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America’s business elite – high-powered, highly influential senior executives, CEOs and other C-suite officers from midsize and large companies – have a ferocious appetite for quality business information, according to a new survey carried out by Ipsos Media.

Top business leaders are also media-savvy, acquiring the information that they need from a variety of media sources, including magazines and journals, the internet, and digital and satellite television, according to Ipsos Media’s business-elite survey.

America’s 630,000 senior business executives represent over 72,000 companies, the survey found. This group is responsible for over $1.7 trillion in annual expenditures – a figure greater than the gross domestic product of Italy, or that of Russia and Australia combined – and employ/oversee some 144 million people, approximately two-thirds of the US workforce – or half the nation’s adult population.

The survey also examines the typical business leader’s way of life:

  • They travel frequently, spend more nights in hotels, and are heavy users of technology as part of their work life.
  • They also enjoy the perks of their positions in their personal lives, valuing personal luxuries, the latest technical gadgets, and a high quality of life with their family and friends.
  • Compared with their European and Asian counterparts, American executives have a greater taste for personal material luxuries and claim a significantly higher net worth.

America’s business elite constitutes a formidable economic force:

  • On average, the individual annual income is approximately $408,000.
  • As a group, they garner a total combined annual income of $246 billion.
  • Their combined personal net worth is valued at over $1 trillion.

America’s business elite have a healthy appetite for information and media, in particular when the information helps them make better and more informed business decisions:

  • The internet is becoming a major source of information, with over two-thirds spending more time reading business information on the web than in the past.
  • Although executives view the internet as being a particularly good source for business news updates, only 7% are willing to pay for online business news.
  • Websites also prove to be important for improving a business publication’s overall offering, even more so than websites for TV channels:
    • Over three-quarters way a website is an important part of a business publication’s overall offering.
    • Only one-third say a website is an important part of a TV channel’s overall offering.

Other top-level findings related to media:

  • Nine in ten have read the last issue of a print medium.
  • Seven in ten have watched a Network TV channel in the previous day.
  • Six in ten have watched a Cable TV channel in the previous day.
  • Just over half went online in the previous day.
  • Seven in ten have received a daily email alert or newsletter in the last month.
  • Nearly half have streamed or watched a broadband video from computer in the last month.
  • One-third have read a blog in the last month, but only 5% have actually written a post.
  • Nearly a quarter have downloaded a podcast in the last month.

Portrait of the American Executive:

The survey shows the average American business leader is male, age 51, earns $408,000 per year, and has a personal net worth of $1.7 million. His key attitude toward business is one of sound management with a willingness to take calculated risks based on good, trustworthy information. Some key findings:

  • Nine out of ten say they like to keep up with the news.
  • Eight out of ten say they are not afraid to take business risks.
  • Seven out of ten agree that return on investment is a key factor in their business decisions.
  • Eight in ten claim their most senior managers play a major role in business purchasing decisions.
  • Nine in ten will do business only with companies with a favorable brand image, with five out of ten claiming those brands need to be well known.
  • Nine out of ten also say they are prepared to pay more for quality.
  • Eight out of ten claim to have good relationships with suppliers but are cautious when engaging in a relationship with a new supplier.

About the study: This is the second year for the business elite survey in the United States, a syndicated annual survey conducted by Ipsos Media with the top business leaders in the country. The survey has been conducted in Europe since 1973, and will be conducted on an annual basis in Europe, the USA, Asia, Japan, Australia, South America, and the Middle East.

Data for this study were collected by survey questionnaires dispatched by mail and available online beginning February 8, 2007, with returns accepted until July 27, 2007. A total of 2,390 responses were collected. This sample size can be used project the attitudes, behaviors, and consumption patterns of the survey universe, which comprises heads of function at midsize and large business and commercial establishments, defined as having 250 or more employees throughout the US. Some smaller companies, with 150-249 employees, were also included, providing that they met minimum turnover criteria, provisionally in excess of $40 million. The survey also includes national and regional head offices of banks with assets of $500 million or more and insurance companies with 150 or more employees.

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