SOURCE: Unity Marketing

February 24, 2010 07:50 ET

Luxury Marketers and Retailers: To Be a 'Friend,' You Have to Listen: Unity Marketing Report Shows How Luxury Marketers Can Effectively Use Social Media

Affluents Are More Likely to Use Social Media to Look at Brands, Rather Than to Commit to a Relationship With Them; New Unity Marketing Report Shows Marketers Ways to Make the Connection

STEVENS, PA--(Marketwire - February 24, 2010) -  Marketers are abuzz with the possibilities of social networking. In a new survey among 1,614 affluent luxury consumers (avg. income $239.3k), some 78 percent of affluent consumers have at least one social networking profile (usually on Facebook). From the marketers' point of view, social networking sites seem the logical place to close sales.

However, expecting to generate sales with a Facebook page is a misunderstanding of how affluents actually use social media, says Pam Danziger, president of Unity Marketing and author of the new trend report on the luxury market, How the Affluent Luxury Consumer Uses the Internet and Social Media: An In-Depth.

"Affluent consumers have flocked to social media, but they use it as one more tool to gather information to make purchase decisions," says Danziger. "Smart marketers will tap the interactivity of these sites to reach out to affluent consumers, ask for their input, and really listen to what these consumers need in order to decide to make a purchase."

Some key findings of the report include:

  • Social media isn't just for the young. Some 70 percent of affluent consumers over age 40 have at least one social media profile.
  • About half of affluents have used a social media site to connect with a brand, such as viewing new products or commenting on a brand. However, only one in four have 'friended' a luxury brand.
  • Affluents are more likely to use social media to look at brands rather than to commit to a relationship with them.

"The findings of our research are clear. Social media is most valuable to luxury marketers as a way to listen to their customers, not about finding another channel through which to sell to them," says Danziger. "Luxury brands can't afford to be deaf to what customers are saying. This report provides the latest research on how affluent luxury shoppers are using the Internet and social media to shop and learn about brands. It shows marketers how affluents are using social media today in order to teach marketers how to listen more effectively and how to act on what they hear."

As for the future of luxury brands on social media like Facebook, Danziger advises luxury brands, "Building and maintaining a relationship with your affluent customers is critical. Brands need to think of the social networking aspect of their own websites. They don't need to have a Facebook page to 'friend' an affluent shopper. Brands can friend their customers through positive and supportive online interaction on the company's primary website."

Click this link to see major findings from this ground-breaking study, to review its table of contents, study methodology, and to order your copy. http://www.unitymarketingonline.com/cms_luxury/luxury/luxury3/Luxury_3Q2009/ Internet_Social_Media_Trend_Report_2-18-09.php

About the report, How the Affluent Luxury Consumer Uses the Internet and Social Media: An In-Depth

This 59-page trend report, titled How Affluent Luxury Consumers Use the Internet and Social Media, is based upon a survey of 1,614 affluent consumers (avg. income $239,300). It answers these critical questions for luxury marketers in order to plan their online marketing strategies, including how best to use social media for building their brand:

  • How often do affluent consumers use the Internet in support of luxury goods and services purchases, what they buy online, how much they spend?
  • When do they turn to the Internet and why they use it?
  • What are their favorite luxury websites and what specifically do they value about their favorite websites?
  • How do affluent luxury shoppers use social media to learn about luxury brands, share information about luxury brands, and connect with people with similar outlooks on luxury brands?
  • What turns them on about using the Internet for luxury purchasing and research?

A total of 1,614 affluent consumers with incomes of $100,000 or more and who bought luxury goods or services in the fourth quarter were surveyed. from January 8-27, 2010. The result of this survey are compared with findings from similar studies conducted in third quarter of 2007 and 2005, so that four years of trends in luxury consumers use of the Internet can be measured and tracked. 

In addition, a segment of extremely active Internet shoppers have been identified in this study. A detail analysis of their responses are included in this report.

The special investigation questions designed to help luxury marketers and brands better use their websites to attract and retain the affluent shoppers, included:

  • How affluents use the Internet (e.g. shopping, researching purchases, getting gift ideas, connecting with friend, travel plans, etc.); total hours on a weekly basis they use the internet for personal interests and shopping-related activities.
  • More about Internet shopping,, such as what attracts them to a website to shop; how much they spent online; features of importance when shopping online; what features a website devoted to luxury brands must offer its customers.
  • We asked how online shopping compares to in-store, whether the affluents surveyed like online better than in-store or vice versa. The results will surprise you!
  • On social media, we asked about whether they have profiles on any social media site; which social media site they use most often; how frequently they long on; how many people they are connected with; why they use social media, such as to reconnect with old friends, professional networking, to learn about brands/companies/products, etc. 
  • We asked if they were connected or friends with any brand and if they were likely to become friends in the future; about their use of advertising on social media sites; and whether they use social shopping sites, such as Gilt.com, Hautelook, Rue LaLa. 

Demographics of those surveyed
In the survey the average age of respondents was 45.9 years and average household income was $239,300. Nearly 20% of the affluents polled were classified as 'ultra-affluents,' those at the top 2% of U.S. households with incomes of $250,000. 

Virtually all respondents use the Internet for personal uses, including shopping . Further nearly 80% of affluents are social media users.

A segment called 'heavy-users' were identified as important for luxury marketers when planning Internet and social media strategy. The heavy users are affluents who used the internet for four or more hours per week for shopping purposes. 

(Note: the average number of hours for all respondents was about 4, thus the segment of heavy users are those who spent more than the average amount of time shopping on the Internet.)

For media: Danziger available for interviews. Charts, tables and graphs detailing major findings in the report also are available.

About Pam Danziger and Unity Marketing

Pamela N. Danziger is an internationally recognized expert specializing in consumer insights for marketers targeting the affluent consumer. She is president of Unity Marketing, a marketing consulting firm she founded in 1992.

Advising such clients as PPR, Diageo, Waterford-Wedgwood, Google, Lenox, Swarovski, GM, Constellation Wines, Luxottica, Orient-Express Hotels, Italian Trade Commission, Marie Claire magazine, The World Gold Council, and The Conference Board, Pam gives luxury marketers an All Access pass to the minds of the luxury consumers. By engaging in a dialogue with the luxury consumer, she learns about affluents' brand preferences, shopping habits, and attitudes about the luxury marketplace and turns these into actionable strategies marketers can use to reach these critically important consumers. Unity Marketing is the voice of the luxury consumer.

In recognition of her ground-breaking work in the luxury consumer market, Pam received the Global Luxury Award presented by Harper's Bazaar for top luxury industry achievers in 2007. 

Pam is a member of "The League of Extraordinary Minds" -- a panel made up of over 50 marketing and business experts, including such noted authorities as Al Reis, Jack Trout, Jay Conrad Levinson, Serigo Zyman and Stephen Covey to name a few.

Follow Pam on Twitter @PamDanziger

Her new book Putting the Luxe Back in Luxury will be published in late 2010 by Paramount Market Publishing. Her other books include Shopping: Why We Love It and How Retailers Can Create the Ultimate Customer Experience (Kaplan, $27); Let Them Eat Cake: Marketing Luxury to the Masses-as well as the Classes, (Dearborn Trade Publishing, $27, hardcover) and Why People Buy Things They Don't Need: Understanding and Predicting Consumer Behavior (Chicago: Dearborn Trade Publishing, 2004). 

She has appeared on CNN's In the Money, NBC's Today Show, CNBC, CNN International, CNNfn, CBS News Sunday Morning, Fox News' Your World with Neil Cavuto, ABC News Now, NPR's Marketplace and is frequently called upon by the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, American Demographics, Women's Wear Daily, Forbes, USA Today, Associated Press, Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune for commentary and insight.

Contact Information

  • Contact:
    Pam Danziger
    717-336-1600