Generations Y, Z differ in key shopping attitudes, habits

A new study of the retail habits of Generations Y and Z shows that the different age groups differ when it comes to using computers for online purchases versus shopping at brick-and-mortar stores.

A new GfK survey revelaled that Baby Boomers have been slower to adopt the smartphone as a shopping device. But when it comes to making purchases with a desktop or laptop computer, Boomers registered similar levels to Generation Y (40% and 43% respectively), while Gen Z came in at just 32%.

“We are used to seeing younger shoppers lumped together in contrast with their Baby Boomer parents,” said Joe Beier, EVP of GfK’s Shopper and Retail Strategy team. “But there are some important differences between the two ‘halves’ of the Millennial cohort; in certain areas, we see Gen Y tending toward the ‘old-school’ ways of the Boomers – but in others, they seem equal to their younger brothers and sisters in Gen Z.”

The study also shows that Generations Y and Z differ in their reasons for choosing to buy in store versus online.

For example, when Gen Z consumers choose to make online purchases, they are more likely to be motivated by “saving money (better pricing)” (Gen Z: 60%; Gen Y: 46%) and “recommended by people I trust” (Gen Z: 31%; Gen Y:16%). Meanwhile, Gen Y shoppers who buy online are more likely to say they did so because they “get better information” online (Gen Y: 35%; Gen Z: 22%), have “better delivery options” (Gen Y: 26%; Gen Z: 19%), and “can buy other things at the same time” (Gen Y: 23%; Gen Z: 17%). 

When it comes to making in-store purchases, Gen Z buyers are more likely to say they are motivated by “get[ting] better information” in retail outlets (25% versus 18%). Gen Y, on the other hand, is much more likely to say they bought in store because shopping there is “easier” (42% versus 29%).

The new GfK study was based on interviews with 25,000 shoppers globally – including 1,000 in the U.S. To view the entire report, click here.

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