Affluent Americans see mobile shopping apps as “innovative” and “cutting edge,” and are likely to use them to buy high-end brands, according to a recent study by the Luxury Institute.
Nearly one-third of wealthy Americans who download apps to their smartphones use the apps to shop, compare brands and find store locations, said the Institute, which describes itself as the independent global voice of the high-end consumer.
The top shopping apps downloaded by the affluent, who earned $150,000 or more a year, included apps for high-end brands such as BMW, Mercedes-Benz, Ralph Lauren, Louis Vuitton, Chanel and iLuxury. Affluent consumers used the apps primarily to click through to a website, communicate with others or locate a store. More than half used the luxury apps to look up a product or service and 30 percent made purchases via a cell-phone app. Forty percent of the affluent downloaded travel apps and 39 percent business-related apps.
“We are near a tipping point where mobile devices will replace the laptop for many activities and transactions and luxury brands are racing to be a step ahead,” said the institute in a report called “Wealth and Luxury Trends 2011 and Beyond.”
Mobile devices are being used to take customers through video- and audio-enhanced sales presentation, enter customer information and search inventories. Customers can also opt to have their own mobile devices announce their arrival at a store.
“Mobile devices combine personalization efficiency and effectiveness with an unprecedented touch of caring and nurturing that are the Holy Grail of a true luxury experience,” the white paper said. “Look for lots of activity in this nascent, but promising area in 2011.”
Affluent smartphone users were similar to less wealthy smartphone users in that they most often downloaded apps for news, weather and gaming. The affluent smartphone users spent an average of $84 on apps in past year and were willing to pay up to $4.99 for an app. They use an average of seven apps on a regular basis.
To capture the attention of these wealthy consumers, Rolex has released an $11.99 app that makes its 100 Years of Rolex book available on a mobile platform, the Institute notes, and Tiffany recently launched an app for finding the perfect engagement ring
A recent survey by Accenture found that 26 percent of the most active mobile device users in the U.S. are interested in using their smartphones to make payments. They express this interest even though 73 percent of all respondents, who represented 11 countries, said they had serious concerns about security and privacy.
“Mobile commerce – which encompasses mobile banking, such as checking balances or paying bills over a mobile phone, plus coupons, promotions, redeemable gift cards, loyalty points and more – is poised to drive huge changes in the way we shop and pay for goods and services,” said Andy Zimmerman, director of mobility services at Accenture, in a prepared statement.
As early as 2009 The Luxury Institute measured a trend for wealthy consumers to embrace social networking and use Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter to visit social shopping sites and to join groups based around a product, service or brand.
“Our research indicates strong participation among wealthy consumers in all key evolving areas of social networking,” said Milton Pedraza, the Institute’s CEO. “… it is clear that social networks will serve as central and irreversible conduits for consumer-to-consumer and consumer-to-provider cooperation and value creation in the near future.”