NEW YORK: Luxury consumers are far more likely to communicate via social media than non-luxury consumers and luxury brands need to target them accordingly, a new study has said.

The Shullman Research Center, a luxury-focused consulting organisation, surveyed 1,250 online US consumers across different income levels for its report, Social Networking Among Luxury Purchasers, and found that 88% of those planning to make a luxury purchase in the coming year used social networking sites.

"Luxury-product buyers are clearly into digital communications, they use this more than the non-luxury buyers," Bob Shullman, founder and CEO of the Shullman Research Center, told Luxury Daily.

In particular, 98% of consumers who planned to buy luxury and had a household income of at least $250,000 used digital platforms to communicate, with 71% of this group specifically using social media.

In the same income group, among those who did not intend to buy luxury the proportion engaging via social media dropped to 51%.

Facebook and Twitter were the most frequently used platforms, with 45% of top-end luxury buyers using the former and 14% the latter. Pinterest followed close behind on 12%.

"The bottom line is that networking is going digital and these digital channels reach a lot of people," observed Shullman.

Use of traditional communications appeared to be declining, the report noted, with 73% of top-end luxury buyers using the telephone and 70% engaging in face-to-face conversations.

Among all adults who planned to buy luxury products, these figures fell to 44% and 45% respectively.

But Shullman cautioned brands against neglecting these methods, remarking that people consulted friends and family when thinking about what to buy.

"If brands are doing other types of advertising or marketing efforts, whether it is digital or in magazines, there is still going to be a lot of traditional word of mouth between consumers," he said.

Data sourced from Luxury Daily; additional content by Warc staff