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Is Online Fatigue Setting In for Some Consumers?

New global study reveals shoppers’ quest for balance in the digital channel
Lynn Petrak, Progressive Grocer
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In a new report, Stockhom-based firm Cint reports that younger consumers are starting to show some digital fatigue after spending so much time online.

Lots of things have gone online since the pandemic began two years ago, but consumers aren’t in that space all the time, nor do they all want to be, according to a new study. In a recently published whitepaper, Stockholm-based global software company Cint reports that consumers in the United States, the United Kingdom and India are now spending about 53 hours online per week, which is simultaneously driving changes in consumer expectations from brands and retailers, and leading to differing levels of digital fatigue.

Among other findings, Cint’s research confirms that the shift to e-commerce that accelerated during the COVID-19 era has affected shoppers’ habits and preferences. While their choices vary, the research shows that Gen Z and Millennial consumers seek features that allow for convenient, interactive shopping experiences, both in-store and online. Older shoppers, meantime, expressed interest in shorter lines while inside physical stores.

As for what online buyers are purchasing and where, the Cint whitepaper reveals that supermarkets, both online and in-store, are the most popular across all age demographics for groceries and household cleaning supplies. Younger Gen Z shoppers tend to purchase such items at c-stores more frequently than their older counterparts.

Cint’s researchers shared some caveats about demographics that have gone online to the tune of more than 50 hours per week. For example, although younger consumers embrace the digital channel, there are signs of some weariness of living virtually: Cint found that digitally native members of the Gen Z age group are more affected by the constant digital activity than older generations are, as evidenced by the fact that a third of them don’t want to participate as much in chats and meetings by video.

In addition, shoppers may have and use more digital options, but they also enjoy being inside brick-and-mortar locations. Baby Boomers were the least likely to make online purchases across all categories, while 87% of Gen Z consumers said that they’ve opted to shop in person in grocery stores.

These and other concurrent sentiments point to the need to carefully balance digital and online shopping experiences, the Cint researchers concluded.

“Consumer behavior is changing and is full of nuances, which requires technology that will allow brands to keep up,” said Shawn Cabral, global marketing director of Cint. “If there’s one thing this study showed us, it is that it’s essential that brands tap into large, diverse respondent groups to truly understand the unique characteristics of their target audiences.”  

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