American Marketer


Affluent consumers increasingly rely on smartphones for shopping

December 27, 2010

Luxury brands are increasingly using mobile marketing to engage consumers


Since a whopping 43 percent of adults have smartphones, luxury brands should take note and develop a mobile presence to reach busy affluent consumers.

A study conducted by Q&A Research and Thomas/Ferrous Inc. found that one-third of smartphone owners anticipate using their device to purchase via a mobile application or Web site for the holiday shopping season. Sixty-nine percent of smartphone users like being able to purchase from any location and 43 percent believe that it is as easy to make a purchase using a smartphone as it is via a computer.

“Certainly, luxury brands should have a mobile strategy, but implementing the ability to actually purchase from a mobile device is less necessary than providing consumers with the tools and info they need to make a purchase and having that in the palm of their hand,” said Noah Elkin, principal analyst at eMarketer, New York.

Q&A Research is a marketing firm that offers quantitative and qualitative services to clients.

Thomas/Ferrous is a marketing and design firm that provides services in strategic planning, advertising, design and mobility solutions. The companies surveyed 424 adults for the study.

Affluents and smartphones

Based on the data from the survey, many affluent consumers are integrating smartphones into their online shopping behavior.

As the number of mobile-reliant shoppers continues to grow, luxury brands need to capitalize on the marketing opportunity (see story).

It is safe to assume the affluent consumers likely own high-end devices, with data plans. Additionally, these busy consumers, who work, are likely to appreciate any tools to make the shopping process simpler.


The report found that 43 percent of the adults sampled own a smartphone, a significant jump from 28 percent last year.

Also, 47 percent of users have bought a product or service via their smartphone.

The survey found that male smartphone owners are twice as likely as female owners to purchase via their smartphone.

Conversely, 77 percent of users feel it is not as easy to make purchases via smartphones as it is a computer.

Additionally, 34 percent do not believe it is a secure way to make purchases.

Importance of mobile

Brand perception, loyalty and retention are just some of the reasons why mobile is important for luxury brands (see story).

As mobile phones become faster and more advanced in their capabilities, luxury consumers are adapting and using them for their shopping experience.

Plus, shopping from a mobile device is extremely convenient.

Mobile allows affluent consumers to interact with the brand in their own fashion. That way, their brand experience will be consistent with their perception of the brand.

Shopping via a smartphone offers a more intimate, direct and convenient interaction with the brand.

“Mobile commerce is becoming a significant way consumers are purchasing goods and services, and brands and retailers are quickly realizing that mobile is becoming a strategic new channel for them that also supports their ecommerce, in-store and catalog channels,” said Dan Lowden, vice president of mobile at Digby, Austin, TX.

“Up until this point, retailers have mostly focused on enabling a mobile-optimized Web site that is uniquely designed – not cut and paste from their ecommerce site – to create a fun and easy-to-use personal mobile shopping experience,” he said.

“This is a great first step in building a mobile strategy.”

Final take

Elizabeth Zelesny is editorial assistant at Luxury Daily, New York.