52% of Young Consumers Bought from International Online Brands During Pandemic

52% of Young Consumers Bought from International Online Brands During Pandemic

Many purchases were for products that shoppers would typically try on or test before buying
father and daughter shopping online

Across the globe, more people stayed inside and shopped online because of COVID-19 pandemic-related shutdowns. New findings show that consumers — especially younger ones — are turning to international retailers instead of domestic ones to provide them with the products they want and need.

E-commerce service provider eShopWorld (ESW) found in its latest survey that just over half — 52% — of younger consumers ages 25 to 34 purchased products online during the coronavirus crisis. And this percentage increased to 58% for shoppers ages 25 to 44.

Consumers shop international e-commerce brands during pandemic shutdowns

The ESW report reveals that shutdowns prompted much of this movement toward international e-commerce during the pandemic, with 46% of consumers (and 52% of consumers ages 25 to 34) citing this as why they bought from an international retailer.

Over the past six months, most of these purchases were for "high-contact" items — ones that, under normal circumstances, shoppers would have tried on or tested before buying — including:

  • Clothing (25%)
  • Footwear (19%)
  • Luxury goods (18%)
  • Skin care (17%)
  • Health and beauty (17%)
  • Fragrances (16%)
  • Cosmetics (16%)

This breakdown of purchases by category lines up with a Coinstar survey that shows consumers began to show greater interest in clothing and self-care purchases as social distancing guidelines eased.

But in the future, many shoppers expect a return to in-store shopping at least some of the time.

Nearly 6 in 10 consumers (57%) agree that the pandemic made them more conscious of the convenience and options available when shopping online. However, 71% say they would use a mix of physical and digital channels to buy the products they need once the pandemic is over.

Feel-good purchases account for increases in some spending categories

Luxury purchases saw the greatest uptick (6%) among the top five international e-commerce categories over the past six months, while skin care and fragrance purchases trailed behind at 4% each. ESW notes that these increases may have been driven by a shift in crisis-era buying behaviors in consumers around the world.

When asked about their reasons for spending more online, some of the most popular answers respondents gave included:

  • Treating themselves to "pick-me-ups" as a reward for getting through quarantines or to alleviate the emotional stress of the pandemic (56%)
  • Buying "gifts" or "treats" for friends and family during the pandemic to make up for not seeing them in person (28%)

Similarly, American Express discovered that 87% of travelers began planning for their next trip during the pandemic because it gave them something to look forward to. Meanwhile, another survey from Tripadvisor found that millennials — high-earning ones in particular — are more likely to splurge on luxury vacations, perhaps with these same sentiments in mind.

Methodology: ESW conducted an online survey of 14,697 consumers from 14 countries (Australia, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Japan, Mexico, Russia, South Africa, South Korea, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom and the U.S.) in July 2021.