Thursday, August 5, 2010

The Affluent in Indian society - Upper Middle and Rich (UMAR) survey

Mumbai, September 2, 2009: The Nielsen Company India launched its first of a kind survey, Nielsen Upper Middle and Rich (UMAR) in the city today, to provide a realistic picture of the affluent in Indian society today. Covering more than 18,250 affluent individuals across 35 Indian metros, Nielsen UMAR is the first large scale annual survey conducted in recent times to profile the hard-to-reach affluent Indian consumers, their lifestyles and media consumption habits.

The Nielsen survey covers both the mass and emerging media consumption habits of affluent Indians, including Television, Print, Radio, Cinema, and Online. It also covers lifestyle habits such as gym membership, shopping habits including frequency and spends, and consumption of various FMCG categories by affluent individuals.  

“The primary reason for conducting Nielsen UMAR was to obtain first of all a realistic estimate of this segment, and secondly, to profile their media and consumption habits. There is no study today in India which provides an accurate estimate of this target group; large scale surveys like the NRS and IRS grossly underestimate this segment as their sampling procedures are directed towards a mass audience and not specifically to this segment,” said Partha Rakshit, Managing Director, South Asia, The Nielsen Company.

The survey has initiated a new method of defining ‘affluence’, based on lifestyle and consumer durables’ ownership of a household rather than monthly income, education, etc., which are the main parameters of defining Socio Economic Class (SEC) and are inadequate to cover the consuming disposition of an individual. The variables considered for lifestyle mapping were: employment of domestic help (maid/driver); holiday trips abroad; and dining out habits. For durable ownership, the variables that were considered are Laptop/Desktop, Air-Conditioner, Car, Television, Microwave, Washing Machine, and number of family members with internet connection at home and the type of connection used.

Three distinct segments of affluence emerged by such lifestyle and consumer durables mapping – Upper Middle, Upper-Upper Middle, and Rich and they are quite distinct in their consumption habits. The grouping was done based on the ownership of a car, a computer, an LCD, and a holiday abroad.

The Nielsen survey estimates a total of 2.5 million affluent households in India, of which 2.2 million belong to the Upper Middle segment—Households that own a car and a computer, but without an LCD and a holiday abroad. Upper Upper Middle segment consists of some 0.2 million households and are the owners of a car, a computer, an LCD, but miss a holiday abroad. The Rich segment makes about 0.1 million of the households in the affluent pie, all of which are the proud owners of a car, a computer, an LCD, and also a holiday abroad. The findings of the Nielsen UMAR survey are useful to Media Planners, Publishers, Agencies, and FMCG companies among others.

Rakshit added, “The Nielsen UMAR survey followed the premise that income is usually understated by the rich and wealthy in society and to categorize the target consumers that we wanted to reach, SEC was also an inadequate classification. We needed something more tangible to identify the affluent segment.”

Top 10 affluent Indian cities ranked according to Nielsen UMAR Survey
Greater Mumbai

Decoding the affluent
So who are these affluent consumers and what do they consume? According to Nielsen, six in ten affluent households are nuclear families, and a quarter has elders at home. Nearly half of the households have more than one earning member. Even though nearly half of affluent Indian consumers are schooled in English, the languages spoken at home are regional Indian languages. Nine in ten affluent individuals own a house, three-quarters have a fully automated washing machine, and nearly two in five affluent individuals have a home theatre and modular kitchen.

English is the preferred language for Newspapers but Television is consumed more in regional languages. Nine in ten affluent individuals watch Television and nearly three-fourth read English Dailies. More than three in five watch movies outside home and more than half use Internet at home. Radio consumption is also high, especially amongst the Rich segment. Amongst the affluent who listen to the radio everyday, more than other segments - Upper Middle and Upper Upper Middle. The Rich segment also watches more movies outside home than other affluent segments. Magazine reading is not very strong amongst the affluent, and more than six in ten individuals do not read magazines. (See Chart 1)

“The Nielsen UMAR survey delves deep into the media consumption habits of the affluent class of Indian society and provides a wealth of consumption pattern information to aid marketers in preparing their marketing strategy and media plan. The demographic and lifestyle information provided in the report will help marketers’ position products and services catering to affluent Indians with high disposable incomes,” said Rakshit.

Interestingly most of people belonging to this group are heavy users of internet.The key highlight of this survey are:
1.   Half of the targeted consumers are schooled in English
2.   English is the preferred language for newspapers however the television programmes watched are more in regional languages.
3.   Nine in ten affluent individuals own a house; three-quarters have a fully automated washing machine; and nearly two in five affluent individuals have a home theatre and modular kitchen.
Media Reach:
1.   98 per cent of the individuals watch TV;
2.   70 per cent read English dailies;
3.   67 per cent watch movies outside home;
4.   55 per cent use the internet at home;
5.   54 per cent listen to the radio;
6.   while 38 per cent and 10 per cent read magazines and English business dailies, respectively.
40-50 per cent of the respondents saying that their expenditure on travel, luxury accessories, fuel, vehicle usage, branded garments and consumer durables has seen no change. However, spending on luxury accessories and vacations, compared to other items, has reduced due to recession.

Affluent Lifestyle
Nielsen UMAR affluent individuals work out at gyms, visit spas and beauty parlors, with three in ten visiting a parlor or spa once a month. Fine dining is high amongst this section of society and eight in ten individuals go out for meals. Shopping is a craze -- nine in ten shop at Modern Retail stores, the articles of interest being footwear, jewellery, handbags, sunglasses, cosmetics, fragrances, pens and watches to name a few.

Overall, the economic slowdown has not impacted the spending habits of Nielsen UMAR individuals. However luxury accessories & travel/vacations are items where Nielsen UMAR individuals have curtailed spending significantly as compared to other items... (See Chart 2)

About Nielsen UMAR Survey
Nielsen UMAR Survey gauges lifestyle and media consumption habits of affluent Indians. Affluence is defined on lifestyle and ownership of consumer durables. The survey covered more than 18,250 affluent individuals across all 35 Indian metros.

About The Nielsen Company
The Nielsen Company is a global information and media company with leading market positions in marketing and consumer information, television and other media measurement, online intelligence, mobile measurement, trade shows and business publications (Billboard, The Hollywood Reporter, Adweek). The privately held company is active in more than 100 countries, with headquarters in New York, USA. For more information, please visit,

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