According to a recent comScore survey, consumers spent a
whopping $42.3 billion in online shopping during November and December, up 14% over
2011. And if that bit of holiday cheer isn't enough, another study, this one by
analytics company ForeSee, found that more luxury brand customers are
using mobile to buy products digitally than non-luxury brand customers. So, as
ForeSee sees it, this opens up significant opportunities for mindful luxury
brands to cash in throughout 2013.
"Mobile is a huge area of opportunity for any retailer, but
particularly for a luxury brand," says Eric Feinberg, senior director of
mobile, media and entertainment at ForeSee. "Our study shows that luxury brand
shoppers are already adopting the mobile channel faster than non-luxury brand
shoppers. It's now up to those retailers to deliver what luxury consumers want
from mobile in order to keep them coming back to the brand and to influence
purchases across all channels."
The ForeSee survey found that luxury shoppers are "more
mobile," with 59% of luxury brand shoppers saying they have used mobile to
interact with a company compared to 42% of overall shoppers. Also, 56% of
luxury brand shoppers use their mobile phone to research products compared to
40% of overall shoppers; 24% of luxury brand shoppers use their mobile phones
to comparison shop in person in a store, compared to 18% of overall shoppers;
25% of luxury brand shoppers go mobile when making a purchase, compared to 16%
of overall shoppers; and 13% of luxury brand shoppers use retailer-developed
mobile apps to shop, compared to 10% of overall shoppers.
The survey also found that 38% of luxury brand shoppers used
their mobile phones to interact with a company during the recent holiday
season, compared to 29% of non-luxury brand shoppers. However, the non-luxury
brand shoppers reported a slightly better satisfaction level interacting via
mobile, by 80 to 78 on the survey's satisfaction index. Of luxury brand
shoppers, 36% used a mobile device to shop this holiday season, while 25% of
non-luxury brand shoppers did. Those satisfaction levels were almost equal at
77 and 78, respectively.
The top two luxury brands in terms of online satisfaction on
ForeSee's index are Tiffany & Co. and Coach, both with scores of 80, but
close behind are Saks Fifth Avenue and Nordstrom with scores of 79 each; Hugo
Boss, Tory Burch and Burberry with scores of 78 each; and Ralph Lauren and
Neiman Marcus with scores of 77 each. Rounding out the top 10 is Brooks
Brothers with a score of 76.
The ForeSee survey found, however, that even the best luxury
sites are not measuring up to the best and most satisfying customer online
experience. Amazon continues to set the standard with an index rating of 88.
Luxury retailers have some catching up to do with mainstream
retailers, says Larry Freed, president and CEO of ForeSee, who authored the
luxury brands study.
So what is the profile of the luxury brand customer? What
are the characteristics they exhibit that can give luxury brand marketers and
their media buying and planning agencies some insight into their shopping
The survey finds that regular customers of luxury sites are
more satisfied than first-time visitors or visitors who come to a site only
rarely. Thirty-six percent of those surveyed said they visit a site at least
once a month and their satisfaction index was 81. Another 25% said they visit a
site several times a year and their satisfaction level was 79. The other 39%
who visited a site for the first time had a satisfaction index of 73. So
motivating shoppers to visit sites more frequently seems to improve their
confidence and satisfaction levels.
Motivating consumers through marketing to visit a luxury
brand website to make a purchase rather than just browse and do research also leads
to a higher satisfaction level. The survey found that 39% of visitors to a
luxury website are coming to make a purchase and they have a satisfaction level
of 81, compared to 41% who visit a site to research a product and posted a
satisfaction level of 76.
Among those who research for luxury brand product
preference, 65% research and buy products online, 22% research online and make
their purchases in-store, 6% research in store and purchase in-store and 4%
research in-store and purchase online.
The survey found that pricing might not be the most
overwhelming factor in motivating luxury brand shoppers to make a purchase or
tout a website to friends and family. The survey also found that while customer
satisfaction is key, many elements go into creating an overall impression of
satisfaction, including the merchandise offered, the content of the site and
its functionality, as well as the price.
While 41% of luxury shoppers said they did not make a purchase
because the price was too high, ForeSee said brands should not overreact to
that just because it is what customers complain loudest about. In the long run,
ForeSee concludes that 71% of luxury sites would get more "brand for their buck"
if they improved merchandise, and 43% will see more return on investment from
improving site functionality.
How important is a satisfied luxury brand shopper? The
survey found that a highly satisfied luxury website visitor is: 69% more likely
to recommend that site to others; 76% more likely to buy online; 65% more
committed to the brand overall; 69% more likely to buy the brand offline as
well; 65% more likely to make a return to the site; and 71% more likely to make
a purchase next time they visit the site.
Conversely, a dissatisfied luxury brand shopper is: 41% less
likely to recommend the site; 43% less likely to buy online; 39% less committed
to the brand overall; 41% less likely to buy the brand offline; 40% less likely
to return to the site; and 42% less likely to make a purchase next time.
ForeSee tells brands that if they don't measure the customer
experience, they won't be able to manage it. The analytics company also says
brands should measure success from the customers' perspective in addition to
the organization's. Another comment from ForeSee: Mobile is creating
unprecedented power for the consumer, and customer satisfaction drives
conversion, loyalty, retention and word-of-mouth publicity, all of which can lead
to more financial success for brands.
ForeSee polled 3,500 shoppers for the survey and
the data was compiled in November and December of 2012. The satisfaction index
is based on a 100-point scale.