Media Consumption Trends Amongst the Affluent

Media_Consumption_Trends_Amongst_the_AffluentIpsos Mendelsohn has been surveying the affluent of America, defined as those individuals earning over $100,000 per annum, for 35 years. But their 2011 survey revealed what must be one of their most remarkable findings to date - the time US affluents spend on the internet has risen by about 20% (to more than 30 hours in a typical week) in one year alone.What can be behind such a sharp annual rise?  Digging deeper into the research uncovers the answer – the rapid growth in the ownership of mobile web-enabled devices.According to the survey, Smartphone ownership has grown by almost 1/3 to 43% since 2010, ereader ownership has almost tripled to 14% and tablet ownership has more than quadrupled to 9%.These figures not only demonstrate adoption of these devices is accelerating but that the affluent are much more likely to be consuming content on mobile devices than the mass of the population.  This is true of the UK too, where Ofcom found ABC1s were almost 20% more likely to own a smartphone than the population as a whole.Where is all this additional online time being spent?  Well, in the US at least, it’s being used to spend more time in online destinations that are already popular, like Facebook, Amazon and YouTube.With an additional 5 hours being spent on the internet each week, it would stand to reason that something’s going to have to give – there are only so many hours in the day – but Ipsos Mendelsohn found that traditional media consumption was proving exceptionally resilient amongst US affluents.The survey found that print use remained essentially unchanged between 2010 and 2011 - 82% of those surveyed read at least one print publication, with the average affluent reading 6 titles. Television showed a similar pattern of near universal (98% had watched in the past 7 days) and relatively stable consumption.It would appear the US affluents appetite for media and entertainment is almost insatiable.  So how are they cramming it all in?  The answer can only be more ‘media multitasking’ – consuming more than one media at the same time.And it’s not just on the other side of the Pond that this phenomena is being observed. In a detailed survey of media consumption habits in 2010, Ofcom found that the average consumer was finding time to cram in almost 9 hours of media consumption into 7 hours of actual time. If the US trends are reflected in the UK, and it can be argued that smartphones are having an even greater impact in the UK than they are in the US, then this media cramming can only be increasing with affluence.So how should premium and luxury brands react to these findings?Well first, traditional media plans shouldn’t be torn up. Affluent consumers still seem to be finding time to consumer print and TV in their increasingly busy media day.But consumers of luxury are also most likely to consume media on mobile devices such as smartphones and ipads, so if brands want to maintain their share of voice in consumer’s media ‘days’, they’re going to need to diversify their offering across these new platforms.In an ideal world, luxury marketers would be able to increase their media budgets in line with their target market’s increased media consumption. But we don’t live in an ideal world.Instead, luxury marketers are going to need to understand how these media can complement each other so they can leverage this trend to their advantage in a selective and targeted manner. In particular, understanding how their traditional media activity can be integrated with mobile content – for example, via the use of QR codes and mobile websites to allow affluents to further explore offerings presented to them via traditional media – would seem to be a paramount concern.As affluents strive to cram ever more information consumption into days which are already overflowing with activity, their tolerance of luxury brands that fail to offer a joined up experience across media channels is going to dwindle.  Clearly, luxury brands will need to incorporate mobile into their activity in a ‘joined up’ manner going forward in order to continue to thrive.

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