NEW YORK, NY–(Marketwire -10/25/11)

While many consumers remain focused on prestige pieces that will retain their worth, young consumers are racing to purchase “new luxury” accessories like high-priced handbags and shoes, according to a study just released by PM Digital, a New York-based digital marketing agency.

This is among the findings in PM Digital’s Trend Report: Luxury Brands Online, which analyzes the state of luxury e-tail and predicts how emerging digital platforms and social media trends will impact the industry.

“Even though there is a lot of uncertainty surrounding the economy, we’re seeing growth across the board in online sales of luxury goods,” said Suzy Sandberg, President of PM Digital. “Having an integrated e-commerce strategy is critical for luxury brands to compete in today’s marketplace.”

According to the report, shoes and accessories are driving growth and are a natural fit with online and mobile shopping, as well as buying direct from luxury brands. Social media influence will continue unabated, hand-in-hand with growing mobile engagement. Private sale/deal sites have the potential to shake up pricing, while new e-commerce players Vogue.com and Style.com take on Saks and Neiman Marcus, and inevitably luxury brands as well.

Additional key findings from the study reveal:

  • The ten largest luxury brands captured almost 90% online market share, based on total visits to 42 luxury brand sites studied for this report. These include iconic brands Louis Vuitton, Ralph Lauren, and Gucci, which attract a wide audience of aspirational Internet browsers as well as core buyers.
  • Most luxury brand websites support e-commerce, and online traffic favors them. The 1 in 5 luxury brands that do not have an online store get just 2% of total visits.
  • Search engines dominate as a source of traffic to luxury brand sites, accounting for one-third of all referrals. An equal amount of traffic comes from other shopping sites but very little cross-visiting from other luxury brands (just 2%).
  • Luxury brands saw a larger share of visits from search (31%) than Apparel & Accessories sites in general (27%), but with a smaller paid search ratio. Some luxury brands still have no paid search strategies.
  • Shoes, handbags and accessories are driving more search clicks for luxury brands than apparel. Shirts are the top clothing keyword (driven by Ralph Lauren’s many clicks from “polo shirts”), followed by dresses.
  • Social media accounts for nearly 10% of traffic to the luxury category. Facebook is the most significant player, with its share ranging from 4% to 10%. YouTube also consistently drives traffic, while Twitter has yet to become a significant source.
  • Flash sale and deal sites such as Gilt, Ideeli and Hautelook are proliferating but have not yet had a significant halo effect on traffic to luxury brand sites.