Key Trends in Online Shopping Habits in the US

How often do US shoppers buy from online channels?

Data Headlines

  • Almost one in three (32%) US shoppers buy items online at least once a week
  • More than one in three (36%) male shoppers buy at least once a week compared to female shoppers (29%).
  • Almost two in five (39%) Generation Xers 35-44 buy items online every week

Shoppers buy items online more often than in the past. More than nine in ten (93%) shoppers buy more than once in a year. Online shopping is no longer a one-off occurrence. Less than one in ten (7%) buy items online only for seasonal shopping.

Shoppers buy items online on a weekly and/or monthly basis. More than seven in ten (73%) shoppers buy several times in any given month. Weekly buyers account for almost one in three (32%) of all shoppers. More than two in five (41%) shoppers buy items online several times a month.

Male shoppers buy more often online. More than one in three (36%) male shoppers buy at least once a week. In comparison, less than three in ten (29%) female shoppers buy on a weekly basis. The trend is similar for monthly online shoppers. Men (43%) are more likely to buy more than once online in a month compared to women (39%).

Young millennials (18-24) are not the heaviest online shoppers. Over one in five (22%) in the segment buy items at least once a week. Older Generation Xers (45-54) are more likely to buy weekly. Almost three in ten (29%) in the latter segment buy one or more items online in a week.

Young Generation Xers (35-44) are most frequent online shoppers. Almost two in five (39%) buy items online every week. Older millennials (25-34) are the next most frequent online shoppers. A similar proportion (38%) buy items online at least once a week.

In summary, older millennials (25-34) are the heaviest online shoppers. More than four in five (83%) in this segment buy several times from online channels within a month. Young Generation Xers (35-44) are the next most frequent shoppers. Three in four (75%) in this demographic group go online and buy more than once in a month.

Which online channels do US Shoppers prefer to shop from?

Data Headlines

  • Large retailer site is most preferred channel for Millennials (76%), Gen Xers (76%), Boomers (74%), and Seniors (66%).
  • Baby Boomers (59%) are more likely than other generations to buy from online marketplaces
  • Category-specific online channels appeal most to Seniors (44%)

Shoppers across generations prefer to buy online from large retailers. Amazon, WalMart, Target are examples of large retailer channels. More than three in four (76%) Millennials buy from large retailer websites. An identical proportion of Generation Xers (76%) also prefer to buy from large retailers. Baby Boomers (74%) are just behind Millennials in shopping from large retailers. Seniors are the least likely demographic to buy online from large retailers. Two in three Seniors prefer to buy from large retailers.

Online marketplaces like eBay are the next most preferred channels. Baby Boomers (59%) and Gen Xers (56%) are most likely to buy from online marketplaces. More than half of Seniors (51%) prefer to buy from online marketplaces. Millennials (48%) are the least likely segment to buy from online marketplaces.

Another channel popular among shoppers is web stores. Web stores are individual websites that sell a small range items. At times it could even be just one product – such as a book. Generation Xers are the most interested in buying from web stores. Almost half of Generation Xers (49%) buy from web stores. Millennials (46%) and Baby Boomers (42%) also show reasonable interest in web stores. Only three in ten Seniors buy from web stores.

The final channel from where shoppers buy is category specific websites. Websites that sell baby products or outdoor equipment are some examples. Seniors are the most likely to buy from such websites. More than two in five (44%) Seniors buy from category specific websites. Baby Boomers (39%) and Gen Xers (37%) show some interest in buying from these websites. Millennials (29%) are the least likely to buy from category specific websites.

How do US shoppers become aware of brands & products they buy?

Data Headlines

  • 39% of US shoppers become aware of products they buy on TV
  • 18% of US shoppers discover new products online
  • In-store ads drive product awareness for 1 in 10 US shoppers

A shopper’s path-to-purchase begins with the Awareness stage. In this stage shoppers research their options and discover products they end up buying. Various media channels play a key role in bringing about product awareness.

TV continues to be the top source of product awareness among US shoppers. Almost two in five (39%) US shoppers become aware of products they buy via television. Television’s dominance will continue as audiences watch more TV on computers and mobile devices.

Not surprising that online is now a key source of product awareness behind television. Just under one in five (18%) US shoppers become aware of products they buy via online channels. Online news and blog sites are a key source of product discovery. E-commerce websites like Amazon and eBay have emerged as online window shopping portals. Social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter help shoppers discover products faster than ever. Video sharing sites like YouTube have become a trusted window of new product information. Online will soon challenge TV as the mobile ecosystem evolves. Smarter shopping and comparison apps will help shoppers discover products on-the-go.

Physical stores haven’t lost relevancy in the digital age. One in ten shoppers become aware of products via in-store ads. Another one in ten gain awareness via magazines and newspapers.


Get the Full Report Now

The Role of Digital in US Shopper’s Path-to-Purchase What online touchpoints and devices drive pre-purchase research?

Get the Full Report

Find out how shoppers use smartphones to carry out pre-purchase research and more.

Share this article

Leave a Comment