Is Mobile the Future Destination of E-Commerce for Young Consumers?

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The impact of smartphone revolution seems to have maximum impact on the youth or generation Z, as some people like to call them. The way mobile apps have proven their utility, especially among young people is simply unprecedented. From games to messaging to even taking online classes, apps have become extremely handy tools for these young guns. In other words, the smartphone has truly become an extension of their hands. According to a report, 65% of millennials interact digitally more than they do in the real world.

Today’s youth is harnessing the power of various social media channels for a variety of purposes such as interacting with the world, showcasing their fashion sense or learning new things. They are particularly shaping the e-commerce industry in a new way because of being the savviest group of fresh consumers. Constantly connected and always operating online, this group wants brands and experiences aligned with personal values. According to a report published on ShangaiDaily, the e-commerce penetration rate in China is going to double by 2020 because young generation is set to power the e-commerce industry. Even around the world, increasing mobile penetration across all demographics, especially youth, many businesses are going more mobile and making the most of the virtual marketplace.

More and more data coming from various sources confirm that younger buyers are more likely to use mobile devices for shopping as compared to the older ones. According to a recent survey conducted by Bronto, 65% of people belonging to the age group 18-24 said they use their smartphones for shopping; as do 63% of those ages 25-34, and 58% of those aged 35-44. After that, the percentage is dropping considerably as age increases. With this continuous addition of young force to the e-commerce pool, it is estimated that by 2020 e-commerce sales will climb to $684 billion in the United States.

Talking about young population and e-commerce trends, how can India remain behind? India has the biggest youth population which is adopting e-commerce quickly. Indian youth are comfortable using technology and preferring to shop online. From books and apparel to FMCG goods, everything is being sold online today. According to data released by India Brand Equity Foundation (IBEF), the retail industry in India is expected to grow to US$ 1.3 trillion by 2020. This means it is the fastest growing retail industry in the world.

By observing these rising trends, it is safe to predict that the future of retail e-commerce is mobile armed by the youth. With that, the social media consumerism is cultivating a crop of scrappy brands that are promoted by many entrepreneurs, particularly for the young generation. In the meantime, they are skipping the computer altogether, instead of displaying and selling products exclusively through smartphones. The two prime reasons for this entrepreneurial paradigm shift are video and Instagram – both have had a profound impact on how young consumers shop.

Impact of Instagram on Youth and E-Commerce

There is no doubt that social media has a deep impact on today’s youth culture. YouTube and Instagram are among the most prominent ones since photo and video sharing seems the most preferred activity on social media. As a matter of fact, visual is king in Generation Z; so an image or video on Instagram reflects the youth’s desire for show-off and instant self-gratification. As it goes without saying, “a picture tells a thousand words”, visuals remove the clutter and delay of text, thereby making them more appealing.

As of now, Instagram has over 800 million monthly active users, and with such a massive audience, influencers are also greatly impacting the young generation. When an image or a video that is accompanied by a few words of hashtags on an Instagram feed, it readily gets across to other users on its own. One of the unique features of Instagram is that it has got two platforms inside one. What goes in the Instagram main feed is often completely different from what shows up in Instagram Stories. So content put on both these platforms only increases the engagement on Instagram.

Instagram has also become a powerful platform for influencer marketing. As opposed to traditional endorsements coming from celebrities, today’s influencers have built their audiences through sharing compelling content through social channels like Instagram. When these influencers endorse certain brands, the youth readily turn into new consumers in significant numbers.

Brands are increasingly betting on micro influence. Social media channels like Facebook, YouTube and Instagram are providing brands opportunity to target niche audiences by working with micro influencers. The higher level of engagement with the young audience is also dependent upon engaging, relevant and lead generation content. Creating and sharing great content has helped influencers amass thousands or millions of fans, while brands have also found a new way of advertising their products or services.

Living life in pictures and videos while showing various facets of personality has become a cool trend for generation Z, which was only made easier and possible with the latest technology of smartphones. All they are doing is visualizing, planning and achieving it by either posting videos on YouTube or snapping photos for an Instagram account. This explains how and why mobile tech enables visuals to dominate internet retail.


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