For Mobile Shopping, a Generational Divide

Younger shoppers prefer mobile apps over websites

Author: Rahul Chadha

November 27, 2017

Apps are outdoing the mobile web when it comes to the shopping preferences of US smartphone users. 

A new study released by App Annie and Button found that a majority of smartphone users in the US prefer to make purchases on native apps, rather than the web.

But there were some significant generational differences in those preferences. For example, millennials favored shopping apps by the widest margin, with 62% partial to them over the web. Over half (53%) of Gen Xers also bent toward native apps.

Smartphone users in these cohorts clearly find some utility in the convenience mobile apps can offer, such as better navigation , saved login credentials, faster loading times and saved payment details. Those factors appealed strongly to millennials, in particular, according to Button and App Annie.

The bias toward mobile apps did not carry over to baby boomers, however. Smartphone users in that group actually preferred to do their mobile shopping on the web. But baby boomers were also less likely than other generations to have made a purchase on a mobile device at all. Only 63% of respondents in that cohort had done so—fewer than the average of 76% among all age groups.

A survey of mobile app users in the US conducted by business-to-business (B2B) research firm Clutch in Q2 2017 found a host of other reasons that respondents used mcommerce apps. At the top of the list was marketing messaging: People really liked to receive deals and offers via their apps.

But those polled also named flexibility in purchasing options and the ability to compare products and prices as some of the top reasons for using these apps. However, it should be noted that Clutch’s data reflected a survey group including both smartphone and tablet users.

eMarketer estimates US retail mcommerce sales will total $156.28 billion this year and grow to $420.17 billion by 2021.