July 18, 2008, 12:00 AM

Wealthy consumers research online, but only buy certain items in person

64% of wealthy consumers go to web sites of providers they know when researching pricey items, making those sites the most relied-on source of information, a study by Luxury Institute says. But there’s a limit to how much such shoppers will spend online.


Wealthy consumers use the web extensively to research luxury goods, but there’s a limit to how much they will spend online, according to a new survey by Luxury Institute.

64% say they go to web sites of companies they know for information about high-end items, making it the most common way to research purchases, followed by advices from friends and relatives at 57%.

Search engines come next at 53%, with Google dominating that category. In fact, the Google search engine was the most mentioned first stop web site for information on luxury goods, cited by 13%, far ahead of second place Consumer Reports at 3%.

38% say they read online ratings and reviews. Of those, 22% say they post their own ratings and reviews. Only 7% of respondents say they rely on blogs for information about luxury goods.

While these consumers research online, many of them will only buy certain products in person. These include cars, cited by 73% of respondents, luxury jewelry (61%) and fashion apparel (38%). "These highly tactile, big-ticket luxury items are generally better experienced rather than simply presented on a website," says Milton Pedraza, CEO of Luxury Institute, a membership organization for organizations that cater to affluent consumers.

On average, the wealthy consumers surveyed said they were comfortable spending up to $3,294 online.

The Luxury Institute surveyed 800 individuals with household incomes of at least $150,000 early this year. Respondents had an average household income of $287,000 and net worth of $2.9 million.


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