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Mobile is key for reaching affluent family market: Ipsos Mendelsohn

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September 29, 2011

Affluent family, credit: Four Seasons

Affluent family, credit: Four Seasons

Affluent consumers with children under 18  are a growing slice of the luxury market and mobile is proving the best way for marketers to connect with this segment of the upscale demographic, according to key findings from Ipsos Mendelsohn.

Wealthy parents are more pressed for time than the average luxury consumer, and mobile phones and tablets are becoming the saving grace for affluent families. As roles change and kids affect the purchasing of luxury goods and services more than ever, the affluent family has emerged as a key market for brands looking to see a high ROI.

“We found that family is the center of it all, and that a number of themes emerged,” said Donna Sabino, senior vice president of kids and family insights with Ipsos OTX, New York.

“The ideas of time, transformation and trade-offs are huge when dealing with the affluent family,” she said. “You can see the effect of having a kid.

“They pull you into the technology and people who do not have these little ambassadors of the future do not get pulled into new technology so quickly.”

Ipsos Mendelsohn conducts representative interviews with adults who have more than $100,000 in annual household income, which collectively represents 58.5 million adults in the United States.

Ticking clock
The affluent family is a powerful economic group due to their tendency to buy in mass (see story).

To tap this growing group of luxury consumers, marketers need to reach the kids and then connect with their constantly on-the-go, affluent parents.

“We look at the affluent family as a marketing triple-play,” she said. “They don’t just buy one cell phone, they buy four or five.

“They don’t buy just one movie ticket, they buy five or six,” she said.

The key to reaching the affluent parent is through mobile and social networking, based on findings from Ipsos Mendelsohn.

Children are constantly pulling their parents into the latest technology.

“Affluent consumers with children are more likely to maintain a social networking site, download apps and have more contacts [in their cell phones] because of their kids,” Ms. Sabino said.

“Time is a precious commodity for these people,” she said. “They have a lot on their plate and want to get it all done.”

The constant feeling of not having enough time has forced affluent families to adapt to mobile devices more quickly than affluent consumers without kids.

In addition, many affluent parents are nudged into buying tablets with the feeling that they will be educational tools for their children, as well as help the adults.

For example, 16 percent of affluent families with children under 18 own a tablet, compared to only 12 percent of affluent adults without children.

Mobile applications facilitate families on-the-go and the No. 1 download for kids is games, per Ms. Sabino.

Indeed, 62 percent of affluent families reported downloading apps, particularly for games, music, weather and GPS.

In addition, 59 percent of affluent families said that social networks help their extended families stay in touch. Half of affluent adults with children reported spending more than 20 hours per week on social networking sites.

Affluent parents are now using Facebook to connect with peers and community members because it saves money and time, according to Ms. Sabino.

Anything that saves a parent time, such as an app that lets them do banking online or buy movie tickets on their smartphone, gives that individual more time with their children, which is the main priority for affluent families.

Ms. Sabino presenting the Affluent Family findings

Ms. Sabino presenting the Affluent Family findings

Family values
However, reaching affluent adults with children is not the only obstacle. Marketers need to understand the shifting dynamics of the wealthy family, per Ipsos Mendelsohn.

For example, affluent families are more likely to go to the movies or domestic vacations than those without kids.

“Anyone that has kids knows that kids reprioritize your world,” Ms. Sabino said. “For people who have kids, 73 percent agree that kids are the top priority in their life.”

A majority of those in the study reported that family takes precedence over taking care of themselves in terms of going to the doctor or exercising.

Combining these findings with shifts in parenting styles, Ipsos Mendelsohn found that kids are more influential in the decision-making process than ever.

Ms. Sabino presenting the findings relating to kids’ influence on purchases

This is attributed to parents wanting to ask for a child’s input to make her feel important and think critically, but also because children are a resource for parents.

“Today’s children are the most informed, empowered and connected generation that we have ever seen,” Ms. Sabino said.

“They are exposed to more information than any generation before them and, not only can they access it, they can process it,” she said.

Therefore, children are becoming the go-to resource in a family, particularly for new technology.

Indeed, they are exposing their parents to the world of tablets and apps. In turn, parents recognize the value of these new technologies.

In addition, the needs of children are constantly changing as they grow, forcing parents to continuously acquire new products.

“Kids are constantly changing and parents are constantly changing with them,” Ms. Sabino said. “They are in a constant state of acquisition and change.

“Now, it feels like, how could we have not noticed this [market] before?” she said.

Final Take
Kayla Hutzler, editorial assistant on Luxury Daily, New York

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Kayla Hutzler is an editorial assistant on Luxury Daily. Her beats are automotive, consumer electronics, consumer packaged goods, financial services, media/publishing, software and technology, telecommunications, travel and hospitality, real estate, retail and sports. Reach her at kayla@napean.com.

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