Young Adults’ Shopping Habits Chase Convenience

The love of e-commerce grows and convenience remains a top priority.

May 18, 2021

Young adult shopping on their phone

ALEXANDRIA, Va.—The preference for in-store shopping continues to decline among younger adult generations, thanks to their dislike of long lines and crowds. That finding comes from a new Gen Z and Millennials report, conducted by Kibo, a Texas-based unified commerce platform, and Digital Commerce 360 Research, a Chicago research organization.

The study of 2,000 consumers split between Gen Zers (age 18-25) and Millennials (age 26-40) asked about online shopping and in-store shopping preferences. These younger adult generations were already leaders in online and mobile commerce, but the COVID-19 pandemic accelerated many of their behaviors and opinions.

According to survey responses, 30% of Gen Z and 36% of Millennials plan to shop in physical stores less than they did before the pandemic. The two groups find e-commerce to be more enticing than ever, with 28% of Gen Zers and 24% of Millennials noting they will likely shop online more. 

Both groups cited convenience and price comparison as the top two benefits of online shopping. But they want the online experience to become even more convenient, with better fit technology and better shipping options. Other findings included: 

  • 55% of Millennials cited convenience as their top online shopping benefit.
  • 51% of Gen Zs said price comparison was their top online shopping benefit.
  • Social media is a big influence on purchase decisions. In fact, 64.2% of Gen Z said that they get shopping inspiration from Instagram, compared to 39.1% of Millennials.
  • These generations care about ethics, sustainability and equality. For example, 41% of Gen Z said they’d pay more for sustainable fashion, while 73.9% of Millennials think it’s very or fairly important that brands demonstrate commitment to diversity and equality.

Stores still play an important role in the commerce experience. Trying products and browsing remain strong draws for shoppers. The challenge is to offer these elements of the experience in a way that melds with higher levels of online activity.

“The study shows that retailers can lean into updated online technology to help with convenience, fit and other key product information, and lean into social media to capture loyalty as the pandemic winds down over 2021. Now is not the time for retailers to guess how to create better online shopping experiences, and this research provides a clear path for the adult generations that will lead our economy in the coming years,” said Lisa Kalscheur, CMO, Kibo.

She added that the younger generations are savvy about what drives companies and will make purchase decisions based on this information. Retailers should be transparent and provide online channels to educate their buyers about their practices in the categories that matter most, such as equality and sustainability, she said.