Gen Y Shopping Habits: Key Insights for Brands and Retailers to Stay Ahead of the Game


Knowing how your target audience shops is vital to building an effective marketing strategy. However, today shopping behaviours change as quickly as technology does, and keeping up with the latest trends in your ICP can be challenging. In this article, we will focus on gen y shopping habits, the generation that is considered to be the most active shopping online, and together with Generation Z constitutes more than two-thirds of the world’s population.

Find out more about how millennials are shopping today and what their shopping trends for 2023 are in order to be ahead of your competition.

How Millennials are Changing the Face of Retail Shopping

The Millennial generation (born between the beginning of the 1980s and the end of the 1990s), also known as Generation Y, was the first one to be exposed from an early age to the Internet and modern technological devices. This has shaped the way this generation consumes information and consequently shops. 

In the following paragraphs, we will present the latest buying habits of the Millennial generation, according to the latest studies found in April 2023.

Gen Y Shopping Habit #1: Online Shopping as Primary Shopping Method

In 2021 millennials were already the generation using online shopping the most as the primary shopping method (Statista, September 2021). In face of the technological developments of the last decade and the corona pandemic, it might not be a surprise to most sellers that Generation Y is more willing to shop online than in-store, as the most recent global survey by ESW Global Voices Survey (March 2023) has concluded.

Around 27% of millennials claimed to be willing to spend more money than in 2022 as well, which makes them the leaders in worldwide e-commerce spending in 2023 and the owners of a spending power of around $2.5 trillion. This amount is very encouraging for merchants, especially taking into account that these young consumers have not yet reached the best earning potential of their careers.

Gen Y Shopping Habit #2: Most spendings on Luxury, Apparel & Footwear, and Consumer Electronics Categories

In 2023 millennials are expected to spend most of their savings on the following online categories:

  • Health & Beauty: Millennials will spend more on health & beauty products than Gen Z (+50%), gen x, and Baby Boomers (+42%). However, Baby Boomers are more likely to spend $2500 or more (“power shoppers”) this year than Gen Y.
  • Luxury, apparel & footwear, and consumer electronics: Gen Y will spend the most money on these online categories, especially when it comes to the apparel & footwear industry.

Gen Y Shopping Habit #3: Amazon as Favourite Brand

Top Brands for Millennials
Image credit: YPulse Brand Tracker Data report.

Apart from knowing the most-loved categories of these young shoppers, it is equally important to keep their favourite brands in mind. According to a 2022 YPulse Brand Tracker Data report, Millennials showed the highest affinity for Amazon (56%) and PayPal (56%), followed by Nike (53%) and YouTube (52%). 

Here’s how we can interpret these results:

  • Brands and retailers should be present on Amazon in order to reach this cohort. 57% of Millennials affirm they regularly buy on Amazon, according to YPulse.  
  • Offering multiple payment options like PayPal and BNPL methods, which are also growing this inflationary year, could help increase sales. Millennials also highly value the use of peer-to-peer payment solutions like PayPal in their day-to-day lives. 
  • Advertising on audiovisual platforms like YouTube could help reach more potential consumers.

Gen Y Shopping Habit #4: Growth of Mobile and Social Commerce

According to a 2019 Statista study, millennials use the internet on their mobiles for an average duration of 3 hours and 45 minutes per day, which gives online merchants significant opportunities to advertise their products and services on online platforms. 

In December 2022 these young adults visited Facebook the most in the U.S., although video-sharing platforms like Instagram and TikTok are also amongst the top social media channels for this age group. 

Similar to Gen Z, Millennials too show interest in looking for products and brands on these social platforms, which is why online sellers should commit to a strong Social Commerce strategy by developing social media ad campaigns and engaging with audiences through UGC (user-generated content).

Did you know that Maisons du Monde was able to launch its social commerce strategy twice as fast with Lengow?

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Conclusion: Gen Y Shopping Habits in 2023

If you want your e-commerce business to succeed amongst Generation Y you should try to be present on Amazon, offer flexible payments and prices, and advertise on social media. 

Make sure to always follow the latest developments of Gen Y’s shopping behaviour so you never miss any important growth opportunity!

Start selling more and better to Gen Y!

Sofia Carvalho e Pereira

Sofia is a language enthusiast with an academical background in Linguistics and Strategic Communication and PR. Before joining Netrivals' and Lengow's e-commerce content team, she worked in diverse sectors as part of their marketing departments.

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