Luxury Brands Reluctant To Embrace Online Shoppers May End Up Paying The Ultimate Price

While most affluent buyers still prefer going to high-end stores to shop the old fashioned way, the convenience of online shopping is starting to take hold amongst the wealthy.

Unity Marketing has released a new report, entitled Affluents Online: A Generational Perspective, that explores how affluents are using the internet today and predicts their future behavior.

Their research suggests that the tide is rapidly turning as affluent shoppers are beginning to embrace the convenience and overall experience that online retail gives them. Unity’s study makes a strong case that even stubborn affluent shoppers recognize the changing landscape of retail as online shopping gets more robust and inclusive to their needs.

This report sharply contrasts research done by the Luxury Institute that discovered that the majority of affluent shoppers not only avoid making big-ticket purchases on the internet but few take the time to research their purchases online before going out to buy an item from a retail store. This suggests that there are sure to be some old-school holdouts that enjoy the human interaction of shopping in person and the immediate gratification that comes with walking out of a store with their new goods.

Not all luxury retailers are on board though

In an attempt to maintain exclusivity and brand protection from frequent knock-offs, many high-end brands have been reluctant thus far to roll out their glitzy wares on the internet.

McKinsey & Co., a trusted consulting firm and counselor to many of the world’s most influential businesses, believes it’s a mistake for luxury brands to do anything other than adopt and embrace the online channel as not only a driver of sales, but as an influencer for in-store purchases that follow.

So what was the game changer?


After smartphone purchases opened the door for online growth more and more big-ticket items followed. In fact, according to McKinsey & Co. the largest segment in the global luxury goods market in 2014 came from e-commerce purchases.  (Tripling from 2 percent of luxury sales in 2009 to 6 percent last year).

It seems clear that luxury retailers who hesitate to embrace the online sales arena now are destined to fall behind their competitors who are.

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