Luxury Brand Retailers can Enhance Relationships with Affluent Customers through Careful Mobile Strategy

Wealthy Americans have been at the forefront of smartphone app use and m‑commerce. And that trend is likely to continue, according to a Q1 2012 study by the Luxury Institute and Plastic Mobile of U.S. consumers with an annual income of at least $150,000.  According to the report, 60% of these wealthy Americans owned a smartphone, of which more than 80% had downloaded an app. 

Some interesting positive facts were revealed in the study, including that nearly all wealthy consumers who have used luxury brand apps report that they have had a good experience with the mobile apps (93%). In addition, 71% report that they feel better connected to luxury brands after downloading and/​or using their applications and 64% view luxury brands that offer a mobile application more favorably than brands that do not.

The survey respondents suggest there are a number of features they expect from luxury brand applications, and they believe luxury brands could use apps to enhance the in-​store shopping experience. They also thought that providing sales professionals with a mobile application to specify details about products (53%), have the ability to check for sizes and availability at other stores (50%) and in-​store product inventory (47%) would enrich the shopping experience for affluent consumers.


However, the Institute found that only a small number of wealthy smartphone owners (12%) had downloaded a luxury brand’s app. That’s something that luxury retailers may want to work on changing, as wealthy smartphone shoppers are fairly consistent mobile shoppers. The survey found that about two-​thirds of wealthy smartphone owners said they shopped on their smartphone at rates ranging from rarely to regularly. And 63% of those shoppers reported having gone a step further to make a purchase on their mobile device.

Mobile luxury shoppers were most interested in using apps to gain access to discounts. Forty-​six percent of those who had downloaded or planned to download any mobile app said they expected a luxury app to provide them with a loyalty program. Early access to sales was the second-​highest anticipated app feature, at 45%.

The Institute also found that more than 40% of wealthy app downloaders said they were interested in apps that would provide a secure and convenient means of making luxury purchases. While almost half of wealthy smartphone owners said they preferred an in-​store shopping experience to m‑commerce, luxury brands should not ignore the sales potential provided by mobile apps. Seventy-​two percent of those affluent smartphone owners who shop via their device said there was no upper limit to what they would be willing to spend on an m‑commerce purchase.

Mobile has been receiving a lot of traction and excitement in the retail space lately. However, that doesn’t mean there is one mobile strategy that’s right for all brands. The study suggests for luxury it is more about enhancing the in-​store customer experience, and using mobile to help strengthen the relationship with the customer,” says Melody Adhami, President and COO of Plastic Mobile.

Overall, the study indicated a tremendous opportunity for luxury brand retailers to enhance relationships with affluent customers through careful mobile strategy.

[Source:  Research conducted by Luxury Institute and Plastic Mobile.  April 2012.  Web.  14 May 2012.]