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In Finland, Digital Shopping Behavior Varies by Age Group

Gen X and Gen Y digital shoppers both visit online stores first when researching purchases

Do people of different ages have different approaches to shopping online? It’s a question many retailers are asking now that most consumers have multichannel lifestyles and make contact with stores both physically and virtually.

In Finland, customer experience specialist SN4Mobile recently surveyed two generations of consumers—Generation Y, the digital natives born between 1980 and 1995, and Generation X, born between 1964 and1979—to discover how digital options affected their shopping and buying.

Researchers investigated the ways these two cohorts used several distinct sources of information during the purchase process. In both groups, an online store was the most popular starting point, with more than one-third of respondents in total saying they went there first. Among Generation X, a manufacturer’s website was the second most popular choice, cited by 26%. But in the younger Generation Y group, just 17% began by collecting information on a manufacturer’s site—the same proportion that went first to consumer reviews.

Shoppers in both groups were also asked which single information source most influenced their final purchase decisions. Here, too, there were key differences. A physical store was by far the most important factor for older shoppers, mentioned by 33%; among Generation Y, only 18% considered that the key influence. In fact, the younger age bracket said consumer reviews and friends’ recommendations had a greater impact on them than any other sources of information, including brick-and-mortar or online stores.

Finland is already one of Western Europe’s most successful digital shopping markets. Business-to-consumer ecommerce sales, including travel, will reach $13.87 billion this year, eMarketer predicts—outpacing the totals in Norway and Sweden, for example.

However, because Finland is a mature market, we expect ecommerce sales to grow just 3.7% in 2014—well below the rate in other countries across the region.

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