VIENNA: Luxury marketers should focus their efforts on those customers whose engagement with a brand ranges across stores, online and mobile, new research has argued.

Armand de Milleville, vice president and head of merchant services for France and the Netherlands at American Express, outlined findings from American Express Business Insights to the FT Business of Luxury Summit 2013 in Vienna. These were reported in Luxury Daily.

"Omnichannel customers have become the most valuable," he stated. "Those that experience your brand across all channels are the most profitable consumers."

He cited US data showing that omnichannel shoppers, just 16% of all luxury consumers in that country, accounted for 45% of luxury spend, roughly equivalent to the 49% of spend generated by the 60% who shopped only in-store.

In addition, 41% of the omnichannel spend share was on premium luxury, while 59% was on accessible luxury. And this split was even more marked globally, with respective figures of 62% and 38%.

"The conclusion here is that now – which was probably not the case two years ago – omnichannel is becoming the new normal," de Milleville said.

Amex's research showed the proportion of omnichannel consumers varied widely between countries. For example, compared to Britain almost three times as many luxury consumers in the US fall into this bracket.

Some 16% of US luxury consumers shopped both online and in-store, compared to just 6% in the UK. Comparable figures for France were 8% and for Italy 4%.

Bricks-and-mortar remains the most important channel in Europe, but de Milleville suggested the continent is likely to follow the US pattern in the future.

De Milleville also unveiled new findings about the "luxury newcomers" segment, a group that accounts for 25% of fashion brands' customer base.

He dismissed the idea that they were much younger than the original customer base. "Across all markets, about half of newcomers are Generation X and Generation Y," he said. "The same goes for existing customers."

Reinforcing his earlier remarks on the need for luxury brands to be in the online space, he pointed out that newcomers had yet to establish brand loyalty but were more likely to experience luxury brands through the online channel.

Data sourced from Luxury Daily; additional content by Warc staff