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Online, social and cross-border shopping now normal for young consumers, says ESW

Oct 21, 2021

We've seen more evidence of how younger consumers have changed their shopping habits since the onset of the pandemic with a report saying that many continue the online behaviour they developed during lockdown.

Photo: Pixabay/Public domain

Lockdowns and restricted access to physical retail further eroded the relevance of bricks and mortar retail to the next generation of shoppers as direct-to-consumer and cross-border e-commerce continue to emerge as the driving force,” data from ESW based on the behaviour of more than 15,000 global consumers shows.

The cross-border e-commerce firm (formerly known as eShopWorld) said nearly one-fifth (18%) of global consumers shopped online for products they had only previously purchased in-store during the health crisis and 39% of Millennial shoppers say they didn’t miss in-person shopping during the pandemic.

And that attitude doesn’t seem to be changing now that stores are open again. Some 33% of Millennial consumers made more than 11 purchases online and from outside their own country in the last six months, “as purchasing directly from brands cross-border increasingly becomes the generational norm for this demographic”.

ESW’s Global Voices: Pre-Peak Pulse 2021 spoke to almost 15,000 consumers across 14 countries, including the UK, France, Germany, US, Canada, Mexico, South Africa, UAE, India, Russia, China, South Korea, Japan and Australia.

Some 52% of global shoppers aged 25-34 said they’d bought direct from an online international brand during lockdown. And a with a third of them still doing so in recent months, it suggests that they’re quite happy with the experience.

Underscoring the disruptive nature of the pandemic on customer behaviour, 11% of respondents also reported purchasing from new companies and retailers – meaning that in the past 12 months, approximately £280bn worth of spending switched brands – “highlighting the opportunity for businesses to dislodge incumbents and reach new customers and demographics". 

The research also highlighted the “ongoing erosion of traditional retail channels” with 47% of online shoppers buying via a social media channel, with Gen Z (55%) and Millennials leading the way.  This is more marked in some countries with two thirds or more of shoppers in Mexico (68%), India (66%), and UAE (67%) shopping on social media.

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