Online boom from Baby Boomers | KPMG | UK
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Online boom from Baby Boomers

Online boom from Baby Boomers

Analysis of the KPMG's global online consumer report.


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KPMG’s global online consumer report, which analyses the online shopping preferences and behaviours of more than 18,000 consumers in 51 countries, has revealed that Baby Boomers (born between 1946 and 1965) are the generation that spend the most online while Millennials (born between 1982 and 2001) spend the least. 

Despite the common belief that the upswing in online shopping is largely driven by the younger and more ’tech-savvy‘ Millennials, Generation X consumers (born between 1966 and 1981) in fact made 20% more purchases last year than their younger counterparts.

Liz Claydon, UK Head of Consumer Markets at KPMG, commented: 

“Naturally stage of life and income levels are primary factors in driving both online and offline shopping habits. Generation X consumers, many of whom are more established in their careers and may be building homes and families, are likely buying more consumer goods than the younger Millennials. What’s more, due to structural quirks in the economy, a substantial proportion of wealth is concentrated in the older generations which means Baby Boomers have more disposable income than their younger counterparts. 

“Clearly the older generations should therefore not be underestimated in the context of ecommerce made even more apparent in our analysis which showed that Baby Boomers matched the digital-first Millennial generation in making on average 15 online transactions a year but spent on average $30 more per transaction.

“However, Millennials are significantly disrupting traditional shopping habits. They are very unlikely to be influenced by online advertising but the most likely to consult a blog or peer review before making a purchase. This means retailers need to find new and innovative ways to entice the younger generations to continue buying online.

“It also means that the perils of getting it wrong, be it a faulty product, bad customer service, or disjointed process can have a serious impact on Millennials’ decision making, particularly if any negative feedback makes it onto a review board.”

Millennials are not only more likely than the older generations to be influenced by online sources such as social media or peer reviews—they are also more likely to be influenced by offline channels when considering a purchase. According to KPMG’s report, Millennials were nearly 50% more likely than Baby Boomers to research a product by visiting a store or discussing the idea with friends or family. 

Liz added: “Convenience is the main motivation for online shopping but it’s clear ecommerce is not an online-only affair anymore. Both online and offline channels are effective in creating consumer awareness and demand, especially when used together. This means we should see companies becoming channel agnostic, so that it does not matter where purchasing decisions starts, what matters is that all channels are seamlessly connected in order to offer the utmost in consumer convenience.”

How did UK customers compare to the rest of the World? 

KPMG analysis found that UK consumers were more likely to compare prices before making their purchase.  Globally 27.3% of respondents noted price as the major factor and 64.9% of respondents researched more information on price. However, in the UK this increased to 32.1% and 72% respectively. 

Perhaps as a result, UK consumers took notably longer than their global counterparts in making a purchase decision. Globally, only 1.7% of respondents took more than 3 months to make a purchase, whilst in the UK this rose to 2.6%. 

Adrian Clamp, UK Head of Customer Advisory, commented:

“The British customer is more informed than ever but they have also binged on a diet of discounts for some time now. For retailers this has come at the expense of increasingly squeezed margins in an effort to compete for market share. 

“However, according to our research 65% of respondents cited excellent customer support as the top attribute for obtaining and retaining customer loyalty. Companies should find ways to provide exceptional customer support online which could in turn lead to loyalty in an environment where it can be challenging to stand out. With less and less wiggle room to compete on price, providing superior customer service, assistance and advice online could therefore become the differentiators for customers, regardless of age.”

The full report – KPMG: The truth about online consumers, can be found here


Notes to editors: 

For media enquiries, please contact:

Jess Liebmann, KPMG Corporate Communications

T: 0207 311 3245

M: 07551 135778


KPMG Press Office:

Tel:  +44 (0) 207 694 8773


KPMG International commissioned Intuit Research to conduct a survey of global online shoppers about their purchase behaviour, purchase drivers, and perceptions and attitudes towards online shopping. The sample consisted of consumers aged 15 to 70 years old that made at least one online purchase in the past 12 months and who were within the top 65% of income earners in their country. The survey was conducted using an online questionnaire. A total of 18.430 qualified responses were received from 51 different countries. Within each country, the sample was weighted to the same age distribution to ensure the country comparison showed behavioural differences rather than those caused by differences in demographic make-up of the population surveyed in each country. 

About KPMG

KPMG LLP, a UK limited liability partnership, operates from 22 offices across the UK with approximately 13,500 partners and staff.  The UK firm recorded a revenue of £2.07 billion in the year ended 30 September 2016. KPMG is a global network of professional firms providing Audit, Tax, and Advisory services. It operates in 152 countries and has 189,000 professionals working in member firms around the world. The independent member firms of the KPMG network are affiliated with KPMG International Cooperative ("KPMG International"), a Swiss entity.  Each KPMG firm is a legally distinct and separate entity and describes itself as such.


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