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The Modern Buyer: How Millennials Shop Now

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Verified Blogger
Verified Blogger
Last Edited 11:23:14 AM by Verified Blogger

This is our next installment in “The Modern Buyer” blog series. In this article, we’re exploring the current global shopping habits of millennials—the largest generation ever born.


Born between 1980 and 2000, millennials are the largest group of shoppers in the world. According to Accenture, 75.4 million live in the US, where they spend $600 billion each year. And, forecasters say that by 2020 they’ll represent $1.4 trillion dollars. Simply put, millennials are a massive group, with a lot of spending power—and they’re only going to become more important in the future.


Millennials are trendsetters known for changing patterns in industries ranging from fashion to food, but while they are the first truly digital generation, they also have remarkable similarities with the baby boomers born five decades before them.


Like the boomer generation, they came of age during a recession and care deeply about value. And as a generation that’s grown up with the internet, they expect ease and convenience.


So, how can you ensure that your listings and business practices are Millennial-friendly? Here are some things to consider as you develop selling strategies to appeal to this large group of buyers.


Caveat: while millennials as a group reflect these characteristics, we know that not all millennials are the same (in fact, a study done by Pew Research found millennials to be more diverse than any other generation) and not all of these strategies will work will work for every seller. These tips are a starting point as you develop practices that will help your business stay relevant for years to come.


Millennials are mobile.


Millennials grew up with the internet, so it’s no surprise that 47% of millennials do most of their shopping online. 63% say they make a purchase on their phone every day. According to Forbes, “Millennials have grown up and matured with mobile technology and expect to be able to use it in every aspect of their life. The convenience of the mobile device is paramount to this group.”


What eBay sellers can do: Mobile-friendly listings are important for all buyers, but even more so when it comes to attracting millennials who expect to be able to shop on their phones. Make sure your pictures looks great and your listings are easy to read when viewed on phone screens.


Millennials are heavily influenced by reviews and word-of-mouth.


According to Synchrony Financial, “Millennials have a greater need than Boomers for peer acceptance, connecting with their peers, fitting in and social networking. As a result, Millennials are much more likely to value word-of-mouth (what friends, relatives, and colleagues recommend) as a top influencer of their purchases.” In fact, 82% of Millennials say word-of-mouth is a key influencer to their purchase decisions and 73% of Millennials say the read others’ opinions before purchasing.


What eBay sellers can do: Make it easy for millennials to generate word-of-mouth advocacy for your business by being present on social media and interacting with your buyers in an authentic way. Keyword: authentic. Millennials want a brand that shares their values and this generation—perhaps more than any other—is quickly turned off by what they perceived as inauthentic behavior.


Nothing beats a discount.


Millennials have 300% more student debt than their parents and are half as likely to own a home than a young adult was in 1975. Millennials aren’t all spending ridiculous amount of money on avocado toast; they’re working hard to save money to pay off debts, buy a home, and build a savings safety net. This makes then extremely cost conscious. 75% of millennials say they are more likely to purchase if they have a discount or loyalty coupon and two-thirds of millennials say they will switch brands if they are offered a discount of 30% or more.


What eBay sellers can do: Woo cost-conscious millennials by offering deals and discounts they can’t refuse. Consider running promotions on your items, such as 30%, buy one get one 25%, free shipping on orders over $50, or a codeless coupon. Get four tips on running successful promotions from a multi-million-dollar eBay seller.


Free shipping and easy returns can help close the sale.


When it comes time to buy something, 67% of millennials will choose the item that ships for free. Makes sense, right? If you find two of the same shirt for the same price, you’d likely buy the one without the extra charge for shipping. A lot of millennials feel similar.


Millennials also want easy returns, and millennials under the age of 30, in particular, place a strong emphasis on the online return experience. In a recent Narvar survey, 50% of millennial shoppers say they check the return policy before buying.


"Returns are the new normal," said Sucharita Mulpuru, a retail industry analyst. "Most shoppers are frequently returning online purchases while remaining loyal to brands if they have a positive experience. Retailers who want to remain competitive will find ways to reduce friction in the returns process, whether that's communicating more updates, providing more transparency, or offering free return shipping.”


What eBay sellers can do: Entice millennials with free shipping, and make it easy for them to return items so they feel more confident making a purchase. eBay’s data has shown that moving from no returns to a 60-day free return policy can increase conversions across all generations by up to 34%.


What does this mean for you?


Millennials have their own quirks like any generation. They’re making more online purchases than anybody, quite a few shop on their phones, and they expect fast, free delivery and easy returns.


Even so, a lot of their shopping habits feel familiar. Like most shoppers, they care how much something costs. They also care if it’s a good product. And so, if you’re interested in attracting more millennials shoppers, just a little finesse can achieve that.


In recent weeks, we’ve been diving deeper into the evolving modern buying experience, and how different generations of buyers shop. We’ve previously covered baby boomers and Generation X. Up next, a look at Generation Z.


What strategies do you employ to appeal to the evolving behaviors of millennial buyers? Join the conversation on Facebook, on Twitter @eBayforBusiness, or the eBay Community Board.