a man working on a laptop

Businessman and former Mexican president Vincente Fox at work on a laptop. Photo credit: Presidential photos via Wikimedia Commons

Let’s say your company makes a product or provides a service that’s a bit more suited for the 1% than the 99%. Wealth management perhaps. Or a luxury spa getaway. How do you find your customers?

The Internet is a good place to start, and if you’re looking to target big spenders, the market researchers at Nielsen have some suggestions. It’s the subject of their report, published in February, “Finding Opportunity Online With The Mass Affluent.”

So who are the mass affluent? Focusing on the United States, Nielsen defines the mass affluent as households with $250,000 to $1 million in spending money. (Or liquid, income producing assets, more precisely.) They are not the upper crust; but instead a larger group that is wealthy but not absurdly so. According to Nielsen, the mass affluent account for 12% of American households, while 6% of households have relevant assets worth over $1 million.  

Those singled out as part of the mass affluent are not necessarily households with high incomes. A corporate lawyer with a $100,000 salary is in a high income bracket. But if she just finished paying off student loans and is shuttling savings into college funds, she’s not necessarily the best target for premium products. Wealth matters more than income. Nielsen identifies the prototypical mass affluent individual as a suburban empty nester, most likely caucasian. Two thirds of the mass affluent are over age 55, so many are retired. The rest tend to work in finance and management or own their own business.

The online behavior of the mass affluent meets expectations but also surprises. One of the most common online activities of the wealthy is monitoring stocks and following financial news. Yet more than any other activity, they spend disproportionately more time on sports websites than the average consumer. Nielsen singles out ussoccer.com; apparently if you want to advertise to big spenders, the U.S. soccer website is your best bet. Unfortunately Gatorade seems to have monopolized the ad space. 

The mass affluent also spend a lot of time online doing work-related research, following the news (especially politics), and visiting home, food, and travel websites. Essentially they are libertine, political news junkies.

This wealthy demographic is more likely than the average consumer to use Apple products. Except the retired folks, who typically have a single computer and connect with AOL. Once retired, the mass affluent also seem to replace the time once spent online doing business research with gambling, trivia, card games, and looking at high school and college alumni information.

Being rich doesn’t seem to stop the retired part of this demographic from following senior citizen stereotypes. As you might expect, they spend 33% more time than the average American looking up health information online. They also spend almost 20% more time looking for coupons. If Seinfeld were still on the air, you can almost imagine George complaining that his parents keep asking for help Googling coupon codes. 

This post was written by Alex Mayyasi. Follow him on Twitter here or Google PlusTo get occasional notifications when we write blog posts, sign up for our email list.