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Online Shopping in 2020 / GenZs vs. Millennials: Focus on Malaysia

Updated: Apr 9, 2020

Malaysia is a digital leader in Southeast Asia. Over 80% of the country's adults are online meaning that it has a digital population of over 26 million people.

Additionally, the country's ecommerce market is valued at US$4 billion, nearly the size of the internet economy of neighbouring Thailand whose population is twice the size as Malaysia's.

These figures, however, are for the current generation of adult shoppers. What about Malaysia's upcoming generations? Are they as digitally ready and eager to spend online as their predecessors?

To find out, ClickInsights, in partnership with Adobe, recently surveyed consumers across Southeast Asia to learn about the current state of online shopping in the region. Responses were divided into two groups: those aged 16 to 22, also known as Generation Z or 'GenZ', and those aged 23 to 37, the 'Millennials'.

Below are summary results from Malaysian respondents from both generations which provide insights into the digital behaviour of the country's next generations.

To see results from the other Southeast Asian countries, please download the full report here: Southeast Asia Online Shopping in 2020: GenZs vs. Millennials.

Malaysia's younger generations shop online often

One of the report's main goals was to understand how much do Malaysia's younger generations shop online. Is it only for special items, or are they already buying online habitually?

Respondents indicated that shopping online has become part of their lifestyle. Nearly two in three (61%) of GenZs shop online at least two times a month and nearly all (88%) of Millennials said the same.

Over one in four (27%) Millennials shop online every week - a figure that has surely increased since the outbreak of Covid-19.

GenZs in Malaysia prefer Instagram, Millennials stick with Facebook (and websites)

While the two, younger generation of Malaysians are alike in their love for online shopping, they are quite different in how they spend their time online.

When asked where they spend at least 30 minutes per day, more than 3 in 4 (76%) GenZs replied Instagram as opposed to only around half (51%) who said the same about Facebook.

For Millennials, however, slightly more use Facebook (60%) every day than Instagram (57%) as frequently.

There was a much more significant difference between generations regarding websites, though. More than half (58%) of Millennials surf the web for more than 30 minutes per day whereas just over one in three (38%) GenZs said the same.

Both, however, have yet to adopt the latest social media sensation, TikTok. Fewer than 1 in 5 (18% Z, 13% M) use it regularly - perhaps leaving it for the under 16s (Generation Alpha).

Malaysian Millennials are more 'influenced' than GenZs - especially for travel

Influencers are becoming an increasingly important channel for marketers in SEA. Reason being that they offer some hope for marketers to be heard by consumers above the daily deluge of online advertisements. But, do the younger generations really care what influencers think?

The answer is a resounding 'yes'. Both GenZs and Millennials in Malaysia find influencers 'helpful' for a wide variety of products. More than half of GenZs said influencers are useful when shopping for clothing, electronics and smartphones - and around the same percentage of Millennials said the same.

Millennials, however, were more likely to find influencers useful than GenZs for other categories such as beauty products, food/beverages. The greatest gap, though, was for travel destinations. More than half (53%) of Malaysia's Millennials look to online celebrities for travel advice where fewer than two in five (39%) of GenZs do the same.

Travel marketers should, therefore, become familiar with Malaysian travel influencers and be ready to partner with them to reach the country's Millennials when Covid-19 travel restrictions are lifted.

Malaysia’s GenZs worry about fakes, Millennials fit

Malaysia's younger generations did not only have positive thing to say about online shopping. More than half (59% Z, 56% M) expressed concerns about the quality of goods they received.

GenZs, however, were far more likely than Millennials to worry about receiving counterfeit goods. Nearly 3 in 5 (57%) of the younger generation listed 'fakes' as their primary concern, as opposed to fewer than half (44%) of the older generation. This could be a sign that GenZs are more brand conscious than Millennials in the country, so brand marketers should make extra effort to ensure younger shoppers know where to buy the genuine article online.

Millennials, on the other hand, were more concerned about their online purchases being the right size. Half of the older generation listed 'fit' as their primary concern when buying goods over the internet. Apparently, they have concluded that while fakes are a disappointment, not being able to wear their online purchases is an even bigger problem. Brands selling apparel to Millennials in the country should take steps to ensure their products are appropriately sized - and easy to return, just in case.

Ecommerce in Malaysia is set to grow in 2020

While Malaysian GenZs and Millennials do not see eye-to-eye on everything regarding online shopping, one topic for which they agree wholeheartedly is the future of ecommerce in the country.

When asked whether they will spend more online in 2020, more than 2 in 3 (69%) of GenZs and 3 in 4 (76%) Millennials responded that indeed they would.

So, while our report highlights numerous differences in online shopping behaviours between generations in Malaysia - and indeed across all of SEA - one area which they all agree is that they will be doing more of it in 2020.

For much more, please download our report here: Southeast Asia Online Shopping in 2020: GenZs vs. Millennials.


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