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Survey: Consumers prefer the same online retailers across generations

The four most popular e-commerce sites have the same ranking among three key age demographics.

According to a new survey of 983 U.S. consumers from custom signage provider, the four most frequently shopped online retailers for Baby Boomers, Gen X, and millennials are Amazon, Walmart, eBay, and Target. Discrepancies do not start until the fifth-place ranking, which is held by Kohl’s for Baby Boomers, Costco for Gen X, and Best Buy for millennials.

However, results demonstrate clear discrepancies by generation in usage of online grocery delivery services. Thirty-four percent of millennial respondents have used online grocery delivery, compared to 25% of Gen X and 22% of Baby Boomers. A majority of respondents in all demographics who have not used online grocery delivery say they are unlikely to start – including 67% of Baby Boomers, 62% of Gen X, and 60% of millennials.

Among respondents who prefer in-store shopping, the top three reasons are seeing and touching items before purchase (73%), having the product immediately (72%), and avoiding shipping costs (52%). The top three reasons for preferring online shopping are convenience (85%), price comparisons (72%), and saving time (71%).

Looking at how respondents prefer to purchase different categories, the survey shows consumers strongly favor purchasing daily necessities at a brick-and-mortar store. This includes categories such as perishable groceries (85% in-store, 7% online, 7% both), non-perishable groceries (75% in-store, 39% online, 32% both), paper products (75% in-stores, 12% online, 13% both), and cleaning supplies (74% in-store, 15% online, 11% both).

Meanwhile, consumers are more likely to go online to buy products that can be purchased physically or digitally, or entertainment items. For example, 66% of respondents purchase books and media online, compared to 17% in-store and 17% both. The categories of electronics and accessories (52% online, 25% in-store, 24% both) and gifts (44% online, 19% in-store, 37% both) also skewed toward online purchase behavior.

Examining frequency and type of online shopping behavior, the survey reveals most respondents (34%) order something online two to three times per month, followed by four to five times per month (27%). Only 2% do not make any monthly online purchases, while 8% purchase items online 10 or more times per month. By generation, millennials make the most average monthly online purchases (5.3), followed by Gen X (4.9) and Baby Boomers (3.7).

Among all respondents, online mass markets such as Amazon are the most popular means of shopping online (84%), followed by store websites (71%), search engines (64%), auction websites such as eBay (32%), daily deals sites such as Groupon (19%), and social media marketplaces (18%).
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