Parents Are Active Online Shoppers, Subscription Box Service Customers

November 6, 2018

The frequency with which US consumers make purchases online is growing, says Pitney Bowes in its 2018 Global Ecommerce Study [pdf]. Indeed, 30% of US respondents this year report shopping online at least weekly, a considerable uptick from 19% last year.

What’s clear from the results is that it’s not only youth who are the driving force behind e-commerce growth. It is true that Millennials (47%) are far more likely to be shopping online at least weekly than Gen X (28%) or Boomer (18%) respondents. But parents are also demonstrating far more affinity for e-commerce than their non-parent counterparts. Almost half (46%) of respondents with children in the household shop online weekly, double the share of those with no children in the household (23%).

There may be some overlap in these results considering age and likelihood of having children in the household (with Boomers less likely to have children under 18). But the results nonetheless indicate that parents offer an additional segment for marketers to target – and this data follows recent research demonstrating that parents are also at the forefront of new tech adoption.

The same demographic patterns apply to subscription box enrollment. Some 27% of online shoppers surveyed said they’re enrolled in at least one subscription box service, a figure that’s almost twice as high among Millennials (51%).

Once again, respondents with children in the household are far more likely than those without to report enrollment in a subscription box service (47% and 19%, respectively).

Brand-Agnostic Shoppers More Likely to Visit Marketplaces

The Pitney Bowes study reveals that shoppers who don’t know what brand or product they want to buy are turning more to subscription box services this year than last. At the same time, few online shoppers say that they fit that description when it comes to their shopping behavior.

For the most part, shoppers say that they engage in brand-conscious shopping, in that they either know the brand and product they want (46%) or the brand, but not the product (15%). By contrast, about 40% of online shopping is brand-agnostic, either knowing the product but not the brand (23%) or knowing neither the brand nor product they want to buy (e.g. just browsing).

These brand-agnostic purchases are more likely to be made from online marketplaces than from online retailers and brands, while the opposite is true for brand-conscious shopping. That’s a fairly logical result, and is backed up by research showing that people turn to marketplaces for product variety and to brands more for product quality and innovation.

Overall, online marketplaces have the upper hand over online retailers and brands in terms of shopping popularity, with the 60:40 ratio consistent across demographic groups.

About the Data: The results are based on survey of more than 13,000 consumers in 12 markets, of whom 94% shop online. The data contained in this article is limited to respondents in the US.

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