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What Drives Young Shoppers? Comparing Millennial and Generation Z Online Consumer Behavior

Authors:

Abstract

Little research exists into the online shopping habits of Generation Z. How, then, should retailers prepare for the next generation of online shoppers? Are there differences between Generation Z and Millennials online shopping behavior? If so, what should retailers do with the online shopping experience to cater to each cohort? The research showed that impulse buying was a driver of Millennial behavior but was not a strong driver for Gen Z behavior. Gen Z does not look for immediate gratification in online purchases as the Millennial generation does as the results show need for cognition a better predictor of online shopping behavior for Gen Z.
For further information contact: Krista Lauring, Jake Jabs College of Business and Entrepreneurship, Montana State University (kristina.lauring@msu.
montana.edu).
2019 Summer AMA Proceedings POP-5
Research Question
Little research exists into the online shopping habits of Gen-
eration Z. How, then, should retailers prepare for the next
generation of online shoppers? Are there differences between
Generation Z and Millennials online shopping behavior? If
so, what should retailers do with the
online shopping
experi-
ence to cater to each cohort?
Method and Data
A 48-item instrument was distributed online nationwide in
fall 2018 with participants including members of two gener-
ations: Generation Z (17-21 year olds) and Millennials (22-
26 year olds). Following removal of participants who failed
to complete the survey or didn’t follow directions, the Gen Z
sample (n = 129) had a mean age of 19.2, while the Millen-
nial sample (n = 121) had a mean age 24.0. Independent
variables used in this study were online shopping, impulse
buying, and need for cognition.After respondents completed
the scales measuring individual differences, they were given
a task requiring them to find the best smartphone as a gift,
with measures
from the
task used as dependent variables in
the research. These included dwell time on the website, num-
ber of pages visited, and duration away from the survey.
Respondents were then directed to a website owned by the
researchers and designed to look like a Google search engine
results page, with nine different smartphone options pre-
sented. After completing the task, respondents returned to the
survey to select which of the nine smartphones they would
purchase. Additional dependent variables measured included
involvement in a task and website shopping comparison
ability.
Summary of Findings
The research showed that impulse buying was a driver of
Millennial behavior but was not a strong driver for Gen Z
behavior. Gen Z does not look for immediate gratification in
online purchases as the Millennial generation does as the
results show need for cognition as a better predictor of online
shopping behavior for Gen Z. Marketers will need to take
this into consideration when targeting this generation and
designing and strategizing the company’s online presence.
Based on the results, online shopping confidence affected
Millennials as it was a predictor for their involvement in the
task. However, Gen Z did not rely on confidence as
expected. While Millennials compare on more websites,
spend more time on a website, and visit more pages on that
site, Gen Z can navigate and identify their best option faster,
visiting fewer pages. This is important for marketers to
understand because it appears Gen Z can make educated
online purchasing decisions more quickly than the previous
generation. Thus, elements such as page loading time and
availability of pertinent information above the fold become
important to attracting purchase behavior from Gen Z.
Key Contributions
Results show significant differences between Gen Z and Mil-
lennials for pages visited and website shopping comparison,
and a marginally significant difference for impulse buying.
What Drives Young Shoppers? Comparing
Millennial and Generation Z Online
Consumer Behavior
Krista Lauring, Montana State University
Eric Van Steenburg, Montana State University
Keywords: Generation Z, millennials, consumer behavior, online shopping behavior
Description: This paper investigates the differences between Generation Z and Millennial online shopping behavior and
determines how marketers can tailor the online shopping experience for each generation.
EXTENDED ABSTRACT
POP-6 2019 Summer AMA Proceedings
For Generation Z, the overall model was significant for ses-
sion duration, with the variables need for cognition, involve-
ment in the task, and website shopping comparison all sig-
nificant predictors of how long an individual spent
evaluating and purchasing a smartphone. However, the same
model was not significant for Millennial respondents. When
examining involvement with the task as the dependent
variable, the overall model was significant for Gen Z and
Millennial respondents. However, more variables showed
significance in the evaluation of the smartphone for the latter,
leading the Millennial model to have more variance
explained (36.4%) than the Gen Z model (13.3%). Finally,
the overall model for website shopping comparison was sig-
nificant for both
Gen Z and Millennial models, with the Millennial model
having more variance explained (41.8%) compared to the
Gen Z model (14.0%). However, the number of pages visited
and time spent on the shopping site was the opposite of the
predictions. Specifically, Millennials visited significantly
more pages and spent significantly more time on the website
completing the task compared to Gen Z.
References are available on request.
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