last year's fashions. This year, as we celebrate our silver anniversary, Francese, who founded this magazine 25 years ago to identify consumer trends for business leaders, reminds us of the larger, long-term demographic shifts that continue to work their way through the American landscape. “While much has been discussed about consumer sentiment and the state of the economy, beneath these short-term fluctuations are long-term tectonic shifts that will affect spending for decades to come,� Francese says.

One way for companies to gain a sense of those underlying changes is to see what they can glean from income data. In this month's cover story, “The Income Report,� Editor-at-Large Alison Stein Wellner presents the latest from Census 2000 on where to find consumers of all income levels. Since business strategies often start by gathering information about household income on potential target markets, we provide the demographic breakdowns by income level, as well as where to find consumers by income group. The Census Bureau offers data on household income in 16 separate income categories, ranging from under $5,000 to $200,000 and over. For this report, American Demographics created five income groups from these sixteen. Taking into account the concerns of a business readership, we focused in greater detail on households that earn more than the U.S. median of $41,994.

This is the most detailed Census information available about Americans' income in a decade — the kind of data readers have come to count on from us. Says Wellner: “In a market where consumer spending is shrinking, business can't afford to be led astray by money myths. Accurate and up-to-date information on income is essential in separating consumers from the proceeds of their hard-earned paychecks.� Our report reveals that over the past decade, median household income climbed, as did the share of affluent households. And the metro areas that are home to the highest concentrations of the well-heeled are not confined to traditional urban centers, such as New York. You'll also find them in the scenic locales of West Palm Beach, Fla., and Santa Barbara, Calif.

This holiday season, we also present a snapshot of the state of philanthropy in America today. In “Generosity and Income,� Senior Editor Rebecca Gardyn looks at each income group to see who is giving to charitable causes. Who gives the greatest share of their money away might surprise you.

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