More affluents shop online.
Saturday, 29th January 2011
Source : By Pam Danziger ~ Unity Marketing
Affluent shoppers head online through computersand increasingly via mobile devices, giving luxury marketers 24/7 opportunity to sell.

Meanwhile young affluents reach more often for their smartphones to connect and learn.

If the recent recession brought with it marketer anxiety about finding, maintaining, and selling to an increasingly-skittish customer base, then the 'internet revolution' was the silver lining in the dark economic cloud --

A new survey from Unity Marketing found that four out of five affluent consumers logged online in the past three months from their desktop or laptop computer to make a purchase, shop for a gift, or research a product or service.

Mobile devices are increasingly important for brands to connect with young affluents, aged 24-44, who use mobile apps at a rate two-times higher than mature affluents, 45-70.

According to new trend report from Unity Marketing, Affluent Consumers and How They Use the Internet, Social Media and Mobile Devices: an in-depth profile of the luxury online consumer, in the past year the internet has become an even more powerful medium with which to connect with the affluent shopper in search of luxury goods and services.

In only a year, the percentage of luxury shoppers that made a purchase online in the past three months rose from 68 percent to 83 percent, based upon surveys fielded among affluent consumers in January 2010 and 2011. This interest in shopping online is particularly acute for those in the slightly more mature 35-54 age group, perhaps a surprise to those who think of the internet as the province of the young.

"This finding is a particular boon for luxury marketers," says Pam Danziger, president of Unity Marketing and lead researcher in the new investigation of how affluents use the internet. "Luxury marketers must embrace the internet as a 24/7 opportunity to sell, to provide information, and to form relationships, all without the overhead associated with a bricks-and-mortar store."

Young affluents connect via mobile devices

The new trend report also finds that younger affluents, age 24-44, are twice as likely as mature affluents, age 45-70, to use their smartphones to form relationships with people, companies, and brands. Ranking as affluents' most popular use of mobile devices is to connect with friends on a social networking site, with researching restaurants and getting news and information about local businesses and events as the second and third most important ways affluents use mobile devices in their luxury lifestyles.

"Young affluents may not be doing a great deal of purchasing via their mobile devices yet, but these devices facilitate spending plans made on the go, with tools like restaurant and shop locators, movie schedules, and patron reviews of events and destinations," says Danziger. "Our research indicates that marketers who provide information in a mobile-accessible form, such as by a smartphone app, have a leg up in reaching those customers when they are out and about with plans to eat, shop and attend events."

"Luxury marketers can no longer depend on the in-store ambiance to create the experience of shopping for a luxury brand or service. Rather, they need to create the kind of robust, 24/7, mobile experience that reaches the consumer where they are. Our new report takes this powerful new research data and translates it into actionable recommendations that will help marketers make their online and mobile presence every bit as luxurious as their flagship store."

New trend report shows you how affluents use the internet, social media and mobile devices in their luxury lifestyles

Today's luxury marketer may never see his or her best customer. Instead, many affluent consumers rely on the internet to investigate brands, form connections and make purchases. As they do, they are turning the world of marketing luxury upside down.

To better understand the online shopping landscape, Unity Marketing conducted a new survey of 1,237 affluent consumers from January 6-13, 2011 (avg. income $308,700; age 43.9 yrs; 42 percent male/58 percent female) who use the internet, social media, and -- new this year -- mobile devices. The results of which are compared with a similar survey conducted in January 2010 among an equally affluent sample.

It answers these critical questions about today's online environment so that luxury marketers can develop their online marketing strategies, including how best to use social media for building their brand and how to tap the rising power of mobile apps to connect with the affluent shopper:
  • How often do affluent consumers use the Internet in support of luxury goods and services purchases, what do they buy online, how much do they spend?
  • And key for marketers today, how the affluent customers are accessing luxury online -- via computers or mobile; through company websites, social media or through mobile apps?
  • When do they turn to the Internet and why they use it?
  • What are their favorite luxury websites and what specifically do they value about their favorite websites?
  • How do affluent luxury shoppers use social media to learn about luxury brands, share information about luxury brands, and connect with people with similar outlooks on luxury brands?
  • What turns them on about using the Internet for luxury purchasing and research?
The new report tracks the trends in affluent's use of the internet. It compares the most current 2011 data with data gathered during 2010, 2007, and 2005 to paint a picture of the changing landscape of online action and interaction.

Mobile Apps: Real data about how affluents are using mobile devices to connect with luxury brands

This year's report includes an in-depth look at how affluent consumers use their mobile devices to shop, interact, form relationships, and learn more about their favorite luxury brands.

The investigation includes information on use of mobile devices, use of apps, willingness to pay for apps, and loyalty to mobile apps from luxury brands.

Internet Shopping: What luxury marketers need to know about their customers who shop online

The special investigation questions designed to help luxury marketers and brands better use their websites to attract and retain the affluent shoppers, includes:
  • How affluents use the internet via either computers or mobile devices in the past three months, such as shopping, researching purchases, getting gift ideas, connecting with friend, travel plans, watching video content, local news etc.
  • How many hours on a weekly basis they typically use the internet for personal interests and activities, as well as for shopping-related activities.
  • About internet shopping, what product and/or service categories they are most likely to use the internet to access and how much in total they spend on the internet making purchases in the study period
  • How they find a website for shopping, such as internet search, experience with website from a store that they know, experience with online-only etail site, promotional link, etc.
  • Features of importance that attract affluents to internet shopping, such as convenience, price comparisons, product research, finding brands can't easily find in a store, etc.
  • About websites devoted to luxury brands and the features of most importance to attract the affluent shopper, such as product descriptions, pictures, return policy, customer ratings, etc.
  • How online shopping compares to in-store, whether the affluents surveyed like online better than in-store or vice versa. The results will surprise you!
  • A detailed list of websites and flash websites used in the study period, including etailers such as Amazon.com, eBay.com and net-a-porter, as well as flash sites such as Gilt.com, Hautelook, Rue LaLa, etc.
Social Media: How affluents use social media, plus track trends in social media usage in the past year

On social media, the following details about affluents use of social media were gathered:
  • Whether they have profiles on any social media sites, such as Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter, and on which of their social media sites are they most active.
  • How frequently they log onto their most active social networking site and how many people they are connected with.
  • Why they use social media, such as to share photos, to reconnect with old friends and classmates, to get news, professional networking, to learn about brands/companies/products, etc.
  • Specific ways they have used social media, for example whether they have become or currently are a fan or follower of a brand, used social networks to learn about products or brands, etc.
  • For those affluents who are connected or have been connected with a brand, what influenced them most to connect to the brand, such as insider news, interact with community of people who like the brand, get coupons, etc. Click here to download a sample page from the report about why affluents friend brands in social media.
  • Specific uses of Facebook and Twitter and for those not connected with a brand, their likelihood to do so in the next year.
  • Use of advertising on social media sites, such as clicking through.
  • Whether ever bought a product because of social media interaction, such as customer review, receipt of an email, blog post, etc.
The new trend report, Affluent Consumers and How They Use the Internet, Social Media, and Mobile Devices: An In-Depth Profile of the Online Luxury Customer, also includes the detailed crosstabs of all research questions so that subscribers can do their own in-depth research to meet their unique needs.

Demographics of those Surveyed

In the survey the average age of respondents was 443.9 years and average household income was $308,700, net wealth $9.2 million. One-third of the affluents polled were classified as 'ultra-affluents,' those at the top 2% of U.S. households with incomes of $250,000.

Virtually all respondents use the internet for personal uses, including shopping . Further over 80% of affluents are social media users.

A segment called 'heavy-users' were identified as important for luxury marketers when planning internet and social media strategy. The heavy users are affluents who used the internet for four or more hours per week for shopping purposes.

(Note: the average number of hours for all respondents was 5 hours -- up from 4 hours on average in 2010 -- thus the segment of heavy users are those who spent more than the average amount of time shopping on the internet.)

Click this link to learn more about the new trend report or to order a copy http://bit.ly/eidSQ4

For media: Danziger available for interviews. Charts, tables and graphs detailing major findings in the report also are available.

About Pam Danziger and Unity Marketing

Pamela N. Danziger is an internationally recognized expert specializing in consumer insights for marketers targeting the affluent consumer. She is president of Unity Marketing, a marketing consulting firm she founded in 1992. Pam received the Global Luxury Award for top luxury industry achievers presented at the Global Luxury Forum in 2007 by Harper's Bazaar.
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