holiday giftThough the US economy is showing signs of a slow recovery, most holiday messaging will still focus on discounts and lower pricing to attract shoppers. It makes sense to target price-conscious consumers, but etailers that just promote discounts could be missing another important holiday shopper segment: affluents. 

Luxury brands and etailers already know this. But there’s research and anecdotal evidence that makes the
case for why etailers of all types shouldn’t ignore affluent shoppers
this holiday season

Affluent shoppers spend more time searching online

Per Skip Brand, CEO of Martini Media:

The people with the most money spend the most time online. People who make more than $250,000 a year are online 34.1 hours/week, according to Mendelsohn. That’s more than any other group, including college students (30 hours).

This complements data released in June, which found that online customers were searching for, and spending more on luxury brands in 2010 than 2009.

Affluents don’t necessarily need discounts    

Compared to the general market, [affluent consumers] spend two times as much on everything, and three times as much per purchase, says Mendelsohn.

This is a no-brainer. More money earned means more money to spend. This creates an opportunity for etailers to move their more expensive items, and in many cases, without having to offer deep discounts.

Affluents can afford to be impulsive (and tell their colleagues, subordinates and friends)

Shoppers bound by budgets need to make rational purchases to cover every person on their list. Affluent shoppers may be just as bound by practicality, but the increased income gives them leeway to make more impulsive, emotion-driven purchases.

Emotional is unpredictable. Everyone indulges around what matters to them. Picture the doctor who books a 20-person lodge for a week – with fractional jet for all of his fly-fishing buddies – in 10 minutes on Jetsetter.com. Online supports emotional buying because a click takes half a second, but a physical checkout can take half an hour (that’s a lot of time to rethink).

The new economic reality may have many Americans reconsidering pricey items in favor of slightly less luxe, more practical alternatives – but that doesn’t mean the aspirations for pricey items are removed. So when they see their more affluent peers still buying, it creates influence.

With more time spent searching, and the means to make more impulsive, expensive purchases, affluent shoppers should at least be on the radar for a majority of etailers this holiday. It can be as simple as targeting them with special search campaign highlighting high-end products, or running banner ads on affluent sites and ad networks.

Photo Credit: mmlolek via Flickr