SOURCE: Luxury Institute

March 19, 2007 11:00 ET

The Wealthy on the Web: Luxury Institute Survey Shows Rich Americans Ready to Embrace Web 2.0

NEW YORK, NY -- (MARKET WIRE) -- March 19, 2007 -- Media firms and providers of luxury and mainstream goods and services should be aware that wealthy Americans are avid Internet users who frequently tap into Web information and shopping resources -- and do so from multiple locations and platforms. According to the findings of a comprehensive survey by the independent New York City-based Luxury Institute, the Internet is no longer an adjunct for reaching and doing business with the wealthy. Rather it has become an essential -- if not the central -- channel for the exchange of information and the conduct of commerce for the wealthy.

"This survey documents that wealthy consumers have 'been there, done that' as far as Web 1.0 is concerned," said Milton Pedraza, CEO of the Luxury Institute. "Wealthy consumers are the most educated, highest achievers in history and will not be left behind by Web 2.0 with its interactive and collaborative characteristics." (In following releases, we will show how the wealthy are adopting Web 2.0, refusing to be "lapped" by Echo Boomers.)

Showing the ubiquity of high-speed Internet in daily life, 99 percent of Americans with annual incomes of $150,000 access the Internet from home; just two percent still use dial-up connections. Most of the wealthy get access with a cable modem (47 percent) or DSL line (32 percent), seven percent use T-1 lines. More than three-fourths (78 percent) report accessing the Internet regularly at work.

The most popular browser is Microsoft's Internet Explorer, used by 63 percent -- and by 74 percent of those earning more than $500,000 annually. Firefox is the second most popular browser with a 15-percent share.

Google is dominant in search engines with a 63-percent market share. A distant number-two, Yahoo! is the preferred search provider for 11 percent of the wealthy, although it is the most popular provider of homepages, leading Google by 23 percent to 17 percent. Portals and content providers need to optimize viewing of their Web pages for browsing on devices other than personal computers as mobile access is becoming increasingly popular with the wealthy; 19 percent regularly go online with PDA devices, such as the BlackBerry from Research in Motion or Palm Treo. Sixteen percent report using cell phones for access on the go.

Compared to results of a similar 2005 survey of Internet habits, several areas of online activity have shown especially noteworthy increases. While sending and receiving email are still the most popular online activities, 82 percent of the wealthy now pay their bills online, compared to 75 percent in 2005, and 85 percent say that they conduct research for work -- up from 79 percent. Background checks are also gaining in popularity, with 80 percent of the wealthy reporting conducting checks online, compared to 75 percent in 2005.

Nearly all wealthy Americans (98 percent) use the Web to purchase goods and services, and more than half (55 percent) do it "frequently." Amazon.com is the most popular shopping destination, mentioned by name by nine percent of the wealthy, followed by eBay with a six-percent mention, and Dell with three percent.

One area of e-commerce that has surged in popularity is buying and downloading music. Driven in large part by the ubiquity of the Apple iPod and other music players -- 54 percent of the wealthy own an MP3 player -- the percentage of the wealthy who buy and download music has jumped from 42 percent to 55 percent in less than two years.

Full results of this comprehensive survey are available online (at no cost) to individual professional members of the Luxury Board (www.luxuryboard.com), the Luxury Institute's online community for global luxury professionals. It is also available for $4,950 from the Luxury Institute.

About the Luxury Institute

The Luxury Institute is the uniquely independent and impartial ratings and research institution that is the trusted and respected voice of the high net-worth consumer. The Institute provides a portfolio of proprietary publications and research that guides and educates high net-worth individuals and the companies that cater to them on leading edge trends, high net-worth consumer rankings and ratings of luxury brands, and best practices. The Luxury Institute also operates the Luxury Board (www.luxuryboard.com), the world's first global, membership-based online community for luxury goods and services executives, professionals and entrepreneurs. To reach the Luxury Institute, please call 646-792-2669 or go to www.luxuryinstitute.com.

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