Secrets of the wealthy

emma is a rich source of information on consumer attitudes and behaviours for the finance category, providing insights down to specific products. Rob Pyne explains.

What separates wealthy Australians from the not-so-wealthy? Data in emma views captures the wealth of Australians in several ways…


  • Personal income
  • Household income
  • Behaviours of big-, medium- or low-spenders; and
  • Value of investment assets

For this article, asset value has been selected to form the basis of a comparison between those who might be loosely classified as wealthy (assets of more than $1m) and those with $250,000 or less in assets.

Five behaviours or beliefs differentiate these groups.

1. Asset-rich Australians love printed and digital newspaper media

Each month, 6.4 million read the finance or business section of a printed newspaper.

Of these, a whopping 1.5 million have more than $250,000 in assets and 396,000 have assets of more than $1 million.

Additionally, 11.8 million people visit finance websites each month. Finance coverage by newspaper sites, such as, The Age,, The Australian and Adelaide Now each draw hundreds of thousands of readers.

The total monthly reach of these titles’ finance sections is more than 2 million people.

The rich get richer in part by acting on information in these sections – so it’s no surprise to see high indexes for the “$1m-plus Club”. They index 165 for reading printed finance sections and between 140-170 for the finance sections of newspaper websites.

2. Newspapers, a key source of information for financial products

Newspapers are highly influential in choosing superannuation, banks, credit cards and insurance. For wealthy Australians, online is the #1 and newspapers are the #2 most influential advertising media for all four finance categories.

3. Rich not the big spenders you might think

emma allows us to look at the amount people spend on a range of categories from DIY to cosmetics. When we compare The Wealthy vs the Not-So-Wealthy, we see overall discretionary spend across the seven measured categories is just 11 per cent more each month.

In some categories, The Wealthy actually spend less than the Not-So-Wealthy but the places they do spend more are home and garden (+29%), supermarkets (+27%) and cosmetics & fragrances (+18%).

It apparently pays to smell good when you’re out gardening or in the supermarket.

In terms of items The Wealthy own, the highest index is for a dishwasher (index 119), and they own an average 1.9 cars, compared with 1.6 for the Not-So-Wealthy.

The take out seems to be that most people have access to consumer goods in Australia, and buying or owning them is not a sign of wealth.

4. Fresh not frozen

Looking at eating habits, rich people like to buy more loose tea (index 165) and grind their own coffee (index 151 for buying coffee beans). Exotic cheeses (index 116), and lots of fresh fish (index 125) are high on the shopping list, too. Mustard (index 121) and muesli (index 127) also index strongly (but shouldn’t be mixed).

They avoid frozen food (e.g. frozen desserts index 56) and Nutella (choc/hazelnut spreads index 61).

5. Shares and property are the differentiators of rich people, not savings accounts.

Across the board, most people have a savings account (<$250k assets 49%; >$1m assets 55%). However, the average wealthy person has a diversified range of investments including:-

Investment products owned by Australians with >$1m assets

Super fund – 47%, index 132

Shares – 36%, index 167

Pensions & annuities – 17%, index 192


So, if you want to be like a wealthy person (and maybe even get rich):-

  • Read your newspaper’s finance section, in print and online. Use it to help you choose financial products.
  • Buy a few shares and sort out your super, taking advantage of the government’s tax concessions on both counts.
  • If you are to make a sandwich, the suggested filling (to feel rich) is exotic cheese, fish and mustard – and make sure you put on some fragrance to disguise the smell!



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