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Survey: Millennials, Gen Z driving participation in digital economy

Consumers are increasingly selling goods and services online.

Consumers are changing the ways they earn income, spend money and leverage technology.

Nearly half (48%) of all respondents reported engaging in at least one source of tech-enabled income generation in 2022, according to the latest Consumer Pulse survey of consumer households in seven countries (including the U.S.) from IDC.

The three most popular tech-enabled income generation sources were content creation, peer-to-peer commerce, and rideshare driving. This trend is driven by Gen Z- and millennial-led households, where 60% of respondents said they derived such income in the last year.

"It may be surprising that nearly half of households report online income-generating activities," said David Myhrer, research VP, Consumer Strategies at IDC. "It's important to remember that this includes selling things on eBay or Facebook Marketplace, picking up the occasional shift on Lyft or Uber, and posting content on sites such as YouTube. There is now a diverse set of opportunities for consumers to generate new sources of income, and they're embracing them."

[Read more: Growing complexity of digital commerce challenges retailer confidence]

All told, combined worldwide spending on independently created content, items purchased via peer-to-peer commerce, and ridesharing services will grow to a total of $294 billion by 2026, according to IDC’s Consumer Market Model (CMM). The IDC CMM forecasts strong and continued growth of spending on consumer-derived content, goods, and services.

For example, the CMM forecasts that by 2026, consumers will add $15 billion worldwide in new spending on other consumers' independent content creation. CMM predictions also indicate peer-to-peer marketplaces will see strong growth, accelerating from $33 billion to $117 billion from 2021 to 2026. Finally, rideshare driving is forecast to drive $85 billion in new spending worldwide between 2022 and 2026.

Consumer Market Model Spending Forecast by Online Activity and 2021-2026 Compound Annual Growth Rates (CAGR) (forecast spending in $USD millions)

Online Activity

2026 Spending Forecast

2021-2026 CAGR

Independent Content Creation



P2P eCommerce*



Ride Sharing






* Labeled as P2P marketplaces in IDC's Consumer Market Model.

Source: IDC Worldwide Consumer Market Model H2 2022

IDC Consumer Pulse results also show that online transactions (50%) overtook in-person purchases (43%) in 2022. Within online grocery shopping, the share of home delivery rose from 25% to 35%. According to IDC analysis, this online grocery delivery growth is being driven by Gen Z and younger millennials, as well as boomers.

Looking at mobile commerce trends, IDC projects that almost two-thirds (64%) of online transactions will be conducted on mobile devices by 2026.

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