Developing a Clear Picture of Affluence in India

Developing a Clear Picture of Affluence in India

India’s economy has come a long way over the last few decades, and that growth has brought with it a large – and expanding – affluent segment of society.  To get a realistic snapshot of this demographic, The Nielsen Company India has released the most comprehensive analysis of this group with the Nielsen Upper Middle and Rich (UMAR) Survey.

“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,” said Partha Rakshit, Managing Director, South Asia at The Nielsen Company.

Nielsen’s survey of more than 18,250 affluent individuals across 35 Indian metro areas, initiated a new method of defining affluence. The study was based on a household’s lifestyle and ownership of consumer durables as opposed to monthly income or education.  Variables used included the employment of domestic help such as a maid or driver, holiday trips abroad, dining out habits, ownership of home computers, cars, air conditioners and type of home Internet connections.

Based on this study, Nielsen estimates a total of 2.5 million affluent households in India, of which 2.2 million belong to the “upper middle” segment; 200,000 in the “upper upper middle” segment and about 100,000 in the “rich” segment.  Delhi ranked as the most affluent city in the country, followed by Bangalore and Greater Mumbai.

Sixty percent of affluent households are nuclear families, and nearly a quarter have elders living at home.  Ninety percent own their homes, 75 percent have automatic washing machines and nearly 40 percent have a home theater and modular kitchen.

The affluents are energetic consumers of media.  At home, they will speak in regional Indian languages, but they prefer their newspapers to be in English (nearly 75%).  They like to watch TV in Hindi.  Sixty percent go to movies outside of the home, and more than half use the Internet at home.  Surprisingly, they are not that keen on reading magazines: more than 60 percent said they did not read magazines.

“Our 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 strategy and media plan,” said Rakshit.


Overall, the study found that the economic slowdown has not had a major impact on the spending habits of affluent individuals. However luxury accessories along with travel/vacations were areas where spending was curtailed significantly in comparison. [see graphic]