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Convenience Draws Affluents to Online Holiday Shopping

Over Thanksgiving weekend, affluents were more likely to buy—and to spend more than average

Affluent consumers quashed any doubts about the strength of this year’s holiday shopping season during the Black Friday-through-Cyber Monday online shopping period. According to a study by Martini Media and comScore, affluents—those with annual household incomes greater than $100,000—embraced online holiday shopping in healthy numbers this year, despite some concerns about the so-called fiscal cliff. Affluents also took to online luxury shopping—perhaps demonstrating that convenience trumps all other factors for these consumers.

The Martini Media and comScore study looked at the degree to which US affluents purchased certain categories of products compared to less-affluent consumers. Between Black Friday and Cyber Monday, affluents were 15% more likely to make a purchase online compared to those with lower incomes. They also spent 19% more per purchase. In categories like apparel and accessories, affluents spent 80% more than less-affluent shoppers. Perhaps not surprisingly, affluents were also more likely (41%) to purchase from luxury websites.

Martini Media and comScore also tallied the average amount of money affluents spent during their online holiday shopping sprees. From November 21 to November 26, affluent buyers spent an average $113 on a given site. On apparel, accessories and jewelry sites, though, affluent buyers spent about $141 each. Those affluents buying on luxury retail sites dropped an even larger amount—$295 on average.

Although affluents—and consumers in general—may be becoming more confident about buying expensive or luxury items on the web, Martini and comScore did note affluents also doing a lot of research online, which is correlated to eventually purchasing luxury items in-store.

A study by American Express Publishing and Harrison Group from September looked at some potential reasons why US affluents might prefer to purchase in-store instead of online. According to their findings, 63% shopped in-store so that the return and exchange process was easier. A little over half, though, preferred the in-store experience because it was easier to get help choosing products. Similarly, exactly 50% said they shopped in-store because they believed it provided better customer service.

When it comes to shopping online, though, convenience appears to be the biggest draw. Seventy percent of US affluents told American Express Publishing and Harrison Group that convenience was a reason for their shopping online rather than in-store. Product availability and pricing were also big reasons.

Both the American Express Publishing/Harrison Group and Martini Media/comScore studies show that even when it comes to big-ticket purchases, affluents are not shying away from the online channel. And while convenience is the biggest internet shopping motivator, online luxury retailers should also take note of affluents’ desire for flexible return policies and superior customer service.

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Check out today’s other articles, “As Tablets Surge, Ereaders Struggle” and “Brazil's Robust Digital Ad Market Still Has Room to Grow.”

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