Gen Z and e-commerce in Southeast Asia: a deep dive into shopping behaviors

Nearly 70% of Gen Z shoppers in Southeast Asia prioritize e-commerce platforms for research and purchases, influenced by product variety, quality, and payment convenience.

Gen Z and e-commerce in Southeast Asia: a deep dive into shopping behaviors

The shopping preferences of Generation Z have become a focal point for e-commerce platforms in Southeast Asia. This is most notable where a staggering 70% consider these platforms essential for researching and finalizing their purchases. Despite the allure of social commerce and other alternative channels, a significant 73% of Gen Z shoppers finalize their transactions on e-commerce sites, with 56% returning from social platforms to e-commerce for the purchase completion.

This trend stems from a study by Shopee, which surveyed over 2,400 Southeast Asian shoppers, revealing preferences rooted in a wide product selection (79%), high product quality (77%), and convenient payment methods (59%).

Shopee's deep dive into shopping habits uncovers a meticulous research process among Gen Z consumers, with one in three dedicating at least five days to explore reviews, product demos, features, specifications, and pricing. Furthermore, the study indicates a strong desire for engaging and entertaining shopping experiences, with 80% of respondents favoring such platforms.

However, the surge in e-commerce's popularity isn't without its challenges. The first half of 2023 saw a 54% increase in e-commerce complaints, as reported by the Consumers Association of Singapore (CASE), despite a general 8% drop in consumer complaints. This rise, reflected in 1,703 online purchase complaints, up from 1,107 in the previous year, is a testament to the growing pains of an expanding online shopping ecosystem.

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Gen Z online shopping behaviours

Generation Z, the digital natives born into the era of smartphones and social media, exhibit unique shopping behaviors that set them apart from previous generations. Firstly, Gen Z places a high value on social media as a source of inspiration and discovery for shopping. Studies show that 60% of Gen Z’s in the US use platforms like Instagram, TikTok, and Pinterest not only as social networking sites but as vital spaces for brand discovery and product exploration.

Studies show that 65% of Gen Z has made purchases based on influencer recommendations. This generation relies heavily on influencers and content creators for recommendations, making social media endorsements a powerful tool in influencing their purchasing decisions.

The visual and interactive nature of these platforms aligns perfectly with Gen Z's preference for engaging and immersive content, driving them towards products that catch their eye in their social feeds.

Secondly, Gen Z shoppers show a strong preference for ethical and sustainable brands. With studies showing 73% of Gen Z’s willing to pay 10% more for sustainable products. They are more likely than previous generations to research a company's social and environmental impact before making a purchase.

This conscientious approach to shopping reflects their desire to support businesses that align with their values, including those that advocate for sustainability, ethical labor practices, and social justice. As a result, brands that transparently communicate their commitment to these issues are more likely to win the loyalty of Gen Z consumers.

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Thirdly, personalized shopping experiences are highly valued among Gen Z consumers. They expect online shopping platforms to offer personalized recommendations based on their browsing and purchasing history. This demand for personalization extends to expecting a seamless omnichannel experience, where their preferences are recognized across all platforms and devices used by the brand.

Fourthly, Gen Z's shopping behavior is characterized by their demand for convenience and efficiency. This includes a preference for mobile shopping, fast shipping, easy returns, and flexible payment options, such as buy now, pay later services. They are accustomed to instant access and gratification and expect a frictionless online shopping experience that saves them time and effort.

Lastly, despite their inclination for online shopping, Gen Z values the integration of online and offline shopping experiences. They appreciate the ability to check product availability online before visiting a physical store, or the convenience of in-store returns for online purchases.

As e-commerce continues to evolve, understanding and adapting to the unique preferences of Generation Z is crucial for brands looking to thrive in the competitive digital marketplace.

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