Some interesting data:
According to comScore’s “State of the US Online Retail Economy in Q2 2010″ from August 2010, 37% of total US online spending is done by households making at least $100,000 (upper middle class and wealthier, by their definition).
Since only 10% of US households have incomes greater than $100,000, their representation of over 1/3 of dollars spent online is striking.
Although there could be cultural reasons, I suspect the primary causes of this skewing towards a wealthier online consumer are:
1) Access – wealthier households probably have disproportionate access to computers, broadband and credit cards.
2) Discretionary income – wealthier households probably have a higher proportion of their income left over after purchasing necessities that are mostly found offline (rent, groceries, cars, gas, utilities, etc.)
Two practical conclusions to draw:
1) Your online customers are probably more affluent than your in-store customers.
2) Online communication will reach a denser population of affluent customers.