Those and other popular misconceptions are shattered by a new survey on wealth in the U.S. by Roper Starch Worldwide. The survey of 1,003 adults commissioned by Town & Country found the average wealthy individual-defined as household income of $100,000 or more-earned, not inherited, 83% of his or her net worth.
These are clearly not the idle rich. Nearly everyone polled (98%) ranked hard work as the No. 1 reason for financial success and 55% had working spouses.
Nor do all the rich fit one psychographic mold. The rich have many faces, four to be exact.
The survey groups wealthy consumers, who represent 4.8% of all U.S. households and control 53% of all U.S. discretionary income ($220 billion), into:
Adventurous-predominantly male (58%) and most likely of the groups to be single (28%), this group is also the youngest and is most concerned with luxury products. It's also most likely to experiment with new, trendy products and the latest fashions, and most influenced by clear, intelligent advertising.
Stylish-includes the highest percentage of women (53%) and the lowest of those employed full time (56%). Intensely brand loyal, they feel value is more important than price. Stylish consumers are more likely to pursue the tangible benefits of wealth, like traveling abroad and expensive jewelry.
Utilitarians-best educated, predominantly male (59%) and most likely to be employed full time (69%) in high-level executive and professional posts. They have the highest median monthly disposable income ($1,674) but are distinguished by markedly low levels of interest in luxury products. Price is more important than value.
Conservative consumers-an equal number of men and women, and the most likely to be self-employed (36%), they share stylish consumers' concern with quality but not their bent for luxury. They're inconspicuous consumers who are prime candidates for direct mail and all catalog sales.
The telephone survey had a margin of error of plus or minus 2 points.