Touchy-Feely Prompts Luxury Retail Stores Over Online

According to a new Luxury Shopping Survey from Accenture, half of U.S. consumers are likely to make a small luxury purchase in the next six months, including 53% who are likely to purchase specialty food or drinks, 48% to purchase luxury clothing and 48% to purchase luxury personal care products.

Splurging on a small luxury is the number one reason consumers buy specialty food or drinks. High-low fashion is the top reason shoppers shop luxury apparel.  57% of those who intend to purchase luxury apparel will mix a few luxury items into a wardrobe of more affordable clothing.

Consumers prefer to shop in stores for specialty food and gourmet products primarily because they like to see all the choices in person. Online is preferred for finding the best deal

Reasons For Purchasing Specialty/Gourmet Food And Drink From A Physical Store


% of Respondents

Like to see choices in person


Want to test and touch


Discover unique finds


Stores fun, social activity


Knowledgeable sales representative


Source: Accenture, November 2012


Reasons For Purchasing Specialty/Gourmet Food And Drink From An Online Store


% of Respondents

Can find best deal online


Convenience of shopping anytime


No store available locally


Comparison of consumer reviews


Deal directly with sales people


Source: Accenture, November 2012

Tom Jacobson, managing director of the Accenture Pricing & Profit Optimization practice, says “... consumers want a taste of luxury in their everyday lives... but the emphasis is on small items... may think twice about a new handbag... but shop for a wallet as an alternative...”

Consumers who buy luxury personal care products (including hair and skincare products and makeup) tend to do so because they believe luxury products are better for their bodies or will improve their appearance. And, physical stores beat online shopping two-to-one for luxury personal care products

Motivation To Purchase Luxury Personal Care Products


% of Respondents

Luxury products better for body


Improve appearance


Luxury products better quality


Increase level of luxury in life


Purchase luxury products for friend & family


Want the best of everything


Conveys accomplished and successful


Source: Accenture, November 2012

In each of the three small-product categories polled, consumers indicated a strong preference for brick-and-mortar stores when shopping for luxury goods:

  • On average, 36% prefer to shop in a physical store, while 19% prefer to shop online  
  • Among those likely to purchase luxury food and drink, 50% prefer shopping at specialty grocery stores and 40% like shopping at mass retailers, while only 19% prefer to shop at online-only retailers
  • 38% of consumers say that the top reason for shopping in physical stores is to see all the choices in person 30% of shoppers in this category prefer online retailers to get the best price and 25% value the convenience of online shopping
  • For those who are likely to make a luxury apparel purchase, 58% picked department stores as their top choice, compared to only 29% who prefer a department store’s website and 36% who prefer online-only retailers
  • 49% say that the top reason for choosing the physical store is the ability to touch and feel the products, whereas 37% say that online retailers are preferred for finding the best deal
  • Physical stores beat online shopping two-to-one for luxury personal care products, 44% of shoppers in this category prefer drug stores and 40% prefer department stores, compared with 22% who prefer online-only retailers.

 The study also found that showrooming, or viewing a product in a store and then going online to make the purchase, plays an important role in luxury purchases.  In the past six months, one in five consumers visited a store to experience a luxury product in person and then purchased the product online. 

Why Buy It Online (% of Those Who Went From Store to Online to Purchase)

  • 61% search websites for best price
  • 40% wait for better price online
  • 37% found more product options
  • 22% feel rushed in store
  • 19% say more flexible return policy online
  • 12% don’t like dealing with sales people in stores

 By providing special deals and bargains through group membership, shopping sites have invited more luxury purchases.  Among the 23% of consumers who have bought luxury goods and services from an online group that offers exclusive discounts to members, 58% say these sites have increased their luxury spending.  

The survey identified a number of differences between Millennials and Baby Boomers when it comes to luxury shopping.  35% of Millennials indicated their likelihood to purchase luxury goods is up over the past year, 46% of Baby Boomers indicated their likelihood to purchase luxury goods has decreased in the past year.  

Among consumers who said they are not likely to purchase luxury goods, the majority of Millennials said they cannot afford the prices, while the majority of Baby Boomers say luxury is not important to them or not worth the cost. 

The survey found quality is ranked the most important factor by 75% of consumers when buying luxury, followed by price at 69%. Only 25% ranked brand name as most important.  

Jacobson concludes that “... luxury brands cannot rest of on strength of their names alone... (they) must ensure that the quality and features of their products exceed the expectations set by their price tags... “

The overall sample was targeted to reflect census distribution of the adult US population. The overall margin of error is +/- 2.2%, says the report.

For more details from Accenture, and access to the complete file and charts, please visit here.




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