Affluent customers are out there and they have money. Yet in the current economic climate, they do not simply spend their money willy-nilly. They do research, read reviews and recommendations, and seek advice. The advice they accept and trust the most comes from two sources: word-of-mouth referrals and suggestions presented by the media. In other words, affluent customers are influenced in making luxury purchases.
According to Helen Leggatt, 43% of affluent Americans are influenced by the internet in their buying decisions. Another 30% are influenced by magazines, 29% by experts, and 19% by radio, television, and direct mail. Ipsos Mendelsohn performed a survey of affluent customers in 2008. The results were summarized by eMarketer:
Affluent customers who made more than $250,000 per year spent the most time online. In fact, the survey found that the higher the income level, the more time spent online. Those in the $250,000 category spent 27.4 hours per week on the internet, 17.8 hours per week watching television, and 10.9 hours per week listening to the radio.
For example, Home Electronics Journal (HEJ) reported that 93% of affluent consumers in the U.S. researched anticipated electronics purchases before buying. When doing their research, 62% of affluent customers used both merchandise websites and search engines, while 27% relied on e-mail newsletters in their research. HEJ discovered more than 50% of affluent customers purchase computers online.
Most interesting is the fact that affluent customers who shop online spend an average of $114,632 per year versus $22,813 per year for those who shop in stores.
Tootoomart did a study of online shopping habits of affluent customers. The study focused on time and frequency. The results include the fact that more than 60% of affluent net-surfers buy online at least two times per month. Affluent online customers shop primarily on weekdays, during normal business hours. Most purchases were made around noon. And most of the online buyers were affluent women.
All of these statistics point to one thing: an online presence is absolutely necessary to any company or individual targeting affluent customers. Neglecting the internet as a marketing tool almost guarantees failure for sellers of luxury goods and services.