Home » News » Online Shopping – The Young Ones

Online Shopping – The Young Ones


Online shopping, is the process different depending on your age?

Demographics and age groups do behave differently when it comes to online shopping, if you work in ecommerce marketing, you’ll know this. The older generation (pre-‘tinterneters’ thanks Peter Kay!) have been sort of forced into it and are maybe starting to trust it now. The youngest generation, our older teens and young adults are the most interesting group, a sort of enigma to us inbetweeners.. how do they do it? What goes through their minds when they need stuff and start out on that ecommerce journey? What initiates the journey in the first place..

I found a young adult to interrogate and ask about their online shopping experiences and it was an interesting conversation, quite eye opening. If you are marketing to a younger audience (18-24), you may find this helpful, interesting or both (I hope).

The conversation begins….This is Beth and she is now 19 and at university studying Biology. Online shopping is not at the top of her priority list (unless it’s a cracking good deal) as a new university student and here she explains why.

What social media do you use and what do you like about it?

In the decade I became a young teen (2012) Facebook was a big thing, it was an exciting new milestone in life, at the time. I would compare it to getting my first car or my first house. When I first started using Facebook it was all about posting photos and getting likes, how many friends everyone had – something that I became very bored with and uninterested in quickly.

Now, Facebook, a platform I still enjoy using, is used to ‘scroll’, mindlessly looking through posts from friends or the sites I follow dotted with a few partially tailored adverts. Facebook has been around for so long now, it is an easy platform to use and has almost just become a part of a daily, comforting, routine.

So which one is your favourite and why?

Instagram is one of my other favorite platforms, slightly newer, but has now easily slotted next to Facebook as one of my daily ‘scrollers’. Instagram is all about the aesthetic, and so really allows you just to scroll without thinking and then liking if you find it visually interesting or funny etc. I can easily say Instagram is my favorite platform and I think this has to do with the simplicity of it. You follow people or pages or companies that you like and you get to see stuff to do with them, it’s an easy time killer. I could easily spend hours just scrolling and finding more and more people to follow. Also I love Instagram because it allows you to create your own image through photos that you edit to your heart’s content.

 I now use Instagram more to express myself than I do Facebook.

Do you engage with your fave brands on social?

Yes, always. Like I have mentioned Instagram is my most used platform, and my feed is filled with the brands I love. The first thing it asks you to do when you create a profile is to follow some people or brands you like. For me, this was clothing brands, makeup brands, and specific magazines (national geographic for uni). When looking for future careers I would follow companies that I aspired to, a lot of these had pages dedicated to young people and careers, for example, c4Talent.

On Instagram, there are many people I follow that team up with brands to promote or release specialized products – posting photos with these products, I would then usually follow that brand.

When there is a specific brand that you love, it is great to be able to actually see new products or events, as a lot of brands share photos of other Instagrammers wearing or using their products.

Active Instagram Users Growth Since 2013

philosophi-news- instagram stats - statista

Source: Statista

What do you spend most of your money on and how often do you do online shopping

Most of my money is spent clothes, that I’ve convinced myself I need, plus odd bits of makeup as a treat. Considering my student status, I only actually purchase 10% of the products I put in my virtual cart. I find myself spending a lot of time thinking ‘do I really need this?’ ‘Will I use it enough?’. For me to buy something that isn’t essential, only an amazing advertising campaign that makes me think that a mascara will change my life, or just a really good deal (discount code) will push me over the edge.

And so, although I spend A LOT of time browsing the amount stuff I actually purchase is very little.

Where does that journey begin?

Usually, the journey begins one of two ways. Firstly with an email about a deal. Pretty much all online stores now encourage you to sign up to emails for discounts (yep I’m in, you said discount), and so the amount of emails I get from various fashion stores and makeup brands is crazy. However, when a really good deal catches my eye I usually click. As an example, all tops now under £10 or exclusive one day 30% student discount, or free delivery on all products usually gets me to click.

The second is through an advert, usually on Instagram, so I’d  scroll through their products and see a very easy and obvious link to ‘shop now’. Again with Instagram these photos are usually really strong or at least professional and so catch your eye enough for you stop scrolling.

What powers the ultimate buying decision?

For me, to push me to be ready for online shopping it is as simple as a good deal. Stupidly, it doesn’t really matter if I could still get it cheaper somewhere else, the fact that this top is reduced from £30 to £15 means I am buying it. To me that is a bargain even if I can get that top for £5 at Primark.

The words DEAL or even better EXCLUSIVE DEAL is a goldmine for a student.

Are you influenced by your friends more or celebs?

Personally, I care a lot about what my friends think, and I trust their fashion sense and advice, considering mine isn’t always on point. If they see a post on Instagram or Facebook or just online we usually share it amongst us and this influences where I shop and what I buy. As far as celebrities, I am very picky about which one. If there is a celeb that I don’t like or agree with then I might actually be put off by them. There are many products I have gone out my way not to buy because they are endorsed by someone I don’t agree with, usually on a moral level.

Recently youtuber star Zendaya released a clothing line, during the release she hired a plus-sized model that was bullied on twitter for her size. This story immediately went viral and I know many people including myself who immediately checked out her clothing line just because of this. I immediately had respect for her and wanted to show that through owning her products.  I suppose also in a selfish way; wanting people to see and know that I share the same morals and beliefs as she does.

What are your favorite brands and why?

My favorite brands include TenTree, which is a fashion brand that is dedicated to planting ten trees for every item bought. I guess this advertising works in the same way as the Zendaya example, allowing me to support a cause I believe in. I found the page on Instagram, it was just a very cool photo that caught my eye.

Other fashion brands include Romwe (a fashion brand) that again caught my eye on Instagram and Ted Baker. For makeup, I love Bare Minerals, due to their completely organic and ‘skin friends’ brand motto, and Benefit that like Ted Baker, have a really cool brand image, and although slightly out of my budget is still a favorite.

Jewelry wise my favorite brand its Beuniki, who I found on Instagram, and instantly loved their photos and unique jewellery – which I now own a few pieces of. I also love Daniel Wellington watches, I actually received a watch as a present for Christmas. The person who bought it for me saw an advert on google and then went to the Instagram page where he found the perfect one.

I now follow the page and love all of their photos.

Do you read magazines or books (like in ye olde days)?

I honestly can’t remember the last time I read a, what did you call it? a magazine? (laughs) joking… So unless my Mum leaves one lying around when  I’m bored I won’t read one and am certainly not buying one, way too expensive. I am subscribed to a few online magazines on platforms such as Snapchat, but would never go out of my way to read one. I do still love books and switch between my kindle and paperbacks that get handed down from my Mum or Gran, unfortunately I usually do choose Netflix over a good book most of the time.

Do you get swayed by product placement in shows/films you really like to watch?

If I have to be honest I’m usually paying too much attention to the movie plot to notice product placement in movies. With me it is usually certain outfits they wear that I’ll then later be inspired by, but never specific products. The only ones I always notice are repeatedly used car brands in movies, and I’m not going out to buy a Mercedes any time soon.

Do you sign up for emails from your favorite stores?

Yes always, but not usually on purpose, like I mentioned most shops require an email and I can never work out if I should tick the box to receive emails or not although that all seems to have changed now, yay! Even then it says I can unsubscribe whenever I want, not that I would ever be bothered to do that, even if I have 200 unread emails from a shop I bought a sock from 5 years ago.

Do you actually read or click on the links in emails?

I have to say I normally ignore the emails I receive unless they are very obviously promoting a good deal, but even then it’s a timing thing. If emails pop up on my phone in morning or midday I usually immediately delete them or won’t pay much attention.  If it’s in the evening when I’m actually paying attention to my phone and in the mood for a spot of online shopping I will take time to look into it. But once I have swiped clear email from my phone’s notifications I won’t look at it again.

If emails pop up on my phone in morning or midday I usually immediately delete them or won’t pay much attention, but if it’s in the evening when I’m actually paying attention to my phone I will take time to look into it

Do you strive to be different or follow certain fashion trends?

I have always tried to be different, and can proudly say I do not own a pair of ripped jeans. However, sometimes it is too hard to avoid it. I usually stick to the motto that if I like an item I will buy it, but I would never buy something just because it is trendy. Flared trousers will never enter my wardrobe no matter how much they are ‘coming back into fashion’, never! you hear me! (laughs again).

Ok, let’s talk ‘Love Island’.. Do you think it’s a fair reflection of the 20-25 age group regarding how people date and interact these days?

Well no, don’t even get me started on how teens and young adults are portrayed in the media. Not only can you NOT generalize a whole generation into one category (Millennials, the worst demographic ever invented!), but you also can’t assume that everything on the show is even slightly real.

The old saying – you can’t trust everything you read in the news – well you can’t trust anything on reality TV shows. After watching the TV show ‘Unreal’, a fictional series about how they manipulate reality starts to say and do exactly what they want, it has completely changed my view on all reality TV. So not only are young adults being generalized but the generalizations aren’t even based on real young adults!

As addictive (and I am addicted), as shows like love Island are, it is nowhere near even a slight reflection of my age group, it’s just mindless fun and zone out tv. I hope advertisers don’t use this as a basis for promotions because trust me when I say, fake tan, fake everything and thong bikinis is not what the ‘majority’ 19-25 females live for.

Interview ends..

Further Reading

If you are interested in reading more, we have written several marketing related articles that you may be interested in:

To Improve Your Ecommerce Customer Experience

Analytics – What Can We Learn

Product Reviews – The Good, The Bad & The Ugly