If You're Rich, You Still Have Time to Read

The Wealthy Are Spending More Time Online, Less Hours on TV

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- Well-off readers say they read print publications just as much now as they did five years ago, according to the latest survey of affluent readers by Ipsos Mendelsohn.
Bob Shullman is president of Ipsos Mendelsohn.
Bob Shullman is president of Ipsos Mendelsohn.

Respondents making more than $100,000 annually said their average hours online had grown to 22.1 each week from 10.7, while the time they said they spent watching TV sunk to 18.6 hours from 23.7 in the 2003 survey. And they said their time spent listening to the radio had declined slightly. But they said they're regularly reading an average of 15.3 print publications, a notch above 15.1 five years earlier. Readers making more than $250,000 said they read just as many publications, 23.8 now, as they did in 2003.

Ray of light
"The conventional wisdom for print is 'Woe is me,'" said Bob Shullman, president of Ipsos Mendelsohn. "But if you look at this, at least among the affluent population, readership of issues per capita, it's staying constant."

The magazine business has its worries, to be sure: High gas prices are reducing drives to the supermarket while the broader economic slump makes readers think twice before buying new magazines. Newsstand sales, as a result, are looking grim this year. Ad-page sales are equally dour, down 7.42% across the monthlies through September, according to the Media Industry Newsletter. Newspapers, for their part, are fighting far darker demons.

But these problems don't affect the affluent market the same way as they do everyone else, said Ted D'Amico, senior VP-research, Ipsos Mendelsohn. "Readership has held its own among the affluent segment," Mr. D'Amico said. "Why is this the case? There are two factors. One, education. And they can afford magazines."

In other findings, the most popular magazines among the affluent respondents include People, National Geographic, Sports Illustrated, Time, Newsweek and Southern Living.

Only 40% of affluent consumers said they use their cellphones or mobile devices to access the internet. But that proportion rises with affluence, so that fully 57% of the segment earning more than $250,000 reported using mobile devices to get online.

Where do they shop
On the retail front, 2.4% of affluent respondents said they had shopped at a Prada store in the past year, 12.6% had shopped at Saks Fifth Avenue, 15.8% had shopped at Talbots, 45.2% shopped at Victoria's Secret, 68.2% at Macy's, 80.2% at Wal-Mart, 84.9% at Target and 85% shopped at Home Depot.

The 2008 survey, the results of which are being released today, began with a March mailing to prospective affluent "heads of house," followed by two reminder mailings to those that did not respond. Incentives of $5 or $10 were offered to encourage participation. The final response rate was 43% of the adults to whom the materials could be delivered, according to Mendelsohn.

Mendelsohn has long specialized in the affluent market, and publishers with upscale titles tend to use its research, alongside many fashion and luxury brands. This study's supporters are magazines, newspapers, cable TV networks, broadcast TV networks, ad agencies and advertisers.
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