If Anyone Is Going to Buy Directly from a Chatbot, It's Millennials

Millennials’ behavior, more than research, is a good indicator

Author: Alison McCarthy

February 27, 2017

There’s been a lot of buzz surrounding chatbots in retail, though this may be based more on hype than actual usage. But if there’s one particular group of adults likely to use chatbots for shopping-related activities, it’s millennials.

In a December 2016 survey by Retale, nearly 60% of US millennials said they have used a chatbot. More than half of those who had never used a chatbot said they’d be interested in trying one.

Retale—which recently launched RetaleBot, its own shopping-related bot—also found that millennials are open to making purchases from chatbots. Two-thirds of respondents said they’d be likely to buy an item directly from a chatbot, vs. only 14% who said they would not be interested in doing so.

Another firm, Sumo Heavy, in September 2016 looked at a broader swath of consumers—US internet users ages 18 to 54. About 10% of respondents reported ever using a chatbot for shopping-related activities. Half of these users said they would not use one again. And, while one-third said they’d be open to trying a chatbot, over half have no interest in using one.

Though mainstream use of chatbots for making purchases still is unlikely in the near future—even for millennials—it makes sense that this group would be the most interested in having the option available.

The biggest reasons: Millennials tend to be more tech-savvy and likely to make a purchase via their smartphone compared with older users. A survey from Bronto Software and Ipsos found more than six in 10 millennial internet users purchase products via their smartphones, while 58% of 35- to 44-year-olds do so; just 31% of respondents ages 45 to 54 said the same.