MILAN — Brick and mortar sales still tower over e-commerce when it comes to luxury fashion goods.
A worldwide study of 25 brands, involving 6,400 consumers across four continents, found that 82 percent bought luxury fashion goods primarily in stores, while only 16 percent preferred buying online. The study conducted by the LuxHub, a strategic consulting practice of Havas, explained that 89 percent of offline consumers are motivated by the touch and feel of exclusive products, while 32 percent cited the shopping experience as important. Online shoppers, meanwhile, are first attracted by the bargains they find, followed by the convenience of tapping or clicking what they want.
This said, luxury fashion houses and retailers do well to keep pumping digital and other cross-channel content, as the LuxHub found 40 percent of traditional sales are strongly influenced by online advertising and web editorial. The path to purchase almost always winds through consumer interactions with websites, print advertising and word of mouth, particularly in the Middle East and Chinese markets, where the majority say they know exactly what they want before stepping foot in a store to buy it. This is true for 78 percent of consumers in China and 64 percent in the Middle East, respectively. Millennials also show a particularly holistic approach, assessing a huge amount of cross-platform content before settling on a purchase.
Meanwhile, many luxury brands’ conviction that emotion drives purchases could be threatened by LuxHub’s finding that reason drives most consumers to buy. The the number-one motive for buying a luxury good is self-reward, at 51 percent of the time, followed by a special sale or particularly convenient price, at 48 percent. In China and the Middle East, consumers also tend to buy when they travel, when new collections are launched and for religious or national holidays.
The top six means of boosting brand awareness and intention to buy were boutique experience at 61.3 percent, boutique windows at 60.8 percent, official brand websites at 54.7 percent, face-to-face opinions of friends and family at 52.1 percent, search engines at 45.8 percent and online fashion publications at 43.5 percent. LuxHub cautioned that the weight of each of these “touchpoints” varied by market. For example, social media and especially social customer relationship management activities are more significant in the Middle East and China than in the U.S. or Europe.
The Luxury Customer Journey is the first global observatory of its kind by LuxHub.