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What Does It Mean to Be Mass Affluent?


Households are often divided by consumption and wealth levels so marketers and businesses can better understand their spending habits. Certain segments exhibit specific behaviors that, when identified, allow businesses to serve their needs in a more personalized manner.

According to Pew Research, middle class income has grown by 49% over the past 40 years. In contrast, upper-income households saw their median income nearly double over the same period. Income inequality has grown at a greater rate in the U.S. than in any other country even as consumption habits for each class segment has shifted.

Mass affluent households are highly sought after by businesses despite their shrinking number. Here we dig into the details and explore exactly why that is and what it means if you’re one of them.

A financial advisor could help you best determine if you are on track to meet your long-term financial goals. Find a qualified advisor today.

Mass Affluent Definition

Mass affluent is a term that describes a middle-class household earning an annual income of more than $75,000 and holding between $100,000 and $1 million in investable assets. As middle-class earners, the mass affluent are usually employed in white-collar jobs and have substantial savings. These include people coined globetrotters, power couples, civic activists and suburbanites who invest heavily in their retirement funds.

The mass affluent, as part of the shrinking middle class, nonetheless form a highly-sought-after group. In 2017, the mass affluent comprised 30.7 million households in the U.S., holding $10.2 trillion in assets. They appeal to marketers and business professionals because they act as a bridge group between the mass middle class and the affluent, or high-net-worth group.

What Characteristics Do the Mass Affluent Have?

mass affluentThe mass affluent are a marketing sweet spot between the middle class and upper class. Like the mass middle class, they make a large, accessible audience for businesses, but since they typically earn six-figure salaries, working in business, finance or management, they hold an above-average amount of funds.

While the average mass affluent is a 59-year-old Caucasian, Asian Americans are 36% more likely to be mass affluent than not. In fact, mass affluents are expected to form the next megamarket in Southeast Asia by 2030.

This group of consumers is marked by their consumption habits, fueled by higher-than-average incomes. They are more likely to spend on premium goods and services and account for up to half of consumer spending on leisure travel, watches, jewelry, as well as cars.

How Does Mass Affluent Differ From High-Net-Worth?

Because the mass affluent hold less than $1 million in liquid assets, they are often underserved by the financial community. 80% of high-net-worth and mega millionaires work with financial advisors to plan and manage their finances, but only 60% of the mass affluent do so.

The goals for their finances change from one group to another. The mass affluent are likely working in corporate jobs, but more than two-thirds of high-net-worth individuals are retired. The majority of a mass affluent’s net worth derives from a principal residence, whereas high-net-worth individuals have between half and two-thirds of their wealth held in investable securities. The mass affluent are notably more conservative in risk-taking as well.

As a result, financially speaking, the mass affluents’ goals center more on wealth-building than those in the high-net-worth category. They need help with retirement savings planning, principal protection and growth strategies, in addition to tax planning. Some opportunities to take advantage at this level include: maximizing IRA contributions, investing in annuities and buying term or whole life insurance.

On the other hand, high-net-worth groups will focus more on formal income planning, asset preservation, tax and gift planning and estate and trust plans.

The Bottom Line

mass affluentMass affluent is a term used to describe higher-net-worth, middle-class earners. People in this wealth group live a comfortable lifestyle and consume premium goods. Since they focus more on building wealth than preserving it, they are a prime target for businesses and marketers.

Tips for Building Wealth

  • Not sure what investments and strategies will help you meet your long-term goals? For a solid financial plan, consider speaking with a qualified financial advisor. SmartAsset’s free tool matches you with up to three financial advisors who serve your area, and you can interview your advisor matches at no cost to decide which one is right for you. If you’re ready to find an advisor who can help you achieve your financial goals, get started now.
  • Use SmartAsset’s free investment calculator to get a good estimate of how to grow your money over time.

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