Gen X Now Reportedly The Largest Generation of Affluents

Ipsos-American-Affluents-by-Generation-Sept2015Among affluents, Gen Xers (34-50) now outnumber Baby Boomers (51-69) for the first time, with the former accounting for 37% of all affluents and the latter 32%, according to Ipsos’ latest annual survey of affluents in the US. The results are essentially switched from last year, leading Ipsos to declare this “a changing of the generational guard.” Even so, Boomers continue to lead on one important front.

Indeed, Boomer respondents reported a median household net worth of $913K, almost twice the figure reported by Gen Xers ($552K). Millennials (18-33), who comprise one-quarter of affluents, reported a median net worth of $516K, not far behind Gen Xers; Seniors (70+), the smallest group (5% share) of affluents, reported the highest median net worth, of $1.42 million.

(For more on the valuable Baby Boomer generation, see the MarketingCharts report, Advertising to Baby Boomers: The Why and How.)

The Ipsos survey notes that affluent Gen Xers are far from being a monolithic group, a point that is often mentioned about Millennials, but less so with respect to Gen Xers. Younger Gen Xers (under 40), for example, tend to have similar tastes to Millennials in various areas (such as social media, entertainment trends and organic food), while older Gen Xers share more psychographic traits with Boomers.

That’s interesting in light of other research on Gen Xers. Recently, the Pew Research Center revealed that 58% of Gen Xers identify with their generational label, compared to 78% of Boomers. An earlier study from MetLife, meanwhile, found that just 41% of Gen Xers related most to their own generation, while 28% related most to Baby Boomers. When it comes to the various traits they ascribe to their generation, the Pew survey discovered that Gen Xers are roughly in the middle of Millennials and Baby Boomers (perhaps a function of using averages). The Ipsos survey, for its part, shows that while 54% of Gen Xers aged 34-41 agree that they “like to stand out from others,” only 41% of those aged 42-50 agree.

Overall, the Ipsos study reveals that 23% of American households (and 28% of American adults) qualify as being affluent, on par with last year’s results. Among the $2.7 trillion in annual consumer spending by affluents (which represents an uptick from last year), the largest expenditure categories are:

  • Automotive;
  • Home and garden;
  • Personal insurance;
  • Travel;
  • Education; and
  • Electronics.

Those results signify a greater spending role for travel and electronics than in last year’s survey.

Not surprisingly, affluents tend to live in urban areas, with 44% living in 10 major cities. The top 5 cities by share of affluents are:

  • New York City (10% of affluents);
  • Los Angeles (7%);
  • Chicago (5%);
  • San Francisco (4%); and
  • Washington, DC (4%).

Affluents living in these cities tend to exhibit different characteristics, with those in New York City showing an above-average inclination to value their cultural or ethnic heritage and to have an interest in fashion and luxury. Affluents in San Francisco skew heavily Asian-American (29% of San Francisco affluents versus 8% nationally) and tend to be more liberal, with interests in hybrid vehicles and organic food. By comparison, affluents in Los Angeles have stronger interests in automobiles, luxury, fashion and entertainment. (One wonders if these differences in interests are restricted to affluents, or are city-wide…)

In other highlights from the report, affluent Millennials spend 10.4 hours a week with social media, almost twice the affluent average of 5.5 hours per week. Although Facebook and YouTube are the top social platforms for affluents overall and Millennials in particular, the youngest group is more heavily drawn to Instagram (54% using) and Snapchat (35%) than the affluent population as a whole (29% and 13%, respectively), with this likely a reflection of the traditionally younger audience of these platforms.

In other media-related data:

  • More than 4 in 5 affluents read print magazines and almost half read national newspapers (with these skewing heavily towards an affluent audience, per a MarketingCharts report); and
  • Almost all (98%) affluents report having watched TV in the past 7 days and close to 9 in 10 listened to radio (including 73% listening to over-the-air radio);

For more on US affluents and media, see MarketingCharts’ report, Media Habits of the Affluent.

About the Data: The 2015 Ipsos Affluent Survey USA was conducted from January through June 2015, and has a sample size of 15,267 adults living in households with at least $100,000 in annual household income. The survey uses rigorous methodologies to ensure the results are projectable to the population of America’s 68.5 million Affluents.