Even as shoppers flock to the the Internet to get the skinny on everything they want to buy, many wealthy patrons still prefer the traditional method. They want to go to shops, peruse the racks, and have a salesperson help them pick out the perfect item, according to a new survey.
Research and advisory firm the Luxury Institute surveyed 1,600 wealthy people about their shopping habits. The men and women earn at least $150,000 a year and boast an average net worth of $2.9 million. The study found that very few affluent shoppers research exactly what they want to buy, then go out and make the purchase. Instead, they'd rather walk around a store and see things up close. Plus, many insist on guidance from living, breathing humans.
"Luxury experts and luxury executives have bought into the myth that, whether its millennials or men or women, they've done so much research on the Internet that they can no longer be influenced in the store," says Milton Pedraza, chief executive of the Luxury Institute. "This demonstrates the tremendous opportunity to create relationships based on expertise, trust, and generosity in the store."
For instance, when buying jewelry, nearly half of women don't do any research whatsoever before heading to the store, preferring to gaze at all the shiny baubles in glass cases and make their decisions on the spot. This number's even higher when it comes to fashion accessories, with 60 percent of women opting to forgo online research before snagging a pricey handbag.
The only exceptions are men who want to buy a watch, with 28 percent selecting the specific item beforehand, and women who are purchasing beauty products, at 26 percent. That's because buyers of expensive watches are often aficionados wholly familiar with the world of fancy timepieces, while makeup purchases usually occur to replenish items that were used up.
Though visiting stores without help is the most popular method of researching what to buy, many affluent shoppers prefer the guided path, with aid from a salesperson. Men especially want help picking out watches and jewelry, while women are most likely to want an associate's expertise on beauty products. Perhaps those workers behind the counter may stay relevant after all.
For salespeople, the perpetual quest to "sell" the customer is a model that no longer works, says Pedraza. Shoppers go to them for knowledge and guidance, not having products shoved in their faces. For this, luxury retailers must train workers to build real, human relationships over time.
"If you earn their trust, you earn the right to contact them again," he says.
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