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Affluents Are Wary About Purchasing Online

Marketers might do well to save up digital spend for mobile devices for that sunny day when consumers actually buy things using smartphones. So far, not many consumers do so. And affluent consumers are no different in that regard. The Shullman Luxury and Affluence Monthly Pulse, based on interviews of 500 representative American consumers and of 1,000 consumers with household incomes of $75,000 and above, finds that 85% prefer to research products online, with the vast majority preferring  a computer for research. Only 6% prefer to do their research on a tablet, and 8% prefer a smartphone.  

When it comes to the way affluents say they prefer to buy, 55% of them prefer online. Of those, 44% prefer using a computer, 8% a tablet and only 4% want to shop using a smartphone -- a percentage garnered from all cohorts, including the households that make $250,000 or more and those making half a million or more. 

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When Shullman Research looked at the obverse — what shopping channel makes consumers uncomfortable, about half across the board say they don't feel comfortable shopping online. But smartphones leap to the top when it's broken down by digital channel: 40% of respondents said they do not like using smartphones to buy; 21% said they felt the same way about tablets; and only 8% don't feel comfortable shopping by computer. 

A quarter of respondents said they do not like shopping over the phone or by mail order. Only 10% are uncomfortable buying in stores, which is actually higher than the percentage who are uncomfortable buying on computer, per the study.

When it comes to how they actually shop, the vast majority of both affluents and the entire consumer market made their purchases of luxury items the old-fashioned way. Eighty-one percent of all adults and 87% of affluents bought products in person at stores. For online, those numbers drop to 41% for all adults and 51% for affluents, again with laptop and desktop computers the machine of choice for the majority. The numbers drop way down after that to 6% and 7%, respectively, who used tablets; 8% and 10%, respectively, bought luxury items using smartphones, per the study.

People who buy luxury goods online said they do it principally for convenience, per the study -- although more of the entire adult population said it was because things are just cheaper online. Only 19% of affluents said price was the reason, while about 40% of them said they shop online for convenience. Forty-three percent of adults with household incomes of $500,000 or above said they don't buy online at all. That's a far larger percentage than other cohorts. When queried about what would make them consider shopping online, the most prevalent reason among both affluents and everyone taken together was better prices, discounts and deals, although that drops significantly for -- no surprise -- households making $500,000 or more.

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