Wealthy, influential and successful couples and families living in prestigious suburbs
The wealthiest segment in the nation, American Royalty consists of mainly established couples enjoying gracious lifestyles in the fashionable suburbs of large metropolitan areas. These highly- educated adults hold senior positions in business, finance, science and technology companies. Now in their 50s and 60s, most are empty-nesting couples whose children have grown up and left for college or new jobs. A majority of residents live in million-dollar homes, typically situated on well-manicured lawns in sought-after neighborhoods.
American Royalty put in long work days, but after hours they like to soak up culture and nightlife. They support the arts, and go to the symphony, theater and dance performances at high rates. They’re also night owls who like to dine out, take in a comedy club and even check out a rock concert. These Americans like to look good while they’re out and about, and they spend a lot of time trying to keep fit. Many hold memberships in health and country clubs, where they golf, play tennis and work the cardio machines. When they wind down at home, it’s often with a newspaper, a book or an MP3 player serving up classical music or alternative rock.
American Royalty are typically the target market for expensive brands of cars, furnishings and jewelry - and for good reason. Inconspicuous consumption is a foreign concept among these Americans. Their luxury import cars are loaded with options such as GPS systems and satellite radios. Their homes are decorated with fancy housewares and appliances from chic stores. Their idea of shopping is having a personal sales clerk at a boutique or specialty store set aside a few choice designer fashions for them to consider between appointments and social gatherings.
Although only the latest consumer electronics fill their entertainment rooms - including 50-inch high-definition TVs with the latest in surround sound - these busy professionals prefer to spend their free time reading newspapers and magazines or going online. The Internet is an integral part of their lifestyle; they go online at both work and home at high rates. They use the Internet to trade stocks, book travel arrangements and visit news sites. However, unlike other segments of older, affluent consumers, they also appreciate the entertainment value of the Internet, going online to download music and video files.
It takes money to maintain this lifestyle, and American Royalty are good at both making it and managing it. They surpass all other segments in the number who invest in stocks, mutual funds and savings bonds. They’re the shoppers who carry platinum and gold credit cards. The built-up equity in their expensive homes allows them to borrow freely - and they do - with home equity loans and secured lines of credit. At their advancing ages, they also make a strong market for insurance products: life, health, property and auto.
American Royalty are proud of their success and like people to think that they’re savvy money managers. They enjoy donating to high-profile causes and kicking up their heels at fundraisers, philanthropic dinners and charity balls. Tuxedoes and gowns can always be found pressed and ready in their walk-in closets. Politically, their views are typically centrist, and many are registered Independents. However, many are community activists who acknowledge that they like to lead discussions and meet new people. The cause doesn’t particularly matter.
Chiefly in their 50s and early 60s, American Royalty are comfortably ensconced at the highest rung of America’s socioeconomic ladder. Nearly two-thirds have a graduate degree - the highest percentage in the nation - and most earn executive salaries in business, professional and technical occupations. Nearly three-quarters of households consist of childless couples, though a significant number of grown children still live at home. These upscale households include a high percentage of Asians and above-average concentrations of immigrants from Europe and South America who appreciate the gilded suburban lifestyle.
American Royalty own the priciest real estate in America. Their spacious suburban homes exceed $1 million in average value and are typically located on large lots in some of the most desired neighborhoods in the nation: communities like Beverly Hills, Calif., Chappaqua, N.Y., and Winnetka, Ill. Most of the stately homes were built many years ago, and an overwhelming number of homeowners have lived at the same residence for more than a decade, employing landscape architects and interior decorators to keep the house and gardens looking elegant. While their homes may be their castles, American Royalty also have high rates of owning and renting vacation homes.
American Royalty are suburban sophisticates who go to the theatre, subscribe to the symphony and watch foreign films. On weekends, they like to go antique shopping, but they also like to work up a sweat by hiking, biking, jogging, skiing and playing tennis. When it’s time to relax, they take up a book, pick up a garden shovel or listen to their MP3 players - rock and classical music are favorite genres.
World-class travelers, are more than twice as likely as the general population to visit Europe and the Caribbean, which are some of their favorite destinations. They are also true globe trotters and enjoy traveling to far-reaching locations in Australia, the Middle East, China and the Asian Pacific. American Royalty also travel domestically for business and pleasure, with particularly high rates to Florida and California. They usually stay in upscale hotels or their own vacation homes. However, they also have one of the highest rates for staying in cabins - that is, the ones on luxury cruise ships.
American Royalty like their purchases to make a statement. When buying a car, it’s invariably a new premium model - SUVs, sports cars and ultra-class sedans are popular - loaded with options. For apparel, they head to boutiques for designer labels. However, they patronize a wide range of retailers, including upscale department stores like Nordstrom, discount chains such as Marshall’s and T.J. Maxx and specialty stores like Williams-Sonoma and Crate and Barrel. Although they shy away from discount clubs, they buy electronics and computer equipment at big-box stores such as Best Buy. They’re more than twice as likely to purchase merchandise from preppy catalogs like L.L. Bean and Land’s End.
While American Royalty enjoy reading newspapers and magazines that cover business, fashion, home design, travel and gourmet cuisine, they exhibit only average rates for radio and TV programming, tuning mostly to news, sports and adult contemporary music on the radio and newscasts, sitcoms, documentaries and dramas on TV. Among their favorite cable channels are Bravo, CNBC, ESPN and HBO. However, their fondness for talk shows spans the political spectrum: they have high rates for watching both MSNBC and Fox News. Although they’re not very responsive to advertising, they like TV commercials that make them laugh.
American Royalty are self-assured, broadminded and independent. Politically, they’re more than twice as likely as the general population to be registered Independents. Socially, they describe themselves as adventurous leaders in their circle of friends. In the marketplace, they like to try new products before anyone else. They say their friends look to them to organize activities and advise them on purchase decisions. These are the self-possessed individuals whom others try to emulate.
American Royalty like to express their social standing through their purchases - “my car should catch people’s attention,” they say - and they look for high-quality, high-cachet brands. They also express a need for control over their lives - whether in business or at home - and they make an effort to live a healthy lifestyle. They tend to eat a well-balanced diet, exercise regularly and spend what they have to in order to look younger. However, they also have enough money left over to help others; they contribute to nearly every kind of charitable cause at above-average rates, and they’re especially strong supporters of universities and public broadcasting.
With average incomes topping $200,000, American Royalty are in their peak earning years and have more discretionary cash than any other segment. A strong financial market, they rank at the top for investing in stocks, mutual funds and saving bonds, and near the top for owning 401(k)s, IRAs and 529 College Savings Plans. At the bank, they have high rates for buying CDs and having cash management accounts. They’re also fans of high-end credit cards like Visa Platinum and American Express Platinum and Gold.
However, they are careful with their money and typically pay off their balances every month. With their lofty incomes and built-up home equity, they also make a strong market for borrowing, and a disproportionate number have mortgages, home equity loans and secured lines of credit. These baby boomers also buy a lot of insurance - whether it’s health, property or auto - and have the highest index in the nation for owning life insurance valued at more than half a million dollars. Appreciating personal contact when managing their financial affairs, a majority look to agents when buying their insurance.
American Royalty are well connected - professionally, financially, socially and especially electronically. They have high rates for using the Internet for banking, trading stocks, planning trips, reading magazines and shopping. They’re more than twice as likely as average Americans to go online at both home and work, and they increasingly do so using smartphones. This segment includes a high concentration of telecommuters who have outfitted their suburban home offices with high-tech wireless networks of webcams, laser printers, backup devices and optical scanners. Their favorite Websites - Google, CNN, Amazon, ESPN and Expedia - take them to virtual bookstores, sporting events and travel agencies. Although these middle-aged and older couples are not big on gaming, they do download podcasts, music and video files. To these consumers, the Internet is changing the way they research products and understand the world. When they want information, the Internet is now the first place they look.