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Is Gen Z’s Affinity for Amazon on the Decline?

A new survey of 4,000 U.S. consumers indicates that Amazon may not be quite so popular with teens after all.

In its “Turning Browsers Into Buyers” report, product information company InRiver discovered that Amazon seems to be “just another option” for teens and tweens—flying in the face of other recent research showing Gen Z’s unwielding affinity for the “everything store.”

That’s not to say that the post-millennial generation is turning its collective back on Amazon. Overall, half the population still thinks of Amazon first when it’s time to shop online, as 53 percent reported logging onto the website as the initial course of action. But looking at which demographics are most likely to turn to Amazon first, InRiver found that Baby Boomers in the 65 and older range search the e-commerce giant as their first option most often—and the numbers fall off with each subsequent age group.

In fact, those straddling the Gen Z/millennial divide ages 16 to 24 reported the lowest tendency to log onto Amazon when looking for products. Even more interesting, these young consumers seem to be bringing numerous sources into the mix when they’re in product research mode. They check out videos on YouTube, for example, and scroll through consumer feedback on dedicated product review sites, and even go directly to a brand’s own website. This all led InRiver to claim, “For future shoppers, Amazon will not be the first or only touchpoint—it will be one of many.”

ColderICE media president John Lawson said in the report, “There are some sharp turns that are showing up that brands must pay attention to—if we are already seeing consumers move away from the Amazon standard in e-commerce, this will be a very important signal for all of online retail.”

It’s still early days for voice commerce but InRiver cautions brands not to take too much of a wait-and-see approach to what could be a sleeping giant. So far, just more than on-fifth (22 percent) of those surveyed by InRiver reported using some sort of voice assistant—whether a smart speaker or their smartphone—to conduct a replenishment purchase, but looking at younger shoppers in the 16 to 24-year-old bracket, that figure rises to 26 percent. Another 18 percent of these consumers purchased a new, non-replenishment product by voice, the reported added. The kicker: 44 percent described their voice commerce experience as “excellent,” indicating their interest in and comfort with this emerging channel for future shopping and purchases.

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No retailer likes to deal with returns, but InRiver’s survey indicates there’s no end in sight. The youngest consumers show the highest return behavior, as 57 percent said they purchase already expecting to have to send some or all of their items back. That’s far more than the 19 percent of seniors who reported the same behavior.

In a statement, InRiver CMO Steve Gershik said that brands hoping to stay afloat amid turbulent times should not ignore the needs of Gen Z consumers and their high expectations.

“Marketers were blindsided by millennials—we must not allow ourselves to be caught off guard again by Generation Z and Generation Alpha, who are already making purchasing decisions,” he said.