Study: Half of consumers to buy luxury items in next six months

New York -- Survey results released Tuesday by Accenture found that half of U.S. consumers are likely to make a small luxury purchase in the next six months, including 53% who are likely to purchase specialty food or drinks, 48% to purchase luxury clothing and 48% to purchase luxury personal care products.

According to the Accenture Luxury Shopping Survey, which polled more than 2,000 U.S. adult consumers, splurging on a small luxury is the number one reason consumers buy specialty food or drinks, selected by 53% of those who expect to make these purchases in the coming months.  

Similarly, high-low fashion is the top reason shoppers shop luxury apparel. More than half (57%) of those who intend to purchase luxury apparel will mix a few luxury items into a wardrobe of more affordable clothing.

“As consumers show an increasing willingness to splurge on luxury, retailers and brands can build loyalty by offering a strategic selection of smaller-ticket luxury items to complement their more significant products,” said Tom Jacobson, managing director of the Accenture Pricing & Profit Optimization practice.  

In each of the three small-product categories polled, consumers indicated a strong preference for brick-and-mortar stores when shopping for luxury goods:

  • On average, 36% prefer to shop in a physical store, while 19% prefer to shop online.  
  • Among those likely to purchase luxury food and drink, 50% prefer shopping at specialty grocery stores and 40% like shopping at mass retailers, while only 19% prefer to shop at online-only retailers.
  • The top reason for shopping in physical stores is to see all the choices in person (38%). Nearly a third (30%) of shoppers in this category prefer online retailers to get the best price and one-quarter (25%) value the convenience of online shopping.
  • For those who are likely to make a luxury apparel purchase, more than half (58%) picked department stores as their top choice, compared with only 29% who prefer a department store’s website and 36% who prefer online-only retailers.
  • The top reason given for choosing the physical store is the ability to touch and feel the products, selected by 49%, whereas online retailers are preferred for finding the best deal (37%).
  • Physical stores beat online shopping two-to-one for luxury personal care products (including hair care, skin care and makeup): 44% of shoppers in this category prefer drug stores and 40% prefer department stores, compared with 22% who prefer online-only retailers.

The study also found that showrooming, or viewing a product in a store and then going online to make the purchase, plays an important role in luxury purchases.  In the past six months, one in five consumers visited a store to experience a luxury product in person and then purchased the product online.
 
Additionally, the study found that having access to special deals and bargains through group membership shopping sites has invited more luxury purchases.  Among the 23% of consumers who have bought luxury goods and services from an online group that offers exclusive discounts to members, 58% say these sites have increased their luxury spending.

The Accenture survey identified a number of differences between Millennials and Baby Boomers when it comes to luxury shopping. More than a third (35%) of Millennials indicated their likelihood to purchase luxury goods is up over the past year, while 46% of Baby Boomers indicated their likelihood to purchase luxury goods has decreased in the past year.
 
The survey found quality is ranked the most important factor by 75% of consumers when buying luxury, followed by price at 69%. Only a quarter ranked brand name as most important.

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