In the past, marketing efforts traditionally focused on showing customers what they needed. But this marketing strategy doesn’t work as well with young consumers who purchase products online. eCommerce brands will need to take a different approach to attract and retain these customers, who are now a significant segment of the overall market.
So, who are these younger demographics that have different ideas about sales and relationships with brands? Here’s how young consumers are changing the eCommerce landscape and some ways your brand can make valuable connections.
Who Are Young Shoppers?
The definitions used to define these demographics vary depending on the sources you consult. But, broadly speaking, young shoppers usually refer to people in their twenties and early thirties. This would include Millennials, whose birth years are roughly between 1980-2000, and Generation Z, whose birth years are roughly between 1997-2015.
Generation Z, in particular, is the youngest shoppers of the two groups. This demographic has never known a world without the internet or even Amazon. They are considered the most online and connected generation to date.
Younger consumers are more diverse and more educated than their older counterparts. They are also worse off economically than older generations were at the same age. These groups spend money differently, partially because they are pursuing major life milestones like marriage and home ownership later than prior generations.
But that doesn’t mean they don’t spend money. They certainly do, and they overwhelmingly do it online. According to Shopify, consumers aged 18 to 34 have become the dominant eCommerce demographic. And, since the beginning of the pandemic, 67 percent of consumers in this age group have increased their spending.
But, what makes these young shoppers choose one eCommerce brand over another? Here are some of the ways eCommerce sellers can attract and retain this valuable demographic.
A staggering 90 percent of young adults in the United States use social media, and social networks play a vital role in this group’s shopping experiences. Of those in these demographics who buy from independent retailers, over half (54%) learn about the brands through social media.
But social media is valuable for more than just creating awareness with younger audiences. Social platforms now have tools available to create a seamless shopping experience for buyers, many of whom dislike having to leave their favorite apps or sites to make a quick purchase. Currently, 28 percent of young shoppers use social media as a retail channel, a figure which is expected to continue growing.
Another concept that ties in with social media use is the impact of mobile shopping on eCommerce. Since most young people access social media sites and the internet in general from mobile devices and apps, this creates opportunities for brands that have created a mobile-first online presence.
If you make shopping for your online products too difficult, your efforts will be wasted on younger generations. It’s not that they are lazy. They just understand that businesses have the ability to provide a positive and convenient customer experience. So they want to reward brands that deliver.
Consider payment options as just one example. Younger buyers might have credit cards. But they are also used to paying for items with apps like PayPal, Zelle, Venmo, and Apple Pay. If you offer these options, you’ll attract more people in these age groups.
Another example is order fulfillment. Young consumers appreciate having real-time tracking for their orders. And they particularly want to make sure that shipping is fast and delivery is on time. Finally, this group needs assurances that it can return a product if something doesn’t work out.
If you are using the right technology solutions in your order fulfillment processes, you should be able to meet these needs and requirements.
Green Products and Sustainability
Price and convenience will always be drivers for customers, no matter their age. But many younger shoppers today would prefer to do business with environmentally-friendly and sustainable brands. In fact, 62 percent of consumers in these age groups admit they shop for “green” products.
If you want to be a “green” eCommerce seller, what types of things should you make a priority? Packaging is one item you can put on your list. Your business can choose recyclable and climate-friendly packaging options. Interestingly, some shoppers are even willing to settle for longer delivery times as a trade-off for more sustainable shipping practices.
Provided you adopt some sustainable initiatives, have them verified by a reputable external organization before you begin making claims. Sadly, too many brands make these types of promises and fail to deliver, which creates a trust issue with some customers.
Moving beyond sustainability, many of today’s younger shoppers are looking to give their business to brands whose values align with their own. Customers increasingly want stronger connections with the brands they support, and this is one way to accomplish this goal.
When the pandemic hit, online shopping exploded, but many of society’s younger consumers opted to support independent and small businesses. This was a shift driven largely by younger consumers, with one-third opting to purchase from independent retailers.
Many young consumers are deliberate about who they award their business to, with more than half (52%) saying they would be more likely to buy from a brand that shares their values. This is great news for online retailers who have strong missions and advertise things like being minority-owned, supporting diversity, and having a strong commitment to sustainability.
While younger buyers don’t like being “sold” to, there are a variety of strategies your brand can use to build trust with these demographics. Using tools like social media and creating a more convenient experience are just a few of the ways you can attract these buyers and keep them as long-time online customers.