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Millennials More Likely to Browse, Make Impulse Buys

More than half often purchase items they didn't plan to buy

February 10, 2014 | Retail & Ecommerce | Demographics

With the sizeable amounts of student debt and the burden of underemployment many carry on their backs, millennials are often classified as an economically challenged group. Financial hardships, however, are not keeping the majority from making impulse purchases on a regular basis.

In a November 2013 survey conducted by AOL, 60% of millennial internet users (18- to 34-year-olds) agreed or strongly agreed that they looked at items online to buy nearly every day, even if they didn’t actually plan on making a purchase. Forty-six percent of those ages 18 to 64 reported doing so.

US Internet Users Who Browse Products Online Frequently*, by Age, Nov 2013 (% of respondents in each group)

This aimless browsing could be the reason why millennial internet users were more likely than their older counterparts to make impulse buys. Over half agreed or strongly agreed that they often found themselves purchasing items that they didn’t plan to buy. Around four in 10 Gen Xers and just 30% of baby boomers reported this was something they did frequently.

US Internet Users Who Purchase Products They Did Not Plan to Buy, by Age, Nov 2013 (% of respondents in each group)

Internet users of all ages who browsed either in person or online typically knew what brand they would buy before they shopped. However, there is still significant opportunity to convert those who have not yet made a brand decision, especially those who aren’t browsing as frequently.

While 66% of those who browsed for products on a daily basis knew what brand they would buy before purchasing, 24% said they decided as they did their research, and 10% made a decision while they were in the store. Only 48% of monthly browsers and 46% of sporadic browsers knew what brand they’d buy before they shopped.



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