Affluent shoppers now turning to Web, study finds

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Wealthy individuals, who used to depend on elegant boutiques for purchases, have began buying products and services on the Web, according to a study conducted by the Luxury Institute.

Ninety-six percent of Americans whose annual income is more than $150,000 buy products and services online. Fifty-five percent do this regularly and almost all (99 percent) use the Internet as a research tool prior to buying.

Sixty-nine percent of affluent Americans make hotel and resort reservations on the Internet.

More than half of the affluent (53 percent) prefer purchasing women's apparel via the Internet; 43 percent prefer the Internet for purchasing men's apparel.

The results of the study highlight the Internet's growth in importance as a sales channel for luxury goods marketing.

Google and Yahoo are the top sites visited by affluent Internet users. Almost three-quarters (73 percent) of the rich say finding companies through search engines is a good way to create a positive impression. Thirty percent off those polled found ads on a search engine site an effective marketing technique.

Once wealthy consumers get to a Web site, privacy, security and ease of navigation become important factors in keeping them there.

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