News Flash: Rich people continue to like buying things

By Cale Guthrie Weissman , written on June 19, 2013

From The News Desk

Today Martini Media released a report detailing how "affluent shoppers" have effected commerce this Q1. The metric of "affluence," I believe, is people who make more than $100,000 a year. In any case, the results are worth noting, but not surprising: Rich people continue to shop, especially for nicer things.

According to its "Affluent Shopper Index," in comparison to statistics from Q4 2012 to Q1 2013, affluent shoppers continue to outpace regular, normal, everyday shoppers like myself.

Some take-aways: Affluent shoppers spend about 41 percent more on individual purchases, they are 74 percent more likely to purchase on a luxury site, and are 47 percent more likely to make purchases online than regular, normal, everyday shoppers.

All of these stats are coming from digital media and content platform Martini Media. According to its website, Martini Media aims to engage "the audience with the most money and influence online." In other words, affluent people. In addition, Martini claims that it has worked with many large brands to connect with over 125 million (probably affluent) consumers worldwide.

These statistics are interesting when you graft them with recent total ecommerce statistics. According to comScore, ecommerce numbers have been increasingly on the rise. For the past fourteen quarters retail ecommerce sales have been continually growing. Further, this growth has been in the double digits for 10 consecutive quarters; ecommerce spending is right now at $50.2 billion, jumping 13 percent from last quarter.

What Martini focuses on is the fact that the percent change from Q1 2013 went down by one percent. In contrast, the percent in affluent shoppers from Q4 to Q1 continued to rise.

Does this mean that the increase in affluent spending means more companies should cater to these big spenders? I'm not so sure. While it's true the growth eCommerce spending did go down, that could be attributed to a number of things -- not necessarily relating to the divide between "affluent" and "non-affluent."

ComScore chairman Gian Fulgoni believes the recent two percent payroll tax increase may have something to do with this. While some claim this may affect spending, others aren't so sure. According to High Frequency Economics' chief economist Jim O'Sullivan, the tax increase won't necessarily change what people spend but, "will just affect their savings rate." He goes on to add, "it varies from person to person.” So while Martini Media wants to correlate the change in tax the change online sales growth, that might not be the best methodology. In fact, there's really no way to know what it means until a few years from now.

These statistics do highlight, however, the increasing economic shift toward online buying. This isn't surprising in any way, shape, or form. Martini Media wants to remind online merchants that while sales are continually growing, a great deal of these sales come from the one percent.

So should online merchants should take heed? Again, not necessarily. As I see it, the only take away is that online sales are continuing to skyrocket. And this is being evidenced by the heaps of online payment platforms rising to the surface.

In addition, online merchants already know who they're catering to. I asked online shopping search engine TheFind's director of corporate communications, Usher Lieberman, how he sees these numbers being put into practice, and he didn't think they would actually change what online vendors do. "Savvy retailers know who their customers are and know when their customers are hurting and already know how to respond," he told me.

So, if you're a "luxury site," it would probably behoove you to know that you're mostly catering to affluent shoppers (and I'm hoping you already know this). But the last time I checked, the people who buy 24 karat jewelry more than once are generally making a bit more than $100,000. In terms of other companies, this new set of data is helpful, but it's probably also good to focus on the general shift in online and mobile shopping as a whole.