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Europe's Affluent Stay Well Connected, Well Informed

Affluents owning all three key devices more than tripled between 2011 and 2013

July 24, 2014 | Demographics | Mobile | Social Media

Digital devices are a key purchase category for many people with disposable income—and Europe’s affluents are no exception, according to Ipsos’ report, “EMS Affluent Survey,” which has been published annually for more than a decade. In 2013, the firm interviewed more than 28,000 web users across 21 countries in Western and Eastern Europe; all were screened to ensure they represented the top 13% of the population by household income.

Device Ownership Among Affluent Consumers in Europe, 2011-2013 (% of respondents)

Predictably, digital device penetration rose sharply between 2012 and 2013. While the share of respondents with a PC or laptop remained steady, at 92%, the proportion of smartphone owners climbed from 62% to 70% year over year, and tablet penetration jumped from 21% to 35% during the same timeframe. According to Ipsos, 28% of those polled in the region last year had all three devices. In 2011, just 8% were in this privileged category.

Affluents in Europe did not lead the world by this measure, however. In Latin America, 41% of affluents said they owned all three devices. Even within Europe, the study revealed some surprises. For example, 37% of affluents polled in Turkey said they had a smartphone, tablet and laptop—substantially higher than the regional average. That country also registered the highest smartphone penetration, Ipsos found, at 84% of affluent respondents. Tablet ownership was highest in the Netherlands, at 54%.

Nine in 10 of those polled said they considered it important to keep up with current affairs and other developments worldwide. As a result, an impressive 82% watched international TV channels at least monthly. International newspapers and journals were another source of perspective, though less popular. Only 27% of the sample said they read such publications.

Social Network User Penetration in Western Europe, by Country, 2012-2018 (% of population in each group)

Affluents in Europe still had time for social networking, however. Some 43% of those interviewed by Ipsos—roughly equivalent to the richest eighth of the regional population—said they visited sites such as Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter or Google+ more than once a day.

That suggests that affluent consumers may have a greater appetite for online socializing than the population at large. eMarketer estimates that just fewer than 43% of Western Europe’s residents will visit social sites once a month or more in 2014. This proportion is virtually identical to the figure reported by Ipsos, but that firm was measuring heavy usage (access multiple times per day, rather than monthly).

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