SOURCE: Luxury Institute

April 03, 2007 11:00 ET

The Wealthy and Web 2.0: Luxury Institute Survey Shows Wealthy Consumers Embrace Opportunities for Online Collaboration and Community but on Their Own Terms

NEW YORK, NY -- (MARKET WIRE) -- April 3, 2007 -- Among wealthy Americans, adoption rates for first-wave Web applications such as email, shopping, and retrieving news and information are nearly 100 percent, while second-wave apps -- or "Web 2.0" -- are gaining widespread acceptance. This shift creates opportunities for luxury goods marketers to deepen relationships with their wealthy clientele, and the skill with which they seize -- or fail to seize -- these opportunities will have long-term implications.

One of the most dramatic adoption increases in a Web 2.0 application is reading blogs. More than three-fourths of Americans (76 percent) earning over $150,000 reported doing so in 2007, compared to 57 percent who said that they were blog-readers in a similar survey in December 2005. A much smaller percentage writes blogs, but this practice has shown a big stride, growing from 18 percent in 2005, to 24 percent today. More than one-half of wealthy Web users (55 percent) communicate via instant messaging.

What many luxury firms may find surprising is the growing popularity of social networking sites among the wealthy, but long term, it may not be about the usual suspects. About one-third (31 percent) of the wealthy report using an online networking site, but just 13 percent say they are a member of Google's YouTube, and only 10 percent report being a member of News Corporation's MySpace. Less popular still are LinkedIn (seven percent), photo-networking site Flickr.com, Yahoo! 360, Friendster and Facebook (three percent each).

Predictably, networking sites are currently most popular with younger wealthy consumers; 41 percent of the wealthy 44 years of age and younger are members of a social networking site, just 19 percent of those ages 45-54 and 12 percent of those 55+ belong. In addition, men are more likely to be networking site members -- 32 percent versus 22 percent of women.

The embrace of Web 2.0 by the wealthy will mirror the rapid adoption by children of baby boomers, or, the "Net Generation" -- a term coined by Don Tapscott, CEO of New Paradigm Learning, author of "Growing Up Digital: The Rise of the Net Generation," and co-author of "Wikinomics: How Mass Collaboration Changes Everything" and "The Naked Corporation: How the Age of Transparency Will Revolutionize Business." The difference will be in the types of online communities the wealthy will embrace.

"Wealthy boomers are the most educated, highest achieving segment in history," said Milton Pedraza, CEO of the Luxury Institute. "They are not typical of mainstream baby boomers who are about to be 'lapped' by the Net Generation. These wealthy over-achievers are the original 'road warriors,' who never plan to retire, and stay tech-connected 24/7/365 by necessity. Expect them to embrace, and pay for, exclusive, collaborative 'safe harbor' online communities that are relevant to helping them achieve major goals in their personal and professional lives, not in their 'second' lives. This savvy segment, which truly has much to lose, will shun advertising-driven, biased and conflicted, open-to-the-public communities. They didn't get rich by being foolish."

Luxury industry professionals can find ways to adapt to the challenges and opportunities posed by Web 2.0 through an exclusive networking site of their own: the Luxury Board. The Luxury Board is an exclusive online community of luxury professionals, executives and entrepreneurs whose common cause is truly serving wealthy consumers. In addition to fully vetted, private peer-to-peer networking, full results of this survey, and scores of other surveys from the voice of the wealthy consumer, are available to professional members of the Luxury Board for an annual fee of $995.00. For more information, visit, www.luxuryboard.com.

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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