Up Front With Martin B. Deutsch



April 1, 1986 -- We live in a society driven by statistics, finance, and figures. Scratch a marketing campaign and it rides on the stats provided by research, analysis, percentages, interpolations, projections. Probe or peek into any corner of our day-to-day activities and you know what you’ll find—statistics. Even sexual behavior is interpreted by stats, as are the more deviant or antisocial manifestations, such as crimes or recidivism. Epidemics of major portions and milder ailments are measured by percentages locally, regionally, nationally or worldwide.

Even the sports pages, whether it’s yesterday’s games of the latest salary hassles, are riddled with figures. We measure just about everything we do today, we assign numerical values to the results, we program our computers with figures and stats, we get odds and point spreads (often way off target) on our national athletic events, based on statistical input.

There’s no escaping the ubiquitous stats—and maybe that’s not all bad. Stats line an avenue that brings change and growth; stats are the hieroglyphics of affluence and progress. (Of course, I sometimes ask myself, was Dostoyevsky influenced, in any way, shape or form, by statistics when he wrote Crime and Punishment?)

Anyway, I’m about to add to the glut. With no little pride.

Before Frequent Flyer got off the launching pad in September of 1980, we ran a demographic study of the OAG Pocket Flight Guide subscribers, since they would be the recipients of the magazine. In 1981 we commissioned an early readership/demographic survey, with excellent results. The bottom line on every category of questions was even better when we repeated the process in 1983.

We’ve gone back to the well once more, and the latest tabulations are in from the Simmons Market Research Bureau (SMRB was also out vehicle three years ago). Let me share some of the highlights with you.

The average household income has jumped from $109,300 to $116,800, and average household net worth leveraged up from $395,000 to $441,000. Three years ago 11 percent of our readers were millionaires; now 16.2 percent report household net worth in excess of $1 million.

These findings once again establish Frequent Flyer readers as one of the most affluent, influential magazine audiences on the national scene. Take another approach: 82.9 percent are managers or professionals, or 77.6 percent fall into the classification of managers and administrators. These returns give Frequent Flyer more than four times the national average among magazines; and none of the other major business publications, including Forbes, Fortune, Business Week, Barrons or the Wall Street Journal, can provide such an impressive concentration of executives. And some icing on this particular cake: 35.2 percent of our audience holds top management posts—CEO, president, owner, etc.

A quick rundown of other major findings shows that nearly nine out of ten readers are involved in corporate purchasing decisions, they averaged nearly 28 domestic roundtrips by air in the last full year (1985), nearly two-thirds of them took an average of 4.1 foreign trips in 1985, they spent 55.8 hotel/motel nights at domestic properties, ten nights at hotels abroad, and an amazing 74.4 percent hold valid passports.

The audience remains predominantly male at 83.8 percent. But this represents a substantive gain in women readers from the prior study, 11 percent to 16.2 percent. We believe this change reflects the growing number of women in responsible positions. The median age of our readers remains what I would call young to early middle age at 43.8 years.

In the vital strata of regular readers, 71.7 percent read at least 3-out-of-4 issues regularly. Where do you read this magazine? At work 50.6 percent, at home 40.9 percent, and while traveling 26 percent. And in what kinds of business or industry do you work? Manufacturing leads the way at 51.1 percent, Business/Professional Services 20.7 percent, Wholesale/Retail Trade 5.7 percent, Finance/Insurance/Real Estate 10.4 percent, Transportation 6.9 percent, Agriculture/Mining/Construction 2.4 percent, and the rest miscellaneous.

We could go on and on to flesh out this impressive, business-oriented profile, but we don’t want you to overdose on statistics. Further, our readers also pursue active lives on the social and public fronts. A few examples will suffice. In the past year almost three out of four attended sports events, nearly two-thirds went to live theatre and 32 percent made it to a classical concert. Fifty-two percent addressed public meetings, 48.6 percent wrote elected officials about matters of civic business, 34.4 percent wrote to the editor of a magazine or newspaper, and 30.2 percent wrote articles that were published.

I’ve skipped over such significant sectors in the Simmons survey as cars rented (16.7 last year), home ownership, investments, life insurance owned, automobiles, credit cards, cameras and home/personal computer ownership. But you’re right up there in every classification and class.

The quality of our readership, beyond the statistics, is reflected on many fronts in many ways. A sizeable 53.8 percent took the time to fill out the eight-page questionnaires that Simmons sent out for this survey. (Thank you!) When I recently mentioned in this column that a cruise last summer had caused me to miss out on the last two episodes of "Reilly: Ace of Spies," dozens of you wrote in to offer me tapes. (Thank you again!) And periodicals of all shapes and sizes continue to quote our editorial product; The New York Times has cited Frequent Flyer twice in recent editorials. The same coverage goes for the broadcast media. We couldn’t do it without you.

This column originally appeared in Frequent Flyer magazine.

Copyright © 1991-2007 by Martin B. Deutsch. All rights reserved.