Gen Xers the Biggest Online Retail Spenders, Gen Y Most Connected

Forrester-Online-Retail-Spending-by-Generation-Dec2012With retail e-commerce setting new peaks seemingly with every passing week, and an impressive 87% of the online population visiting a retail site in November, new research from Forrester Research identifies who the biggest spenders are on an age basis. In its State of Consumers and Technology: Benchmark 2012 [download page] report, Forrester finds that more than three-quarters of the 57,499 US online adults surveyed had ordered products or services online during the previous 3 months. And while Gen Y adults (24-32) were the most likely to have done so, it was Gen Xers (33-46) who spent the most.

Specifically, 84% of Gen Yers shopped online during the 3 months prior to the survey, slightly above the roughly 8 in 10 Gen Xers who did so. But, with an average $561 in spending, Gen Xers spent about 15% more online than Gen Yers ($489), and roughly 25% more than the average online adult ($449).

While Gen Z (18-23) was about average in its propensity to shop online, its average spend stood at just $294, even less than the Golden Generation (68+; $297), and the least of all generations.

4 in 5 US Adults Are Online

Further analysis from the survey indicates that an estimated 181.9 million of the 229.6 million US adults are online, or 79.2%. Gen X sports the largest number of online adults (46.5 million), followed by Gen Y (33.4 million) and Younger Boomers (47-56; 33 million).

When it comes to connectedness, though, Gen Y moves to the fore, owning an average of 2.2 connected devices (desktop, laptop, netbook, tablet, smartphone). They’re most likely to own a tablet (25% – equal with Gen X), netbook (11%), internet-connected TV (13%), and e-reader (21%). They also sport the highest rate of smartphone adoption (72%), far ahead of Gen Z (64%) and Gen X (61%).

Other Findings:

  • Forrest predicts that the online population will grow to represent 84% of the adult population by 2016.
  • 19% of online adults own a tablet, up 11% points from 2011.
  • 10% own an internet-connected TV, up 2% points from last year.
  • Gen Zers have an average network size of 306 on Facebook, the largest of any generation. Gen X has the largest average network on LinkedIn (98) and Twitter (80).
  • The average social networker likes 9 brands on Facebook (13 for Gen Zers).

About the Data: The Forrester data is based on its North American Technographics Online Benchmark Survey (Part 1), Q2 2012 (US, Canada), in which it conducted an online survey fielded in April and May 2012 of 58,068 US and 5,635 Canadian online adults ages 18 to 88. All data contained in this article is specific to the US.