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Superior Craftsmanship, Materials and Customer Service Define Luxury Market and Drive Premium Pricing According to New Survey

NEW YORK, NY -- (Marketwire) -- 12/10/12 -- In a new survey by independent New York-based Luxury Institute, superior craftsmanship, materials and customer service scored highest in terms of helping to define the luxury market while driving premium pricing. Additionally, survey respondents overwhelmingly favored a long-lasting, high quality product over one that merely enhanced status.

The survey, in cooperation with the newly relaunched Lincoln Motor Company, asked wealthy luxury automobile consumers to share their opinions that may have altered since the recession about buying considerations and luxury spending across a variety of product categories.

"High standards for the tangible quality of goods are to be expected from such refined buyers," said Luxury Institute CEO Milton Pedraza. "Of particular interest is the growing leadership of U.S. firms as global luxury brand icons. Jewelry from Tiffany & Co., consumer electronics from Apple and handbags from Coach are among the world's most prominent brands, giving consumers worldwide more reasons to pursue luxury in the States."

Defining and Driving the Luxury Market

When it comes to what drives luxury and justifies premium pricing, 86% of affluent Americans surveyed say that superior craftsmanship is the deciding quality. Nearly as many (84%) say they also expect the use of superior materials in luxury products. The third most important consideration, cited by 76% of wealthy respondents, is a "superior customer experience both during and after the sale."

A majority of wealthy consumers report enjoying their luxury purchases discreetly versus proudly showing their purchases to others. In addition, more than 90% indicate that acquiring a long-lasting, high quality product is more important than enhancing their status.

"What we see in this insightful Luxury Institute research is that during the recession, the U.S. luxury market changed and people changed," said Jim Farley, Executive Vice President of Ford Motor Company Global Marketing, Sales and Service and Lincoln. "They want what appeals most to their desires and not what they believe will impress others and this is a trend we believe will continue to grow ever stronger. We also took good note that in the automotive sector the expectation of great service is still being underserved, something we intend to address with the new Lincoln."

Other survey results highlighted the fact that half of high-income shoppers rely on user reviews and the recommendations of family and close friends, enabling quick sharing of opinions and influence. These top-two influencers of luxury consumers' purchase decisions demonstrate how relative newcomers can quickly establish brands that compete with established stalwarts, and how traditional brands can reinvigorate themselves via digital media.

Added Milton, "What we hear consistently and loudly from wealthy consumers is that the manner in which the goods are sold, as well as the service provided after the sale, are nearly as important as the products themselves. With American brands growing in luxury influence, there is a clear eagerness on the part of the global consumer to embrace American luxury brands, making service a critical success factor for the future."

Survey Methodology
The Luxury Institute conducted an in-depth online survey with 1,216 affluent U.S. consumers in cooperation with the Lincoln Motor Company. Half male and half female respondents were recruited and screened to only include those age 21 or older with a minimum gross annual income of $150,000 and ownership/lease of at least one luxury automobile.

About the Luxury Institute (www.LuxuryInstitute.com)
The Luxury Institute is the objective and independent global voice of the high net-worth Consumer. The Institute conducts extensive and actionable research with wealthy consumers about their behaviors and attitudes on customer experience best practices. In addition, we work closely with top-tier luxury brands to successfully transform their organizational cultures into more profitable customer-centric enterprises. Our Luxury CRM Culture consulting process leverages our fact-based research and enables luxury brands to dramatically Outbehave as well as Outperform their competition. The Luxury Institute also operates LuxuryBoard.com, a membership-based online research portal, and the Luxury CRM Association, a membership organization dedicated to building customer-centric luxury enterprises.

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