Affluent Americans are still reading print

Media commentators speak out of both sides of their mouths these days. They say print is dying (which is true), while remarking on how well the print industry is doing (which is also true). Both statements are partially true, anyway, and the real truth depends on which demographics and what kinds of media one is talking about.

AdAge has been tracking media usage by way of the Mendelsohn Affluent Barometer, a survey of wealthy Americans (in this case, those making above $100,000 a year in household income) conducted by market research company Ipsos. It turns out that wealthier Americans use mostly traditional media: newspapers, magazines, and TV.


The obvious first reaction is to say that most affluent Americans are likely to be older, more advanced in their careers and therefore earning more money. And these same older Americans are less likely to grab the latest app for an Android instead of picking up the newspaper off the porch. However, when AdAge examined media consumption among young affluents (ages 18-34), the numbers weren’t all that different:


So what gives? Why would wealthy people—young or old—cling so strongly to traditional media? I can picture a young lawyer being the subject of some ribbing from the senior partners at a stuffy law firm as he checks stock quotes on his iPhone or a 30-something banker feeling like she needs the print copy of the Wall Street Journal under her arm in the morning to feel dressed. And maybe that’s the kind of thing that’s going on—young affluents model themselves after old affluents and are less likely to be found reading Slate on their tablet at the local coffeehouse.

Without some comparison data of young and old “less-than-affluents,” it’s really hard to say. But what we can take from this data is that the death of traditional media hasn’t happened just yet, at least not among the wealthy.

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