American Marketer


Affluent shoppers buy more online and on mobile. Are brands ready?

August 30, 2013

Tom O’Regan is president and chief revenue officer of Martini Media


By Tom O’Regan

Affluent shoppers outpace average U.S. consumers in mobile usage. A recent Luxury Institute study of adults earning $150,000 or more revealed that 80-plus percent owned a smartphone, and more than half (56 percent) owned a tablet.

Most surveyed consumers were using their devices to look up store information, research products and comparison shop. But while the in-store purchase beat out the online purchase, it was not by much. Luxury ecommerce is definitely picking up.

Keeping score
Our recent Affluent Online Shopper Index, powered by comScore, showed that affluent consumers were 47 percent more likely than those earning under $100,000 to make an online purchase in the first quarter of 2013 and, on average, they spent 41 percent more on purchases.

Additionally, affluent consumers spent an average of $184 per purchase on luxury sites, more than twice what the average earner spends.

But while many marketers may focus on driving online sales – and rightly so – driving shoppers into stores should still be a high priority.

As researcher Michele Madansky pointed out earlier this year, “Search and site visitation for luxury goods is much higher than online purchases, indicating they are also purchasing offline after discovering products online and researching them on retailers’ and manufacturers’ sites.”

One reason for this is that luxury shoppers love the premium in-store experience, whether it is the sumptuous store interior, or the staff that knows their names and their product preferences and is able to make informed recommendations based on their knowledge of the clientele. Many also enjoy seeing, handling or trying on products before buying them.

Retail detail
If the goal is to drive in-store traffic, the mobile medium can be uniquely effective.

Banana Republic, for example, recently ran a geo-targeted coupon campaign offering a 10 percent discount with a mobile coupon to consumers within convenient distance of its stores. The coupon could also be saved as an image to the phone’s gallery or emailed for later use.

Neiman Marcus has launched a similar campaign, advertising a rare sale on Vanity Fair’s mobile site. The ads link to a store finder so that shoppers can dash into the nearest Neiman Marcus to take advantage of the discounts.

Even without location-based targeting, stores such as Brighton and even brands including Clinique have always been effective at driving in-store traffic with offers, rather than discounts. These ads can be effectively targeted to affluent women on their mobile devices to drive sales within the shopping mall.

To drive sales online, it is important for retailers to maintain the exclusive atmosphere of the store across all their online branding efforts – even on mobile.

A consumer engaging with an ad for Tiffany’s should have the sense that the iconic blue bag is within reach. This can be achieved with rich media, which is increasingly available on mobile devices.

Rich talk
As tablets gain penetration and smartphones begin to offer bigger, clearer screens and faster connection speeds, interactive and rich video ads on both devices can be engaging and effective.

Luxury automakers have been capitalizing on this with amazing success.

Cadillac recently launched a rich media mobile campaign that saw click-through rates of 2.11 percent versus the industry average of 0.5 percent.

Keeping the brand experience consistent across devices may be challenging, but it is worth the effort.

Rich ads such as the mobile Rising Stars and newer HTML5 formats can look just as beautiful on mobile devices as their desktop counterparts.

However, it is important to ensure that landing experiences are equally rich and engaging.

Moving forward, this issue will be addressed by the growing popularity of responsive sites and HTML5 templates, but today, many mobile experiences are downright awful.

Ensure that your mobile site is clean and worthy of your brand, that controls are appropriate for touch screens and work across devices, and that all brand assets render properly.

That seems like a simple and obvious checklist, but again, many mobile sites do not meet even these basic criteria.

AS MOBILE adoption grows across devices and affluent audiences, it is more important than ever that marketers stay ahead.

Mobile is already a critical medium for luxury retailers and brands to master, both to drive online sales and in-store traffic.

Tom O’Regan is president and chief revenue officer of Martini Media,New York. Reach him at tom.o’