By Antonella Ciancio
MILAN (Reuters) - Fashion bloggers will help propel online sales of designer clothes, jewels and luxury cars to more than 11 billion euros ($15 billion) in 2015, a research report said on Thursday.
The exclusive fashion world has embraced the Internet later than other industries but is catching up quickly.
Brands such as Burberry, Tiffany and Gucci are increasing exposure to social media to connect with a new generation born when mobiles and Internet were already there.
Online sales of luxury goods still only account for 2.6 percent of a market worth 172 billion euros, but are growing at a rate of 20 percent a year, Italy luxury foundation Altagamma said in its "Digital Luxury Experience" report.
Blogs and social media are setting trends more than fashion critics, with one out of two customers turning to Facebook or Twitter for advice before buying, the study said.
"Fashion bloggers are more and more powerful, especially in emerging markets like China," Altagamma's research head Francesco Di Lauro said.
Fast-growing China is expected to overtake the United States as the world's No.1 online retail market by 2015, according to the research.
Luxury spending on the web also increases in times of austerity, as wealthy customers prefer to buy from the intimacy of their homes rather than in lavish stores.
"Luxury will become less ostentatious, with the average buyer being Chinese, digital and rich," Di Lauro said.
(Reporting by Antonella Ciancio; Editing by Jon Loades-Carter)