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The Influence of Affluence
Cover of The Influence of Affluence
The Influence of Affluence
How the New Rich Are Changing America
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A compelling look at a new class of the affluent - the middle-class millionaires – whose attitudes and values are influencing and reshaping American life

In this groundbreaking book, Russ Alan Prince and Lewis Schiff examine the far-reaching impact of the middle class millionaires–people who enjoy a net worth ranging from one million to ten million dollars and have earned rather than inherited their wealth. Comprising 8.4 million households and growing in number, the attitudes and behaviors of these working rich are exerting a powerful influence over our society. So who are these people? They believe in the benefits of hard work. They believe in investing in themselves, and in self improvement. They are more likely to focus on drawing financial gain from their work, and less inclined to be discouraged by failure. And they don’t spend money on the extravagances indulged in by the very rich; instead, they wield their affluence according to middle-class values and ideals. From home security systems to health care, technology to travel, their spending choices are affecting us all – from the products we buy, to the communities in which we live, to the aspirations and values of the broader middle class and American population as a whole.


In the bestselling tradition of Bobos in Paradise and The Millionaire Next Door, THE MIDDLE-CLASS MILLIONAIRE is a captivating narrative – part sociology, and part aspirational journey into the lives, attitudes, and values of the middle-class millionaires. Based on extensive surveys and research into more than 3,600 middle-class millionaire households around the country, this book will reshape our understanding of what it takes to be successful – and how all of us can achieve similar success.
A compelling look at a new class of the affluent - the middle-class millionaires – whose attitudes and values are influencing and reshaping American life

In this groundbreaking book, Russ Alan Prince and Lewis Schiff examine the far-reaching impact of the middle class millionaires–people who enjoy a net worth ranging from one million to ten million dollars and have earned rather than inherited their wealth. Comprising 8.4 million households and growing in number, the attitudes and behaviors of these working rich are exerting a powerful influence over our society. So who are these people? They believe in the benefits of hard work. They believe in investing in themselves, and in self improvement. They are more likely to focus on drawing financial gain from their work, and less inclined to be discouraged by failure. And they don’t spend money on the extravagances indulged in by the very rich; instead, they wield their affluence according to middle-class values and ideals. From home security systems to health care, technology to travel, their spending choices are affecting us all – from the products we buy, to the communities in which we live, to the aspirations and values of the broader middle class and American population as a whole.


In the bestselling tradition of Bobos in Paradise and The Millionaire Next Door, THE MIDDLE-CLASS MILLIONAIRE is a captivating narrative – part sociology, and part aspirational journey into the lives, attitudes, and values of the middle-class millionaires. Based on extensive surveys and research into more than 3,600 middle-class millionaire households around the country, this book will reshape our understanding of what it takes to be successful – and how all of us can achieve similar success.
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  • Chapter ONE CHAPTER ONE
    THE INFLUENCE OF AFFLUENCE


    In 2004, the sales department at Elite Traveler magazine asked Russ Alan Prince to conduct a marketing survey of its readership. Elite Traveler is likely the most exclusive consumer magazine in the world. The magazine is distributed primarily on private jets, and it covers subjects such as how to book your own private island. Its reader demographics, with an average household income in the seven figures, eclipse those of its nearest competitor by more than sixfold. Russ’s job, in part, was to measure how much influence the buying habits of these very affluent readers exert on others around them.

    In the field of luxury marketing, purchasing decisions of high-networth individuals are assumed to exert a “downline influence” on people of the same or lesser means. Elite Traveler wanted to know if Russ could document a similar relationship between the purchasing decisions of the people who read Elite Traveler and other people who associate with them.

    Russ has been studying the spending and investing habits of high-net-worth individuals for more than twenty years. He knew that carrying out a methodologically sound survey of very wealthy individuals would be a difficult and time-consuming task. To find 203 respondents willing to answer a long series of personal questions posed by a researcher in personal interviews, Prince had to network his way through lists of financial advisors and private jet services who served as go-betweens. Most of the survey subjects either accepted a $500 payment for their cooperation or directed that sum to one of their pet charities.

    The survey results provided Elite Traveler with an unwelcome surprise. According to the survey, the buying decisions of very-high-networth individuals–those with wealth in excess of $10 million–exert very little influence on the people around them. Except for certain celebrities, wealthy people who are influential by almost every other measure don’t serve as role models when they purchase goods and services. They are not “referentially influential.” If they buy something for their home or office, they tend not to talk about it very much. In the case of more easily observable purchases, such as clothes, watches, and jewelry, they seldom interact with enough people on a day-to-day basis to exert any significant influence. And when it comes to providers of personal services–life coaches, personal trainers, financial advisors–the very rich can be very secretive. Express too much praise for your coach or trainer, after all, and he or she might get poached by someone else.

    Russ had managed to measure in a meaningful way, perhaps for the first time, the profound insularity of the very wealthy. They don’t have a very big impact on the rest of us. This conclusion was not terribly helpful to Elite Traveler, but Russ found himself intrigued by one small set of details buried in the data. The sample was too small for him to draw any concrete conclusions, but it seemed to him that a handful of the least affluent in this particular sample group reported behavior patterns that set them apart from the rest. They enjoyed making their opinions known, and they actively solicited opinions from others. They talked with a lot of people each day. Here was a subset of the multimillionaire cohort who didn’t act like multimillionaires.

    In a subsequent readership survey done for The New Yorker and Registered Rep magazines, Russ’s researchers interviewed 1,417 people who declared a net worth between $1 million and $10 million,...

About the Author-
  • RUSS ALAN PRINCE is president of the market research and consulting firm Prince & Associates, Inc. (russalanprince.com) and a founder of Private Wealth magazine. He is a columnist for Elite Traveler and the author or coauthor of more than forty professional development books. He lives in Redding, Connecticut.

    LEWIS SCHIFF leads a team of private wealth experts specializing in the needs of high-net-worth clients for Advanced Planning Group (advancedplanning.org). He is a regular contributor to TheStreet.com, a columnist for Investment Advisor magazine and the author of The Armchair Millionaire (2001). Schiff lives in New York City.
Reviews-
  • Publisher's Weekly

    October 29, 2007
    Sandwiched between the rich and the middle class are 8.4 million American households with a net worth between $1 million and $10 million. Prince and Schiff present intriguing statistical nuggets from their survey of 586 “middle-class millionaire” households. Although these people may be rich by most definitions, many were raised middle class, earned rather than inherited their wealth and still retain middle-class values. Comparing the responses of middle-class millionaires to middle-class households with less than $1 million net worth, Prince and Schiff determine that middle-class millionaires work harder, suffer more setbacks, choose homes for quality schools rather than convenience to work or shopping and have larger social networks. Unfortunately, these statistics are difficult to interpret without information about differences in age, family size, income, career and location. The book offers something for those who yearn to join the middle-class millionaires or move up among their ranks, especially entrepreneurs with business plans for this population, who are heavily profiled in these pages. Despite the breezy writing style, readers looking for a rigorous economic analysis will be disappointed.

  • Booklist

    December 1, 2007
    Prince and Schiff, wealth experts, describe ?middle-class millionaires,? the 8.4 million American households with annual income of $50,000 to $80,000 and a net worth under $1,000,000. Earning their money rather than inheriting it, this group of working rich is open and talkative about their success and consumer choices, unlike the superrich, who are generally secretive. Driven by common middle-class values, such as family, safety, health, and self-improvement, the authors believe these well-informed millionaires will greatly influence and transform American society. OnStar, the automotive tracking and communications system, owes its tremendous growth to this group, as do life coaches who are routinely hired to develop career and communication skills. The discipline necessary to accumulate wealth is found in middle-class millionaires, who make financial achievement and recognition the focus of their business life. Most believe that anyone can become a millionaire if they work hard enough and that, in fact, money can buy happiness. Excellent perspective on an important consumer market.(Reprinted with permission of Booklist, copyright 2007, American Library Association.)

  • The San Francisco Chronicle "Most non-fiction books consist of slightly incremental new takes on the same old reality. Occasionally, though, a book emerges that establishes a new reality. That strikes me as the case with "The Middle-Class Millionaire."
  • Jim Cramer, CNBC's Mad Money and Co-Founder, TheStreet.com "The Middle-Class Millionaire opened my eyes to a new force driving the American economy. Russ Prince and Lewis Schiff show us exactly what you need to look for to make the most of this enormous opportunity, whether you are just getting started on the path to being a millionaire or there already!"
  • Newsweek "Impressively thorough."
  • Tom Bradley, President, TD AMERITRADE Institutional. "Russ Prince's and Lewis Schiff's insightful book can help you understand and capitalize on significant business opportunities within the emerging affluent middle class."
  • Consuelo Mack, Anchor & Managing Editor, Consuelo Mack WealthTrack "Prince and Schiff have identified a new breed of millionaire who is transforming the American lifestyle. Read how to join this elite club and follow them to the American dream."
  • Grant Skeens, President, KeyBank Recreation & Luxury Yacht Lending "A must read for anyone seeking to understand the emerging affluent market. The authors' extensive research identifies key characteristics of today's 'working rich' and provides insights as to how to successfully reach this lucrative segment."
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How the New Rich Are Changing America
Russ Alan Prince
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