E-commerce is growing around the world. In fact, global online purchase intention rates doubled—in some cases tripled—between 2011 and 2014 across more than half of 22 categories measured by Nielsen. But not all age groups are shopping online to the same degree. And the age group that has grown up in the digital era—Millennials (age 21-34)—is leading the way.
Millennials comprise at least half of all respondents who plan to make an online purchase across every product category measured in Nielsen’s Global Survey of E-commerce. Baby supplies, personal care items, toys/dolls and alcoholic drinks garner the most significant share of Millennial online purchase intenders.
Millennials Comprise More than Half of All Respondents Who Plan to Make an Online Purchase in the Next Six Months
|Baby Supplies||63%||Car/Motorcycle Accessory||53%|
|Personal Care||57%||Event Tickets||53%|
|Cosmetics||56%||Music (not downloaded)||52%|
|Mobile Phone||56%||Electronic Equipment||52%|
|Pet Products||54%||Tours/Hotel Reservations||51%|
|Videos/DVDs/Games (not downloaded)||53%||Computer Hardware||50%|
|Computer Software||53%||Airline ticket/reservation||50%|
Older Generations Shop, Too
But don’t count older generations out. They represent a sizeable 40% share of online purchase intenders. But reaching the older age set is much more fragmented territory than with their younger counterparts. As can be expected, the older the age, the greater the decline in online shopping intent. Globally, Generation X (age 35-49) respondents comprise about 28% of those willing to make a purchase online, and Baby Boomers (age 50-64) make up about 10%. The Silent Generation (age 65+) contributes roughly 2%. The youngest age group, Generation Z (under age 20), represents about 7% of those who intend to purchase online.
“While the generational mix of online shoppers currently skew younger, attention to the needs of all segments should be considered when developing outreach plans,” said John Burbank, president of strategic initiatives, Nielsen. “Tomorrow’s highest purchase-power consumers are ones who skew much higher for digital shopping. As the population ages, greater percentages of consumers will be connected and online prominence will continue to grow. Building trust at the onset is the foundation for sustaining lifetime loyalty among shoppers.”
Beyond the generational breakdown of who’s shopping online, brands should also consider the devices consumers use to shop. With a plethora of Internet-connected devices to choose from, there’s no shortage of ways for consumers to browse and buy online. And the device of choice is decidedly different around the world.
Computers are the largely favored device for online browsing and buying among respondents in all regions, but mobile phones are a close second pick for respondents in the Middle East/Africa region and growing in prominence in Asia-Pacific and Latin America. In developing markets, mobile is often the first-access device to the Internet. Tablets—which have become more popular since the 2010 introduction of Apple’s iPad—are used by nearly one-third (31%) of global respondents for online shopping. While tablets are currently less popular than other devices for shopping online, their portability and large-screen features are conducive to E-commerce. As penetration of these devices continues to grow, so too will online shopping usage.