Luxury Institute News

April 26, 2012

Customer Experience is New Luxury Battleground

Cadillac institutes cultural initiatives to improve customer service

(DETROIT) April 25, 2012 – The fierce competition between luxury automotive brands extends beyond artfully designed, high-tech new products. It’s about capturing the hearts and minds of affluent customers before product or price enter the equation.

“While we’ve performed fairly well in customer service, we sensed a bigger opportunity,” said Kurt McNeil, vice president of Cadillac Sales and Service. “We call the approach Defining Moments – the fact that every interaction with a customer can potentially define our brand.”

Spurred by the brand’s ongoing momentum in product and marketing, Cadillac gained insights from outside the automotive space to enhance its approach to customer experience.

“Cadillac is the real thing when it comes to the products, and its approach to the cultural aspects of the luxury customer experience,” said Milton Pedraza,  founder and CEO of the Luxury Institute,

The institute conducts extensive research on affluent consumer behaviors. One of Pedraza’s key findings is that today’s luxury consumers have countless options for desirable products, placing more value on experiences.

“To earn credibility among luxury customers, brands not only have to offer the best products, but they must also be kind and provide an overall positive purchasing experience,” said Pedraza. “The opportunity for luxury brands not only lies in out-performing the competition, but also out-behaving the competition.”

Cadillac began “Defining Moments” training for internal and dealership staff was co-developed with the Ritz-Carlton. Famed for excellence in customer service, Ritz-Carlton team members maintain a consistent global culture at all levels devoted to earning guest loyalty.

“The training was important because it showed that luxury customer experiences are built on the culture and the behavior of people,” McNeil says. “It’s not about programs or discount offers. Great service comes from ordinary people delivering excellence at all levels.”

While emphasizing new cultural approaches, Cadillac has supported that with upgrades to what can be seen and experienced physically. Hundreds of dealers are rebuilding or renovating dealerships. Cadillac has redesigned consumer websites and instituted specific standards for local dealer advertising. For example, Cadillac Shield is a set of ownership benefits that includes complimentary roadside assistance from a Cadillac technician, and Cadillac courtesy transportation programs for cars being serviced.

“With Cadillac expanding in 2012 with two all-new products, it’s a perfect opportunity to prepare to welcome new guests,” says McNeil.

Cadillac has earned steady increases in consumer and industry satisfaction surveys, ranking among the top brands in many measures of customer satisfaction.

The brand was recently recognized as a 2012 Customer Service Champion by J.D. Power and Associates. The luxury automaker was one of only 50 companies out of 800 studied to earn the distinction. The 2012 Champions were identified based on customer feedback, opinions, and perceptions gathered primarily from J.D. Power’s syndicated research in 2011.

http://media.gm.com/media/us/en/cadillac/news.detail.html/content/Pages/news/us/en/2012/Apr/0425_cadillac

April 24, 2012

Wealthy U.S. Consumers Favor and Feel More Connected to Luxury Brands Offering a Mobile App

(NEW YORK) April 24, 2012 – The independent and objective New York City-based Luxury Institute, in cooperation with award-winning mobile marketing agency Plastic Mobile, surveyed affluent U.S. consumers about the growing connection between luxury and the emerging mobile market. The results of their research have just been released in the study, “Mobile Apps And Commerce for Luxury Brands.”

“Luxury brands must acknowledge the impact of technology advancements in the mobile space and find a humanistic way to connect and engage with their consumers through mobile,” says Milton Pedraza, CEO of Luxury Institute.

Gucci, Louis Vuitton, Saks Fifth Avenue, and Gilt Groupe are the most frequently downloaded apps by wealthy consumers who have luxury brand applications on their mobile device. Most affluent smartphone owners who are downloading luxury apps are using them to find information on products, services or brands (56%).

Almost all wealthy consumers who have used luxury brand apps report that they have had a good experience with the mobile apps (93%). In addition, 71% report that they feel better connected to luxury brands after downloading and/or using their applications and 64% view luxury brands that offer a mobile application more favorably than brands that do not.

The survey respondents indicate there are a number of features they expect from luxury brand applications and highlight loyalty programs (46%) and early access to sales (45%) as the most important.  In addition, providing sales professionals with a mobile application that can specify details about products (53%), have the ability to check for sizes and availability at other stores (50%) and in-store product inventory (47%) would enrich the luxury shopping experience for affluent consumers.

Of the 63% of wealthy consumers who have made a purchase through their mobile device, just under 20% have bought a luxury product or service. While preference for the in-store experience (45%) is why wealthy smartphone users have not yet fully embraced luxury mobile commerce, the majority of luxury consumers who choose to shop via mobile report that there is no upper monetary limit to how much they would spend (72%). This indicates a tremendous emerging opportunity for luxury brands to connect with consumers through mobile.

“Mobile has been receiving a lot attention in the retail space lately. The study suggests the mobile strategy for luxury brands must be about enhancing the in-store customer experience and using the platform to help strengthen customer relationships,” says Melody Adhami, President and COO of Plastic Mobile.

About Luxury Institute (www.LuxuryInstitute.com)
The Luxury Institute is the objective and independent global voice of the high net-worth consumer. The Institute conducts extensive and actionable research with wealthy consumers about their behaviors and attitudes on customer experience best practices. In addition, we work closely with top-tier luxury brands to successfully transform their organizational cultures into more profitable customer-centric enterprises. Our Luxury CRM Culture consulting process leverages our fact-based research and enables luxury brands to dramatically Outbehave as well as Outperform their competition. The Luxury Institute also operates LuxuryBoard.com, a membership-based online research portal, and the Luxury CRM Association, a membership organization dedicated to building customer-centric luxury enterprises.

About Plastic Mobile
Plastic Mobile is an award-winning mobile marketing agency of thinkers, artists, creators and builders with one common aspiration: to create extraordinary user experiences. Plastic Mobile is at the heart of the evolution of interactive mobile technology, pushing the boundaries and setting the bar for the standard of quality.

Known for many quality, first-in-kind mobile initiatives, Plastic Mobile delivers exceptional client service and highly customized mobile solutions for all platforms. With a diverse, high-profile client list, including Air Miles, Axe and Royal Le Page, they are the proud recipients of myriad awards, including the 15th annual Webby shopping award, “the Oscars of the Internet.” www.plasticmobile.com

April 17, 2012

Most Wealthy Americans Concerned About Maintaining Memory, Eyesight and Weight as They Age; Women Worry About Wrinkles as Much as Health, but Few Go for Cosmetic Surgery or Botox

(NEW YORK) Apr 16, 2012 — In its latest WealthSurvey, “Age Obsession,” the New York City-based Luxury Institute, in cooperation with skincare brand ReVive, asked U.S. consumers earning at least $150,000 per year about their attitudes on aging and what they’ve done to make them feel younger — from spending money on vitamins and chemical peels to products that restore hair or sexual prowess.

More than half (53%) of wealthy Americans say that the pursuit of better health and a more youthful appearance have prompted them to spend money on some type of anti-aging regimen, which can range from simply maintaining a healthy diet to liposuction.

The tendency to obsess on the effects of aging decreases with age, and is significantly more pronounced in women. Women are more than twice as likely as men (67% vs. 32%) to have engaged in some form of anti-aging routine, either presently or in the past. Gender disparities are also particularly notable when it comes to eating healthy foods (76% vs. 55%), getting adequate sleep (58% vs. 41%) and drinking moderately or not at all (53% vs. 39%).

Memory (59%), eyesight (54%) and weight management (53%) are the top aging-related concerns of both men and women. Women are substantially more likely than men to name wrinkles (59% vs. 21%) or skin elasticity (55% vs. 18%) as top aging-related concerns. Females are also much more likely than men to spend money on upkeep of appearance, such as coloring their hair (58% vs. 9%), using over-the-counter anti-aging products (41% vs. 5%), paying for skin resurfacing therapies (10% vs. 2%), receiving injections like Botox (8% vs. 1%) or undergoing cosmetic surgical procedures such as liposuction or a facelift (4% vs. 1%). Men show more concern than women with hair loss, and 5% of wealthy men have tried grafts, transplants or medication to grow back lost hair, compared to 3% of women.

Most wealthy Americans hold healthy and realistic notions about aging, with 78% saying that a person is “only as old as they feel,” and 71% saying, “age is just a number.” Nonetheless, many feel the pressure to look younger: 58% of respondents identify a youthful appearance as important in achieving professional success, and 68% say that there is more pressure to appear youthful than there was in prior generations. Women are far more likely to feel this pressure than men (81% vs. 54%), but they seem a bit more pleased with their progress in the battle against aging: 72% of women say that they look younger than their age, and 62% of men say they do. Only 12% of both sexes say that they look older than their age.

“The anti-aging market is similar in many ways to luxury retail, because consumers who pay premium prices for better food or membership at an exclusive health club are the same consumers shopping for premium merchandise at places like Nordstrom and Saks,” says Milton Pedraza, CEO of the Luxury Institute. “Companies who market youth to the wealthy have a rich opportunity to tap into a powerful set of demographics and psychographics that never goes away.”

“As a forerunner in the luxury skincare industry, it was significant for ReVive to participate in this survey to garner insight and attitudes on aging, and understand what participants value in their pursuit to look and feel younger,” states Claudia Poccia, CEO and President, Gurwitch Products, L.L.C. “As a brand created by a plastic surgeon, the results of this survey suggest and support the demand for products with the cutting-edge beauty advancements.”

Respondents had a median income of $233,000 per year and a median net worth of $1.3 million.

About Luxury Institute (www.LuxuryInstitute.com)
The Luxury Institute is the objective and independent global voice of the high net-worth consumer. The Institute conducts extensive and actionable research with wealthy consumers about their behaviors and attitudes on customer experience best practices. In addition, we work closely with top-tier luxury brands to successfully transform their organizational cultures into more profitable customer-centric enterprises. Our Luxury CRM Culture consulting process leverages our fact-based research and enables luxury brands to dramatically Outbehave as well as Outperform their competition. The Luxury Institute also operates LuxuryBoard.com, a membership-based online research portal, and the Luxury CRM Association, a membership organization dedicated to building customer-centric luxury enterprises.

Big spenders haven’t gone away

By Sarah Treleaven
Business without Borders
April 16, 2012

Elaine, a stockbroker from Long Island, is eating a freshly baked scone with clotted cream in the Panorama Lounge on a luxury Silversea cruise ship bound for Sydney, Australia. She’s happy to reveal that she paid more than $10,000 for this particular voyage. Charles, another cruiser and an “investor,” loves karaoke, wears fine leather loafers without socks and lives on Hong Kong’s Peak, some of the most expensive real estate in the world. Yet another guest is the former director of Heinz U.K. A scan of nameplates reveals a lord and lady. The demographic skews older, late 60s and 70s, and the money appears abundant.

Meanwhile, at the beautiful new Mandarin Oriental Paris, with subtle pink butterfly and Lalique crystal accents, a significant number of young faces check into the $1,000 euro-a-night rooms and gather for a coupe de Champagne in the serene courtyard just off fashionable Rue Saint-Honore. And at Galleries Lafayette, one of Paris’ ornate “grand magasins,” young Chinese tourists line up behind velvet stanchions awaiting entrance to the Longchamp and Louis Vuitton boutiques.

The luxury category has officially rebounded. After a recessionary contraction, luxury brands such as LVMH are reporting double-digit growth. But the new luxury spending is being driven by young consumers rather than old money. A February report by American Express Business Insights (AEBI) says that Generation Y shoppers (aged 18 to 34) increased their spending on full-price luxury fashion by 33% and luxury jewelry by 27% in 2011, the biggest gains in spending for any age group.

Milton Pedraza, CEO of The Luxury Institute, a New York-based consultancy, isn’t surprised by these results. He said that luxury consumption is often driven by younger generations eager to create a certain perception. “They’re in the career-building and mate-finding years, and they’re interested in creating status with the right hand bag and shoes,” said Pedraza. “But when you get a little older, you get a little more sophisticated and you’re less interested in material goods. I’m 54 and I drive a BMW I paid for in cash 11 years ago and I don’t care.”

Pedraza noted that this new spending is somewhat more conscientious than it used to be. Prior to the recession, Gen Y consumers were also buying by the bucket load and racking up credit card bills to meet their indulgences. Pedraza said these consumers have since become more debt-conscious and discerning, if not exactly bargain-hunting. “Now, instead of buying three or four handbags, they might buy one for two-thirds of the value of all four put together.”

This trend is being replicated outside the United States, particularly in emerging markets. In China, where the growing number of millionaires tends to skew younger, about 45% of Chinese shoppers who buy luxury goods are ages 18 to 34, compared with 37% in Japan and 28% in Britain. Similar trends are being observed in Russia, Brazil and more affluent parts of the Middle East. Egypt and India, with impressive growth rates and very young populations, are being closely watched. Pedraza estimated that as much as 50% of luxury spending in the major capitals of Europe is by visitors from emerging markets.

Ed Jay, senior vice president at American Express Business Insights said that luxury retailers should be paying attention to the unique buying habits of these young consumers. “Gen Y consumers are…more spontaneous and frequently experiment and explore new brands,” he said. “These spending habits stand in direct contrast with those of the traditional luxury consumer, who are characterized by more consistent spending behavior and brand loyalty.”

Luxury retailers would be wise to start wooing these young consumers with superior service, said Pedraza. “Apple reinvented the retail store, Zappos reinvented online sales and people have started asking why luxury brands aren’t doing the same,” he said. “Luxury brands have a reputation for being really arrogant and snobby, like a velvet rope at a nightclub. That mentality is being slowly weeded out.”

http://www.businesswithoutborders.com/industries/consumer-goods/big-spenders-havent-gone-away/

April 13, 2012

Luxury Apps Pamper High-End Shoppers

By Paul O’Donnell
CNBC
April 12, 2012

Luxury retailers inhabit an elegantly lit world of richly paneled walls, sleek stone floors and plush goods. For them and their upscale customers, digital commerce is a foreign land, full of flashing offers prompting consumers to download a — gasp! — printable coupon.

Slowly, however, high-end merchants like Neiman Marcus and luxury brands like Burberry and Stella McCartney are adapting to the new virtual shopping scene, incorporating mobile apps, “augmented reality” and iPad link-ups that extend, rather than sully, the plush experience of their stores.

Last month Neiman Marcus introduced a pilot program called NM Service, an app that lets shoppers know which of their favorite clerks are on the floor when they arrive. The app can also be used to make appointments remotely with salespeople or pick out the items that interest them before they get to the store.

Neiman’s new mobile strategy, which imitates a system long available at Apple stores, is being praised as a cutting-edge move for a luxury retailer into SoLoMo marketing — social, local and mobile. “The consumer these days is a moving target,” says Scott Forshay, strategist for mobile and emerging technologies for Acquity Group in Austin, Texas. “How do we engage them while they are out there in the world?”

It’s a difficult question for a sector that is used to making its sales by luring customers into its opulent, carefully controlled environments. Even as the rest of the public has shifted its buying online, high-end brands have been insulated from technology trends by their relatively older, late-adopting demographic.

But ignoring the tech revolution is a luxury, so to speak, upscale brands can no longer afford. A study conducted earlier this year by The Luxury Institute showed that 60 percent of high net worth individuals own smartphones, and of those, 67 percent used them to shop. Eighty percent had downloaded an app.

And that’s just the Boomers, who make the bulk of expensive purchases today. The fastest growing segment of affluent shoppers are the group that marketers call the Millennials. Now in their early 20s, they are known for their desire to be digitally connected, a passion they expect their favorite brands to share.

“The customer is leading the shift,” says Wanda Gierhart, chief marketing officer for the Neiman Marcus Group, who helped develop the new app with the Silicon Valley firm Signature. In the next decade, she says, “it’s the customers who will be doing the marketing. They are going to do the communicating about our brands.”

As in other e-pursuits, from reading the news to playing Angry Birds, apps have become the primary conduit of sales. Another study, by the St. Louis digital marketing firm Moosylvania, showed that more than 20 percent of smartphone owners had downloaded at least 30 apps—more than half of them for free. “The number of free apps on people’s phones is an indicator that downloading them gets easier and more familiar every day,” says Moosylvania’s founder and CEO Norty Cohen.

The challenge is to reinterpret digital commerce for the luxury customer. The high-end home-appliance manufacturer Jenn-Air has developed an app for the iPhone that lets consumers upload photos of their kitchens and replace their stoves and refrigerators with images of Jenn-Air products. Sotheby’s International Realty’s free app shows nearby restaurants, wineries, and other amenities with each property listing. “It’s about tying into the consumer’s lifestyle,” says Cohen.

The fit can be less than seamless. The token of virtual shopping today is the blotchy, black-and-white, scannable square called a QR code. It is useful for beaming information about products straight from an in-store display or magazine page to customers’ smartphone, but, Forshay notes, “QR codes were designed in Japanese automotive plants to keep track of parts. To translate that into luxury is a quantum leap.” Special offers and price breaks that lure mass consumers have little power over the wealthy.

Instead, say mobile-marketing experts, what affluent shoppers value most is access. In a pioneering 2010 campaign, Burberry handed customers iPads which they could use to watch video of exclusive fashion shows and, if they saw something they liked, order items straight off the catwalk.

The best luxury digital plays, in other words, may be the ones most people never hear about. Forshay imagines stores pinging loyal customers to invite them to private trunk shows or to meet their favorite label’s creative director. “You’re seducing people with product, but also experience,” he says. “You’re taking them on a journey.”

http://www.cnbc.com/id/47024583

April 9, 2012

How Luxury Brands Can Prepare for Affluent Millennials

By Duke Greenhill
Mashable
April 8, 2012

Echo Boomers. Generation Y. Millennials. No matter what you call them, shoppers between 18 to 29 years old are the fastest-growing luxury consumer segment. In 2011, they spent 31% more on luxury purchases than they did the year before, and they did it at full price. Compare that to Baby Boomers, who only saw a paltry 28% growth in spending, and purchased the bulk of their luxury goods on discounted flash-sale sites.

Not surprisingly, by 2015, Millennials are expected to be the largest consumer demographic and nearly a third of the U.S. population. As the founder of one of New York’s top luxury branding and marketing consultancies, I hear a lot of chatter about how luxury brands will soon have to adapt to this market change. What these statistics should really signal is the need for luxury brands to start adapting their strategies now. Below are three key shifts to keep in mind when preparing for the dawn of the luxury-loving Millennial…

Click the link to read the entire article: http://mashable.com/2012/04/07/luxury-brands-millennials/

April 7, 2012

PPR, Balenciaga leverage public awareness through museum exhibit

By Tricia Carr
Luxury Daily
April 6, 2012

French conglomerate PPR Group will join the House of Balenciaga to sponsor a museum exhibition called “Cristóbal Balenciaga, Collectionneur de Modes” in Paris that presents the heritage of Balenciaga through historical clothing items and the designer’s life story.

Beginning April 13, the exhibit will be displayed at the at the Docks – Cité de la Mode et du Design through October. The exhibit will showcase one of PPR’s fashion house’s timeless appeal through a historical fashion collection that honors the late designer, Cristóba Balenciaga.

“I think supporting these gallery exhibitions is the right way to spend PPR’s marketing funds that are for nonprofit endeavors,” said Milton Pedraza, CEO of the Luxury Institute, New York.

“It is a great way for PPR to invest marketing funds in something that is noncommercial,” he said. “It is a legitimate museum that has great art and history and [the sponsorship] creates wonderful awareness.”

In addition to Balenciaga, PPR brands include Gucci, Bottega Veneta, Yves Saint Laurent, Alexander McQueen, Brioni, Stella McCartney, Sergio Rossi, Boucheron, Girard-Perregaux, JeanRichard, Puma, Volcom, Cobra, Electric, Tretorn and Fnac.

Cristóbal’s couture
Cristóbal Balenciaga, Collectionneur de Modes will pay tribute to the late designer near the 40th anniversary of his death.

The exhibit is one of a series of external exhibits organized by the Galliera Museum.

There will be more than 70 costumes and clothing items and 40 coats and dresses on display that were designed by Mr. Balenciaga between 1937 and 1968.

The pieces in the museum exhibit were gathered from the Galliera’s collection or are on loan from the designer’s family.

“This sponsoring partnership represents another opportunity for PPR to show its support for its fashion houses whose heritage and history are quintessential to their formidable creative impetus,” PPR said in a statement.

“In this way, PPR advocates a vision of fashion that is, at once, sustainable, generous and inspired and which has timeless appeal,” the conglomerate said.

“An exhibition that emphasizes the exceptional heritage and strong identity of the Balenciaga house, especially in Paris where the Balenciaga house was founded in 1936, is of natural interest for both Balenciaga and its parent company PPR.”

Visitors to the exhibit will view items such as casaquins, satin torero costumes, velvet boleros, capes, bustle dresses, cashmere stoles, lace mantillas and samples of embroidery.

Accessories, photographs and the designer’s sketches will also be displayed.

“This exhibit is for affluent, educated consumers to view the art of the most famous fashion designers,” Mr. Pedraza said. “It is an opportunity to educate the public and create awareness and affection for the brand.

“It is what I would call the logical, educational marketing that only a great luxury brand can implement,” he said. “I think it humanizes Mr. Balenciaga and it humanizes the brand.

“It is a powerful combination of these factors.”

Museum manifesto

PPR will leverage itself through this sponsorship by showing its support for its fashion houses, claims the brand.

Museums exhibits seem to be a way for luxury marketers to expose themselves to a highly-educated, affluent audience.

For example, French fashion label Chanel presented a Little Black Jacket exhibit in Tokyo that displayed 113 photographs taken by creative director Karl Lagerfeld from the book “The Little Black Jacket: Chanels classic revisited by Karl Lagerfeld and Carine Roitfeld,” which will release this fall.

Chanel marketed its museum show with an e-exhibition of the photos, behind-the-scenes video footage of the photoshoots and promotion via social media.

In addition, French brand Hermès will open its Hermès Leather Forever exhibit May 8 in London that will emphasize the handcraftsmanship and strong history behind the brand.

“I think PPR and Balenciaga are trying to reach average fans of the brand and fashion, in general, and both men and women,” Mr. Pedraza said. “They’re a very educated set of people who love art, history and fashion.

“What they are doing is wonderful storytelling through the garments and the story of the designer,” he said. “People love to see the story of how these designers evolved.”

http://www.luxurydaily.com/ppr-balenciaga-leverage-public-awareness-through-museum-exhibit/

 

 

April 6, 2012

Make Purchases From Our iPhones? We’d Rather Not, Say the Wealthy

By Lauren Covello
FOXBusiness
April 5, 2012

It’s often said that the rich have the world at their fingertips.

When it comes to shopping, however, it seems they prefer to use their legs.

Sixty percent of wealthy smartphone owners say they rarely or never shop on their mobile phones, according to a new survey released by independent research firm The Luxury Institute. The survey polled individuals who earn $150,000 or more a year and reported an average net worth of $2.8 million.

While the respondents cited several reasons for not indulging in mobile shopping, the biggest reason by far was a preference for the in-store shopping experience. Fifty-one percent said they prefer to touch and feel the products they’re buying than swipe through products on their smartphones.

“They love the in-store experience; some even see it as entertainment,” says Milton Pedraza, CEO of the Luxury Institute…

Click the link to read the entire article which includes additional quotes from Milton Pedraza, CEO of Luxury Institute: http://www.foxbusiness.com/personal-finance/2012/04/05/make-purchases-from-our-iphones-wed-rather-not-say-wealthy/

April 4, 2012

Wealthy Smartphone Users Like Angry Birds and Facebook

By Robert Frank
Wall Street Journal
April 3, 2012

Millionaires don’t get to be millionaires by playing games on their phones right?

Wrong. According a new study from the Luxury Institute, 73% affluent smartphone users (with an average net worth of $2.8 million) used smartphone apps every day. The most frequently downloaded apps for millionaires included Angry Birds, Facebook and Words with Friends.

Of luxury consumers with smartphones, 28% of them own an iPhone, 22% own an Android, 16% own a BlackBerry and 2% own another smartphone, the study said.

Click the link to read the entire article: http://blogs.wsj.com/wealth/2012/04/03/wealthy-smartphone-users-like-angry-birds-and-facebook/

April 3, 2012

Wealthy smartphone users less likely to play games, tweet

Wealthier smartphone users are less likely to play games or tweet and will opt for news, travel or finance apps, according to a new study.

By Natasha Baker
Reuters
April 2, 2012

The research by The Luxury Institute focused on app usage among wealthy consumers, who earn an annual income of $150,000 or more. They tend to be older, with a mean age of 52.

“As you get older and have family and significant others, aging parents, and a lot more assets and investments, you’re going to need apps for far more relevant things than playing games and chatting with your peers,” said Milton Pedraza, CEO of The Luxury Institute.

The findings are in contrast to smartphone usage as a whole, which research firm Nielsen showed is dominated by games and social networking categories.

The wealthy use Facebook and Angry Birds, the two most downloaded apps of 2011, but overall, higher-income consumers use apps for entertainment far less than the average smartphone user, according to Pedraza.

While wealthy consumers are only slightly more likely to have a smartphone than the general population, Nielsen said the breakdown of devices owned differs considerably.

Forty-five percent of wealthy smartphone users own an iPhone, followed 35 percent with an Android device and a quarter who had a Blackberry. But Nielsen found that overall Android had 46 percent of market share, followed by the iPhone with 30 percent and Blackberry with 15 percent.

“Google’s strategy with Android is that they have multiple manufacturing partners,” explained Jonathan Carson, the CEO of digital at Nielsen. “There’s a broader choice with Android in the number of devices, and that may offer some opportunities for lower-end consumers.”

He added that the iPhone has always done quite well with high-income consumers.

Carson also noted an upswing in the number of smartphone users adopting iPhones within the last few months, which he attributes to the iPhone 4S, and Apple’s strategy to keep lower-priced models on the market at lower-price points to appeal to a wider range of consumers.

The study also showed that more than 80 percent of affluent consumers have downloaded apps and many have opted for paid apps and in-app upgrades. But on average, wealthier consumers download about half as many apps as the average consumer.

Among wealthy smartphone users, 67 percent have used their mobile device to shop for products or services online with tickets, gift cards, food or electronics the most popular purchases.

“There are a large number of people that still love to shop in the store, and I don’t think it’s only older people,” Pedraza said, adding apps can augment the in-store experience.

The marketing firm Plastic Mobile polled 603 consumers whose mean income was $295,000 and net worth was $2.8 million for The Luxury Institute study.

http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/04/02/us-app-wealthy-idUSBRE83108920120402