Teachers are an affluent, responsive and largely untapped group of consumers compared with other U.S. adults, a study by market research firm Market Data Retrieval says.

The study, based on interviews with about 1,500 educators from kindergarten to college level, said America's estimated 3 million teachers have an average household income of more than $50,000 a year, about 30 percent higher than that of other U.S. households.The study was conducted to inform merchandisers that teachers are prime consumers due to their substantial disposable incomes and the fact that they have 185 days off a year to travel and enjoy leisure activities, said R.B. Bartlett, director of marketing for the firm.

Compared with other consumer groups, the study said teachers are:

-50 percent more likely to respond to direct mail and telephone marketing offers.

-91 percent more likely to have spent more than $500 on direct response purchases during the last 12 months.

-heavy users of premium credit cards.

-60 percent more likely to belong to a health club.