Appealing to the Affluent: Trends that Brands Must Understand

So much of what we hear in regards to branding deals with companies trying to meet the needs of cost-conscious consumers that have been impacted by the recession. What about affluent shoppers? Brands need to understand these consumers too, especially because the way they shop is evolving.

According to a Martini Media survey that looked at online purchasing behaviors of affluent shoppers, these consumers are 40% more likely to make purchases on luxury retail websites; spend 80% more on average; are 15% more likely to make an online purchase in all categories than less-affluent shoppers; and spend 19% more per purchase than other shoppers. The survey defined “affluent shoppers” as those with a household income of more than $100,000.

Martini Media and comScore also created a “custom category” of affluent retailers, which includes Bloomingdale’s, Coach, Lululemon, Macy’s, Neiman Marcus, Nordstrom, Ralph Lauren, REI, Saks Fifth Avenue, Sephora, Talbots, Tiffany & Co., and Victoria’s Secret.

What is interesting is that affluent shoppers aren’t just hitting up Tiffany.com or Lululemon.com and buying whatever they please. The survey found that they are strategizing their purchases. In fact, 17% of affluent users visited one of these luxury retailers’ websites during the five days around Thanksgiving — the same time as those on the hunt for doorbusters. Affluent shoppers plan their purchases.

And they are increasingly turning to the Web. According to McKinsey and Altagamma, 72% of shoppers go online to compare products, and more than 30% of offline sales are either directly a result of or influenced by the online experience.

The new face of luxury shoppers

Those stats just explore shopping during the holiday season. Let’s take a look at some other trends that luxury brands should take note of on a year-round basis.

  • Affluent shoppers go digital. “When you think affluent, you may think of someone walking the aisles of a luxury store, but they are clearly leveraging digital in their daily lives, and this offers marketers a great opportunity to know they can use digital campaigns to reach them,” said Skip Brand, CEO of Martini Media, San Francisco. These shoppers are likely to utilize mobile devices, so brands can position themselves in that medium as well as on traditional websites.
  • Luxury shoppers love apparel, jewelry and accessories. With some disposable income to spare, they can spend more on items that are not necessarily necessities.
  • Value matters. Not all affluent shoppers will spend anything on…anything. These consumers want value for their money; And while they are not afraid to spend more for the goods they desire, it is a factor in their purchasing decisions. Affluent shoppers aren’t afraid to comparison-shop for the merchandise they want. They may not be clipping coupons (though some do) but they are certainly on the hunt for savvy deals.
  • Homegrown is hip. Fashion-conscious affluent consumers can appreciate apparel and other goods from notable foreign designers, but many are looking for their purchases to be from brands that manufacture their wares in the U.S., which is a growing trend.

“We are seeing a resurgence in ‘Made in America’ in contemporary brands”, said Saks Chief Executive, Steve Sadove, in an interview:

We are increasing sourcing there because you can get replenishment much more easily (through a) supply chain in America.

What trend among affluent shoppers do brands have to be paying attention to the most?

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