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Online Shopping in 2020 GenZs vs. Millennials: Focus on Singapore

Singapore is an outlier in any comparative study of the major Southeast Asian (SEA) economies. The city-state could easily fit into any one of the other countries' provinces and its population is less than a fifth of the next biggest neighbour.

Yet despite its small size, Singapore income per head (GNI per capita) is more than 5 times larger than any other country in the region.

But does all this income translate into more online shopping? Or does Singapore's small size mean its citizens are still addicted to its many shopping malls?

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 respondents from Singapore, representing both generations, which provide insights into the digital behaviour of the country's next generations.

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

1) Millennials are big online buyers, GenZs less so

When asked about how often they use ecommerce, nearly 3 in 4 (74%) Millennials responded that they buy online at least a couple of times a month and more than 1 in 4 (28%) do so every week.

This is far more than their younger cohorts. Only just over half (55%) of Singaporean GenZs shop online more than a few times a year and only around 1 in 9 (12%) purchase from ecommerce vendors every week.

While this gap is significant, the difference between the two generations' online shopping habits is in line with regional averages. This means that the likelihood that a member of the younger generations is a frequent online shopper is probably more influenced by age than by affluence.

2) Instagram has overtaken Facebook as the most popular social network in Singapore for younger generations

Respondents were also asked about where they spent time online in order to ascertain which channels brands should be using to reach them.

For GenZs, the social network of choice is Instagram. Nearly 4 in 5 (79%) of GenZ respondents indicated that they spend more than 30 minutes every day on the platform.

Millennials were less enthusiastic about Instagram (56% spend 30 minutes each day on the platform) but, interestingly, they were even less interested in Facebook. Only just over half (51%) spend significant time on the social site, far less than the SEA regional average (63%).

Singaporean GenZs, too, appear to be less interested in Facebook that their regional peers with only around 1 in 4 (26%) spending 30 minutes per day on it, which is around half of the SEA regional average for their generation (51%).

3) Free streaming video is the channel of choice for young Singaporean shoppers

Another noteworthy result from our questions about the platforms on which the young generations spend their time is that very few are watching TV. Only 2 in 5 (41%) Millennials spend more than 30 minutes per day on broadcast TV and that figure shrinks to 15% for GenZs.

So, what, instead, is taking up their media time? Streaming video. Nearly 9 in 10 (89%) GenZs and 2 in 3 (64%) Millennials watch more than 30 minutes of free streaming video each day.

As so many of Singapore's younger generation now prefer online streaming to TV, expect media budgets - and cost per view - to be rebalanced, accordingly.

4) GenZs in Singapore are big online clothes shoppers

While GenZs buy less frequently than their Millennial peers, they are more likely to buy clothes online than the older generation.

When asked whether their next apparel purchase will be online, more Singapore GenZs than Millennials said their next shopping 'trip' will be online.

Half (50%) of GenZ respondents will buy their next apparel accessory online and nearly the same amount (47%) will purchase their next item of clothing via ecommerce. Shoes, too, are a popular online purchase for the youngest generation of shoppers with more than 1 in 3 (38%) indicating that their next pair of footwear will come from an online shop. These figures are all greater than their Millennials peers (41% accessories, 44% clothing, 27% shoes).

Marketers, however, should not abandon their 23-37s, however. When asked whether they spent more than $100 on these categories in 2019, Singaporean Millennials were far more likely than GenZs to respond yes, across all categories.

Offline shopping, therefore, still seems to be popular with Millennials, but the trend for increased online shopping sprees was clear, even before the current 'stay at home' situation.

5) GenZs look for inspiration from influencers

Despite spending less on apparel online, GenZs are more likely to rely on social media influencers for purchase ideas.

More than half (58%) of GenZs in Singapore said that they find influencers 'helpful' when shopping for clothing online and around 1 in 3 said the same for shoes (35%) and accessories (31%).

Millennials were slightly less impressed with internet celebrity opinions about what to wear, yet still, more than 1 in 4 find them 'helpful' when shopping for clothing (40%), accessories (29%) and shoes (26%).

Brands seeking to sell apparel and related items to the younger generations of Singapore are encouraged, therefore, to seek out relevant influencers for assistance.

6) Millennials will definitely spend more online in 2020, GenZs, perhaps

Finally, our survey asked respondents to look into the future and guess how their online spending will change in 2020. Will it be more or less than what they spent on ecommerce in 2019?

For Singapore Millennials, the response was quite clear - more. Nearly 7 in 10 (69%) of the older cohort said that they will be spending more money online in the coming year.

GenZs, however, weren't quite as sure. Over 2 in 5 (43%) estimated that they will not be increasing their online spend in 2020. While that is still less than half, it is more than the SEA average for their regional peers (37%).

Still, the survey was taken before people across the region were asked to remain at home, so it is likely that more Zs will spend more online in 2020 than they may have thought!

To learn much more about the generational differences in online shopping behaviour across Southeast Asia, please download the full report here: Southeast Asia Online Shopping in 2020: GenZs vs. Millennials.


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