NewYork, 04.02.2016

Generations Y, Z Differ in Key Shopping Attitudes, Habits – GfK Study

Baby Boomers still lag in mobile behaviors; but the two Millennial generations also diverge often

From their use of computers for online purchases to their top reasons for choosing to buy in brick-and-mortar stores, Generations Y and Z part company on important points in a new GfK study of shopping habits and preferences.

Not surprisingly, some of the biggest gaps in the new data can be found between the younger generations and the Baby Boomers (ages 51 to 68), who have been slower to adopt mobile shopping habits. Generations Y (ages 25 to 34) and Z (18 to 24) – often referred to collectively as Millennials – are much more likely to report, for example, that they made a purchase via a smartphone. The figures are 31% and 34% for Gens Y and Z, respectively, compared to just 7% of Boomers and 15% of Gen X (ages 35 to 50).   

Learn more about this study

When it comes 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 shows that Gens Y and Z differ in their reasons for choosing to buy in store versus online. For example, when Gen Z consumers choose to make online purchases, they are more likely to be motivated by 

  • “saving money (better pricing)” (Gen Z: 60%; Gen Y: 46%) and
  • “recommended by people I trust” (Gen Z: 31%; Gen Y:16%).

Meanwhile, Gen Y shoppers who buy online are more likely to say they did so because they:

  • “get better information” online (Gen Y: 35%; Gen Z: 22%),
  •  have “better delivery options” (Gen Y: 26%; Gen Z: 19%), and
  • “can buy other things at the same time” (Gen Y: 23%; Gen Z: 17%)

When it comes to making in-store purchases, Gen Z buyers are more likely to say they are motivated by “get[ting] better information” in retail outlets (25% versus 18%). Gen Y, on the other hand, is much more likely to say they bought in store because shopping there is “easier” (42% versus 29%).

“We are used to seeing younger shoppers lumped together in contrast with their Baby Boomer parents,” said Joe Beier, EVP of GfK’s Shopper and Retail Strategy team. “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.”  

Based on interviews with 25,000 shoppers globally – including 1,000 in the US – GfK’s FutureBuy® research defines shopping patterns in 17 product and service categories. To learn about purchasing greater access to the FutureBuy database, contact Beier at joe.beier(at)

About GfK
GfK is the trusted source of relevant market and consumer information that enables its clients to make smarter decisions. More than 13,000 market research experts combine their passion with GfK’s long-standing data science experience. This allows GfK to deliver vital global insights matched with local market intelligence from more than 100 countries. By using innovative technologies and data sciences, GfK turns big data into smart data, enabling its clients to improve their competitive edge and enrich consumers’ experiences and choices.

For more information, please visit or follow GfK on Twitter

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