'Tis the Season for Affluent Online Shoppers - eMarketer

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'Tis the Season for Affluent Online Shoppers

This holiday season, 45% of affluents plan to shop online only

December 12, 2014

It’s the most wonderful time of the year. As frost and holiday sales nip at consumers’ tails this season, where are the affluents?

Locations Where US Affluents* Plan to Do Their Holiday Shopping, Sep 2014 (% of respondents)

A September 2014 Time Inc. and YouGov survey outlining the shopping habits of consumers in the US with a household income at or above $100,000 found that affluents planned to do most of their holiday shopping online this year.

The path to purchase for these consumers has lengthened over the years, now beginning with extensive research and ending some time later with a transaction. June 2014 polling by Martini Media looked at US affluent internet users who had researched or purchased online in the past seven days and found that 84% researched on a desktop or laptop before buying.

US Affluent* Internet Users Who Research and Purchase Products/Services Online, by Device, June 2014 (% of respondents)

Mobile devices were important research tools for affluents as well, though with a lower conversion rate. Where 84% who researched on desktop/laptop had 59% convert, of those who researched on their smartphones (43%), only 14% converted. That rate was slightly better among tablet users, where 37% said they researched on a tablet and 17% reported buying.

The Time and YouGov poll, which looked at 1,058 affluent US households constituting the top 10% of the country’s earners, found that their overall spending would be up 8.7% this year, translating to $1,920 per family, on average. For the rest of the population, or the population that accounts for 90% of US households, spending was expected to be up 12%, an increase to an average of $594 per family.

Compared with the same time last year, US affluents will still lead their gift purchases with gift cards and fashion, if only slightly less than they did last year. But in 2014, the likelihood that they will purchase books, jewelry, or something to do with food, wine, and spirits is up.

Still, while watches are a popular gift among men, affluents may still be stuck in recession mentality and, for the jewelry industry, which suffered greatly after the recession, this could indicate the first real, sustained growth in that sector, the study said.

But the best gift of the holiday season will be the ones affluent shoppers buy themselves. Parents with children under the age of 18, especially, expected to indulge themselves with a personal purchase (45%). The items they planned to treat themselves with? Jewelry, food and wine, cosmetics, smartphones, and art. Philanthropic initiatives and charitable donations also ranked highly among affluents’ self-gift lists.

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