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UK Affluents Are a Savvy, Engaged Digital Demographic

High smart mobile device uptake among UK affluents

When it comes to technology, affluent consumers in the UK are typically at the front of the queue. And this “early adopter” behavior tends to lead to earlier market penetration and advanced levels of usage, according to a new eMarketer report, “UK Affluents: Definitely Digital, but Hard to Target.”

In 2012, data from the UK’s Office of Communications (Ofcom) indicated that affluents spent an average 21 hours per week using the internet. This was well above the next most engaged socioeconomic demographic. But not only are UK affluents big users of digital media, they are also wary of it, as illustrated by a lower-than-expected level of engagement with social media. Essentially, affluents are more aware than most of the pitfalls associated with certain online channels.

Those in the upper-middle and middle class—the AB group, according to the UK’s National Readership Survey—uses the internet for extremely varied purposes, with communication coming out on top: 92% of affluents took part in this activity at least once a week, a higher percentage than any other socioeconomic group, according to a survey by Ofcom. One activity that this group performed far more regularly than other groups was online transactions, with 61% of affluents carrying out such transactions at least once per week.

It seems, then, that this group is happy to bring its financial dealings into the online world. But in terms of ecommerce specifically, what are affluents’ digital spending habits?

One such habit that seems prevalent among this demographic is a high reliance on user reviews. An October 2012 study from Ipsos OTX and Ipsos Global @dvisor found that while internet users in Great Britain indexed highly for this across the board, with 81% of internet users saying that online reviews helped them with purchase decisions, that figure was even more remarkable among “high-income” individuals, at 88%.

Smart mobile devices are another digital technology UK affluents have taken up quickly. According to Ofcom data, in terms of smartphones, the figure for affluents was 62%, above all other segments. And tablets have also seen especially high uptake among affluents, although that disparity may close as more mini tablets come to market.

One thing that’s clear is that the traditional physical, personal experience that prestige brands have relied on in the past is no longer enough to sustain continued sales growth as more consumers in the country shop and buy online. However, how brands translate this personal experience to the digital world is the big conundrum.

The customer experience is vital. In making the digital move, certain elements of “physical touch” marketing can be retained. Creating a sense of exclusivity, for example, is something that marketers and brands can easily replicate in social media. Meanwhile, a perceived high-end experience often achieved by means of exclusive magazine circulation can be mirrored and enhanced via tablet delivery. Brands that can create this feeling of quality and exclusivity in their digital efforts stand to gain an early mover advantage in appealing to this very lucrative, yet underserved, demographic market.


The full report, “UK Affluents: Definitely Digital, but Hard to Target” also answers these key questions:

  • Who are affluents in the UK, and how big is the market?
  • How do UK affluents use and engage with digital media?
  • What should brands do to raise awareness and foster loyalty among the UK’s affluent consumers?

This report is available to eMarketer corporate subscription clients only. eMarketer clients, log in and view the report now.


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