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Critical Differences In Digital Shopping Habits Between Age Groups Identified By IAB Report

18-34 Year-Olds Primarily Choose Smartphones for Retail Activities, While 35-54 Year-Olds Prefer Tablets

Half of U.S. Adults Engage in Showrooming, With Younger Consumers Prone to Purchase in Another Retail Store or Online

NEW YORK, NY (November 30, 2015) — Distinctions that are crucial to marketers and media agencies for reaching different age groups in the U.S. are identified in a study released today by the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB), the “IAB Digital Shopping Report,” a custom IAB analysis of Prosper Insight data. The report shows that younger adults, ages 18-34, are more likely to favor smartphones for retail activities than any other age group. While overall, consumers are more likely to purchase using a tablet (35%) than a smartphone (28%), this younger generation is more inclined to make purchases using their smartphones (43% vs. 35% on a tablet). In comparison, those 35-54 are more apt to use a tablet for their shopping needs and are more apt to make purchases on those devices (41% vs. 35% general population).

Other key differences include:

  • 18-34 year olds are more likely to read a product review on their smartphones (44% vs. 32% general population) and less likely to do so on tablets (32%).  They’re also inclined to check prices on a smartphone (42% vs. 33% general population) and are less likely to do so on a tablet (32%).
  • Those who are 35-54 are more prone to use tablets to read product reviews, locate stores, check store hours, and check product pricing (40% vs. 35% general population).
  • Adults ages 55-64 are more than twice as likely to make a purchase on a tablet (34%) than on a smartphone (15%).
  • Consumers 65+ are more than twice as likely to make a purchase on a tablet (26%) than on a smartphone (11%).  They are also nearly twice as likely to read a product review on a tablet (31%) than on a smartphone (17%).

The “IAB Digital Shopping Report” finds that half of U.S. adults regularly conduct some form of showrooming, defined in this study as comparing prices on a mobile device while in a retail store before purchasing. The most likely outcome of the typical showroomer after checking prices is to buy in a physical store (57%) – whether at the current retailer’s or another retailer’s store. The next likely scenario is to buy from another store’s website (53%) – either on a mobile device in store or a computer after leaving. Those 18-34 are the likeliest group to showroom (67%), and when they do so they are prone to make purchases from another retailer, whether at a physical store, using a mobile device, or using a computer after leaving. In contrast, over half (53%) of 35-54 year olds showroom, and have an equal likelihood of buying in the store or at a competitor’s store. Showroomers 55+, however, are more apt to simply buy in the same brick-and-mortar retailer where they are engaged in showrooming activities.

Use of comparison shopping apps is also a critical differentiator among the generations, with consumers 55-64 most inclined to use one (44%). The age group just below them, age 35-54, are the least likely to tap into those sorts of apps (39%).

“The use of digital and mobile devices as a core component of the shopping experience occurs slightly differently by age groups,” said Sherrill Mane, Senior Vice President, Research, Analytics, and Measurement, IAB. “If marketers and retailers want to reach the right audiences at the right time in the purchase cycle, they are going to need to understand these distinctions.”

“With the holiday shopping season in full swing, consumers are turning to smartphones and tablets throughout the gift-buying process,” said Anna Bager, Senior Vice President and General Manger, Mobile and Video, IAB. “This report spotlights contrasts in how different generations shop on digital – significant differences that need to be considered in brand marketers’ strategies.”

To download the “IAB Digital Shopping Report,” go to .


The report is derived from the Prosper Insights & Analytics Monthly Consumer Study (October 2015) of 7276 respondents surveyed online and the annual 2015 Media Behaviors & Influence™ (MBI) Study of 16,228 respondents surveyed online. The studies have a margin of error of 1%, at a 99% confidence level.

About Prosper Insight™

Prosper Insight delivers customized timely market intelligence from various sources through its cloud-based technology-driven Integrated Solutions Platform. Solutions are delivered on multiple devices (PC/Tablet/Smartphone) though the InsightCenter™ tool using diverse information sources relevant to clients’ business needs.

About the IAB

The Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) empowers the media and marketing industries to thrive in the digital economy. It is comprised of more than 650 leading media and technology companies that are responsible for selling, delivering, and optimizing digital advertising or marketing campaigns. Together, they account for 86 percent of online advertising in the United States. Working with its member companies, the IAB develops technical standards and best practices and fields critical research on interactive advertising, while also educating brands, agencies, and the wider business community on the importance of digital marketing. The organization is committed to professional development and elevating the knowledge, skills, expertise, and diversity of the workforce across the industry. Through the work of its public policy office in Washington, D.C., the IAB advocates for its members and promotes the value of the interactive advertising industry to legislators and policymakers. Founded in 1996, the IAB is headquartered in New York City and has a West Coast office in San Francisco.

IAB Media Contact
Laura Goldberg
[email protected]