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Millennials: the same but different

News, 05 February 2016

NEW YORK: Generations Y and Z display distinct shopping habits and preferences, according to a new survey, but both are often closer to each other than to older age groups.

GfK's FutureBuy 2015 report was based on interviews with 25,000 shoppers globally, including 1,000 in the US. This found that Baby Boomers (aged 51 to 68) in the US have been slow to adopt mobile shopping habits, with just 7% having made a purchase via a smartphone, and even among Generation X (35 to 50) the figure was only 15%.

But Generations Y (25 to 34) and Z (18 to 24) were much more likely to report having done so, with figures of 31% and 34% respectively.

When it came to making purchases with a desktop or laptop computer, however, Gen Y and the Boomers registered similar levels (40% and 43% respectively), while Gen Z came in at just 32%.

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

So, for example, when Gen Z consumers choose to make online purchases, they are more likely to be motivated by saving money than Gen Y (60% vs 46%).

The differences are even more stark when it comes to recommendations by people they trust: 31% of Gen Z cite this as a reason for making an online purchase compared to only 16% of Gen Y.

Gen Y shoppers buying online were more likely to say they did so because they get better information online (35% vs 22% for Gen Z), have better delivery options (26% vs 19%) and can buy other things at the same time (23% vs 17%).

For in-store purchases, Gen Y was more likely to view this as the easy option (42% vs 29%). Gen Z buyers on the other hand were more likely to be motivated by getting better information there (25% vs 18%).

"We are used to seeing younger shoppers lumped together in contrast with their Baby Boomer parents," said Joe Beier, EVP/ Shopper and Retail Strategy at GfK.

"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."

Data sourced from GfK; additional content by Warc staff