Gen Y Speeds Up Luxury Goods Spending [Study]

Flash sale sites and the fashion industry’s maturing web presence boost sales to young consumers

eMarketer notes: As Generation Y grows up and gains more buying power, the 18- to 34-year-old age group is increasingly purchasing luxury goods. According to a survey by American Express Business Insights, Gen Y consumers upped spending on premium, full-priced luxury goods by 31% in 2011 over the prior year. Generation X followed Gen Y in terms of spending growth—climbing 23% from 2010.

Change in Spending on Full-Priced Luxury Goods According to US Online Luxury Buyers, by Generation, 2011 (% change vs. prior year)

Joining the workforce and earning higher wages has surely contributed to Gen Y’s purchasing appetite. Yet it can also be assumed, based on the American Express data, that online discount luxury websites—or flash sales—stimulated young consumers’ desire for luxury fashion products. In other words, Gen Y’s early adoption of flash sale ecommerce shopping has paved the way for full-price luxury purchasing. In addition, according to the American Express study, seniors now exhibit a growing appetite for flash sale merchandise.

Change in Spending on Online Luxury Flash-Sales Websites According to US Online Luxury Buyers, by Generation, 2011 (% change vs. prior year)

When shopping for luxury goods, young, digital-savvy consumers are frequently turning to ecommerce sites and other webpages for product research and purchases. A November 2011 study by customer experience management company Empathica indicates luxury goods shoppers visited company websites slightly more often than they did companies’ brick-and-mortar locations. Moreover, almost half of luxury buyers told Emphathica that they read online reviews and 14% visited social media websites prior to purchase.

Ways that Luxury Buyers* in North America Have Interacted with Retailers or Brands Prior to Purchase, by Gender, Nov 2011 (% of respondents)

The Empathica findings demonstrate that the web and ecommerce make up a significant portion of the luxury shopping experience. Partly because Gen Y consumers are demanding a digital presence among sellers, luxury retailers are steadily rising to provide one.