on data from the Mendelsohn Affluent Survey and Mendelsohn Affluent
Barometer, explains why mass affluence is over, which households
are likely to achieve wealth in the next decade, and how media use
changes the wealthier one becomes.
When we asked Affluents in January 2011 how their lives had
changed in the previous decade, the top answer -- selected by 79%
-- was that they'd become "technology-infused." And it is easy to
see why. Consider that :
- Fully 98% of Affluents are online, averaging over 25 hours of
internet use a week.
- Affluents own an average of 3.5 TVs, and three-fourths have at
least one high-definition TV.
- Two-thirds have a digital video recorder, of which 58% report
always or frequently fast-forwarding through commercials.
The list of touchpoints we measure -- the potential places where
the Affluents may consume media and be exposed to advertising --
has now risen to 38.
The most dramatic changes have been seen in the adoption of
"new" media platforms. Smartphones barely qualify as "new media"
any more, having gone decidedly mainstream -- 52% of the Affluents
own them, rising to 92% if we broaden the scope to those with any
kind of wireless or cellular phone.
The newest of the new -- tablets and e-readers -- are seeing
explosive growth among the Affluents (who, of course, are not only
enthusiastic about media and technology, but also have the
discretionary income to buy such devices). Our monthly Mendelsohn
Affluent Barometer survey shows that e-reader ownership doubled
between September 2010 and April 2011 from 12% to 23%. Tablet
growth has been just as dramatic, and it is poised to continue.
Consider that 14% of Affluents now have a tablet, and an additional
15% plan to buy one in the next 12 months. Put another way, nearly
one-third of the Affluents may own tablets within the next 12
But technology, seemingly like everything else from the last
decade, is viewed by the Affluents as something of a mixed
blessing. When we asked how their lives had changed over the past
decade, "infused with technology" was the most widely cited answer.
But equally telling are the phrases coming next on the list --
"more complicated," "more stressful" and "focused on finding ways
to do more with less." In contrast, fewer than half said their
lives had become "more fun" or "easier."
At least in the short-term, expect both trends to continue --
enthusiastic adoption of new technology, and the increasing
complication of everyday life. A host of new tablets, e-readers and
other platforms are poised for introduction, surely bringing lower
prices, new capabilities, and increasingly complicated purchase
decisions. For most, a tablet or e-reader doesn't replace an
existing device, it becomes a supplement -- another device to
carry, manage, troubleshoot and potentially pay monthly charges
for. And it's another device to be accounted for in the complex
calculus of choosing a media platform for a particular task or
occasion (e.g., a smartphone for calls and texting, a tablet for
app usage, a print magazine to read on the train, a laptop for
document creation and internet use).
Expect another trend to continue: Life will continue to get more
complicated for those of us in advertising and media. We must
understand the growing adoption and use of new technology, as well
as the evolving "topography" of platforms and occasions. At each
point in this topography, we must understand consumers' level of
engagement, receptivity to advertising, preferences for apps vs.
web-based content, unmet information needs and much more. And we
must do it all in an environment in which consumers feel they are
facing more complex and stressful decisions than ever before.
Life will be getting more complicated, indeed.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Bob Shullman and Stephen
Kraus are president and chief research and insights
officer of Ipsos Mendelsohn, respectively. The Affluency column
appears monthly on AdAgeStat.