Shopping and (Sometimes) Buying Online

It’s no surprise that wealthy people tend to be comfortable shopping online, since working online is how some of them now get wealthy in the first place. But a survey by the Luxury Institute, conducted among Americans with annual household income of at least $150,000, finds considerable variation among luxury categories in their comfort level with actually doing the transaction online.

Sixty-four percent of the survey’s respondents said they “go directly to Web sites of known providers for information on luxury goods and services.” Fifty-three percent consider search engines “an essential stop on their quest” for such goods and services.

When it comes to closing the deal, though, these consumers often want to do it in the flesh. Seventy-three percent said they are “only comfortable closing automobile transactions at a showroom”; 61 percent said they’d buy real estate or luxury jewelry only in person. The numbers who must do the deal in person are lower when it comes to buying fashion apparel (38 percent), and lower still for booking travel (11 percent).

Along with the nature of the product or service, the amount of money involved is a factor in determining whether well-to-do consumers are willing to complete the transaction online. Half the respondents said they’d be comfortable spending up to $1,000 on an online purchase; 14 percent said they’d feel fine about spending more than $10,000 in this fashion. “The average comfort threshold for online purchases by wealthy consumers is $3,294.”