Going Digital: Shopping Behaviors of Millennials

By Beth Hurrle  | 

Having grown up in a technology-saturated world, millennials are fluent in the language of automation. In 2019, 48 percent of adults within this demographic reported being online “almost constantly,” with the most minutes spent on mobile. It therefore follows that when it comes to shopping habits, millennials effortlessly incorporate digital behavior into their routines. According to eMarketer, nearly 86 percent of US millennials are expected to be digital buyers in 2020. While these figures are likely to change due to the widespread impact of COVID-19, eMarketer’s report on Millennials serves as a baseline for early 2020. Here’s what marketers can learn about how and where to reach these savvy shoppers online.

Convenience is Key
Amazon is often the entry point for browsing millennials, due to the commerce giant’s inherently accessible and user-friendly nature. Nearly 60 percent of shoppers between ages 25 and 34 kick off a shopping moment by first visiting that mega site, according to a 2019 CivicScience survey. What’s more, Roth Capital Partners reports that approximately 73 percent of 19- to 39-year-olds are Amazon Prime members, and roughly the same amount visit Amazon at least once a week. The lesson? More so than their older counterparts, millennials prioritize convenience. Nearly 45 percent rank same-day delivery as an important online-shopping factor, meaning they expect the instant-gratification of an in-store purchasing experience translated to the virtual world. Approximately 93 percent of millennials own smartphones (compared to 90 percent of Gen Xers and only 68 percent of Baby Boomers), says Pew Research, and they readily put those devices to good use in pursuit of easier online shopping transactions. About six in 10 millennials use mobile apps to research product information and close the deal on a purchase, says Bizrate Insights.

Social Matters
Social media figures prominently in the lives of millennials, as one would expect. Over 86 percent actively interact with various social sites, which spills into their shopping patterns. They’re amenable to the messaging of online advertisers, particularly influencers, with 68 percent admitting to “being strongly influenced by social media posts,” according to Synchrony Financial. An additional 57 percent reportedly discover fab new fashion trends on platforms like Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, Reddit, Pinterest and TikTok. In 2020, millennials are projected to drop a staggering $1.4 billion on retail, which makes their preferred shopping methods well worth noting. Further, 83 percent of this demographic turn to companies that align with their moral values or ethical beliefs. This group is environmentally mindful, socially conscious—and, at times, wary. An April 2019 survey from ThinkNow reports that 34 percent of 23- to 38-year-olds feel some brands occasionally take advantage of them on social media, which translates as the ultimate faux pas. Provided they’ve been treated right, millennials pledge loyalty to ethical brands that deliver engaging experiences while meeting their needs anytime, anywhere.

Omnivorous Appetites
Roughly 68 percent of millennials demand omnichannel accessibility as part of their shopping journey. Such integrated experiences should seamlessly progress from browsing on a smartphone to purchasing on a laptop or tablet to returning an impulse buy in-store. Millennials, more so than other demographics, tend to make creative use of every avenue available to consumers, which means it’s imperative for brands to develop omnichannel strategies connecting various retail touchpoints. That’s due in part to their smart shopping habits: millennials look for deals. Coupons are important. They follow brands online for price-reduction opportunities, and 30 percent will readily switch brands if offered a discount. Ultimately, it all circles back to e-commerce. Forty-five percent of millennials prefer purchasing online because it’s easier to compare products and prices. As this generation continues to transform consumer behaviors, discerning marketers will keep stepping up their digital game to meet them where they shop. We’ll keep an eye on shifting trends right here on the ER blog.

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