Marketers to Appeal to ‘Science-Educated Elite’ to Boost Sales

Each year, the Mendelsohn Affluent Survey studies the behavior of U.S. households who have at least $100,000 in annual income. The spending patterns and opinions of these consumers allows marketers to understand which products and services might be in demand in the coming year. New information from a specially commissioned study that focuses on part of this group of consumers, Science-Educated Elites (SEEs), gives marketers a clear picture of a group that is ready to spend.

Marketers may harbor some incorrect assumptions about scientists being locked away in laboratories, more concerned about what’s happening in the Petrie dish instead of going out to shop for the latest gadgets or home furnishings. Scientific American is out to set the record straight. In looking at Mendelsohn’s data, researchers identified the SEEs as a youthful, high-earning, high-spending demographic group. When comparing this group to other professionals in the business-educated or humanities-educated sector, the SEEs enjoy a median 20% higher income.

Their spending profile is also slightly different:

  • Online – This group is extremely comfortable making financial trades via the Internet and downloading apps to smart phones.
  • Thought Leaders – When compared to other groups, SEEs are consulted 24% more frequently than other groups for their opinion on financial matters. On the topic of health, this group is consulted 40% more frequently.
  • Spending – SEEs index higher than average for spending on jewelry, travel, home furnishings, parties and cosmetic procedures

How big is this group? About 20% of affluent U.S. adults or 9.7 million people have 4‑year degrees. That figure is slightly lower for consumers with a business degree and higher for consumers who hold humanities degrees. The bottom line for marketers is that they should advertise to SEEs. Once this group buys their products and services, their word-of-mouth effect and authority has the potential to boost sales even more.

[Source: Science-Educated Elite. Nature​.com. 4 May 2011. Web. 13 May 2011]
Kathy Crosett
Kathy is the Vice President of Research for SalesFuel. She holds a Masters in Business Administration from the University of Vermont and oversees a staff of researchers, writers and content providers for SalesFuel. Previously, she was co-owner of several small businesses in the health care services sector.