Super Rich Swayed by Social Media, Study Shows

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Stevens, Pa.–A new survey from Unity Marketing shows that it was the wealthiest consumers who were most influenced by social media when making luxury purchases over the past year.
According to the survey, more than half of high net-worth individuals (those with $1 million or more in investible assets) said comments or information gathered from social media influenced what websites they visited (59 percent), what retail stores they shopped in (56 percent) and what designer brand they bought (57 percent).
The survey showed similar results for those classified as ultra affluent (annual income of $250,000 a year or more), with 54 percent stating that social media influenced their website visits, 49 percent stating it influenced where they shopped and 47 percent stating it influenced their brand choice.
“Fashion marketers need to make strategic use of social media to build powerful relationships between their brand and these high-value customers,” Unity Marketing President Pam Danziger said. “That will translate to a shopper’s ‘like’ of a brand or becoming the ‘mayor’ of a retail location into added revenues and profits.”
Unity Marketing conducted the study, titled “The Fashionable Affluent,” between July 6 and 13, surveying affluent consumers (annual income of $100,000 a year or more) who bought luxury goods in the second quarter. For the study, Unity asked the consumers about what influenced their buying decisions, including the role of social media in swaying their purchasing decisions between July 2010 and July 2011.
Overall, 41 percent of those surveyed said social media impacted what websites they chose to visit while 34 percent and 31 percent said it helped them determine where to shop and what brands to buy, respectively.
The survey also showed that, not surprisingly, social media has more of an impact on younger affluents, classified as 24 to 44 years old. More than of half (52 percent) of this group said social media drove them to certain websites, while 45 percent said it influenced their choice of retail stores and 44 percent said social media helped them determine what designer brand to buy.
These numbers dropped to 25 percent, 19 percent and 13 percent, respectively, among mature affluents (ages 45 and older).
Still, Danziger cautions against ignoring the impact of social media among the extremely wealthy.
“Without a doubt, the population using social media skews young, but luxury fashion brands need to be aware that these media are powerful influencers of shoppers with a great deal of discretionary income and high net-worth,” she said.