They flash their cash with a click

As online shopping grows, a new group of consumers is emerging. They have plenty of money and the confidence to buy both big-ticket and run-of-the-mill items online.

About 4.2 million people now spend &£600 or more online every six months. Exploring the demographic make-up, lifestyle, media habits and attitudes of this lucrative group can pay dividends when brands are looking at ways of influencing them.

New research from BMRB International shows that these high-spenders are concentrated in London and east Anglia. Indeed, internet users in the London ITV region are 23 per cent more likely to be high online spenders than internet users as a whole, whilst those in the East of England ITV region are 26 per cent more likely to be. Three-fifths of the online high-spending group are men.

The group’s age-profile is skewed towards 35- to 54-year-olds, and particularly towards the high end of this age range: 30 per cent of high-spenders are between 45 and 54 years old, compared with 23 per cent aged between 35 and 44 years old. This older bias is reflected in the level of household income – 45- to 54-year-old high-spenders are 51 per cent more likely than internet users as a whole to have a pre-tax household income of &£50,000 or more.

The more extravagant online spenders are more likely to buy high-value individual products than are the great mass of online shoppers (defined as anyone who has bought online in the past six months). Categories such as property, cars, holidays, computers, other electrical goods and furniture all appear in the top ten types of item bought by the high-spenders.

However, the top-ten list also includes lower-value items that are bought more frequently. High online spenders are 173 per cent more likely than online shoppers as a whole to have bought alcohol, music, flowers and food over the internet.

The relative enthusiasm of high online spenders for making online purchases means there are few products they do not buy over the internet. Having said this, they are ten per cent less likely to have bought CDs, 26 per cent less likely to have bought tickets for events and 50 per cent less likely to have gambled online than are internet users as a whole. This reflects the demographic profile of the high-spending group.

The high-spending group’s propensity for buying big-ticket individual items is reflected in the value of their most recent purchase. High online spenders are almost three-and-a-half times as likely as online shoppers generally to have spent &£400 or more on their most recent Web purchase.

One of the key factors that motivates high-spenders to buy online is saving time. This group is 34 per cent more likely than online shoppers generally to agree that they do have time to go to high street shops or shopping centres. However, they also enjoy the time they spend online and are 22 per cent more likely to enjoy shopping online more than on the high street.

The BMRB data shows that almost three-quarters (73 per cent) of high online spenders say that they have been prompted to make an online purchase in the past month by some form of advertising. This compares with 68 per cent of all online shoppers.

Indeed, the higher spenders are 30 per cent more likely than online shoppers as a whole to say they have been influenced to make a purchase by promotional e-mail or an ad seen in a computing magazine. They are over 20 per cent more likely to have been influenced by ads in Sunday newspapers and through Teletext, Web-based advertising and poster advertising.

High-spenders are 31 per cent more likely than the average internet user to have a broadband internet connection. Their heavy Web usage means they visit many sites more frequently than internet users as a whole. Most notably, they are approximately twice as likely to have visited Ananova, UK plus, This Is London and in the past four weeks.

Members of this group still spend more time watching television than consuming any other medium, but they do not watch as much as other types of consumer. They are most likely to watch programmes about sport, current affairs, property or holidays.

Online high-spenders tend to be avid readers of broadsheets compared with all internet users. They are 54 per cent more likely to read the Financial Times and 34 per cent more likely to read The Guardian. On Sundays, they are 66 per cent more likely to read The Independent on Sunday and 39 per cent more likely to read The Observer.

The internet’s big spenders are a time-poor, cash-rich group – a highly attractive target for any e-tailer. This group is amenable to persuasion by advertising, so it is well worth marketers’ while to understand their media and lifestyle choices, the better to communicate with them effectively.

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