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Millennials and Gen Z prefer DTC shopping with brands to marketplace platforms

Tom Bottomley
31 August 2022

The majority of Millennial (63%) and Gen Z (60%) shoppers prefer buying directly from international ecommerce brands over marketplace platforms, according to the latest research by ESW, the leading direct-to-consumer (DTC) ecommerce solution provider.

ESW’s ‘Global Voices: Consumers Pulse 2022’ survey of more than 14,000 consumers across 14 countries found that almost three quarters (73%) of Millennials, and 69% of Gen Z shoppers, believe that shopping via DTC channels gives them a “more personalised experience”, with offers and promotions targeted specifically toward their preferences. That compares to 63% of Gen X and 50% of Baby Boomers.

Natashia Redfern, Director of Sales at ESW, said: “Younger consumers’ shopping preferences indicate that retailers and brands must adopt a robust DTC ecommerce and content strategy to remain both relevant and competitive in the future.

“Our data reveals that 78% of Millennials and 74% of Gen Zers enjoy a greater experience when shopping on a brands’ own website, while 69% of Gen X and 60% of Baby Boomers feel the same.”

Instagram, YouTube and TikTok top social media platforms used by Gen Z for product discovery, showing a “direct correlation” between social media channel usage and rate of online purchasing.

Among younger Gen Z consumers, the top three social media platforms for product discovery, in order, are Instagram (52%), YouTube (51%), and TikTok (43%). Facebook is less important to the Gen Z consumer, with only 34% using the platform for product discovery.

Millennials’ top three social media channels are YouTube (46%), Facebook (45%), and Instagram (44%). TikTok is less important to Millennials, with just 32% using it for product discovery.

The survey also found the trend towards the youngest consumers shopping for products outside of their home market continues. To date in 2022, Gen Z shoppers (51%) are inching ahead of Millennials (50%) as the demographic with the highest percentage of cross-border shoppers across all categories.
Demographically, the countries with the highest numbers of cross-border shoppers - UAE (66%), China (60%) and South Korea (57%) - also had the highest number of younger shoppers, pointing to the purchasing potential of Gen Z shoppers.

However, Millennials have retained their rank as the highest volume cross-border consumers, with 17% making 11 or more international purchases a year followed closely by Gen Z (15%) and some distance ahead of Gen X (7%) and Baby Boomers (5%).

Redfern added: “For the third year in a row our data has shown the younger the consumer, the more likely it is that they shop cross-border, making international ecommerce strategy an absolute necessity for retailers and brands targeting these cohorts.”

The survey further reveals that Gen Z and Millennial shoppers have a greater degree of trust for online retailers located outside of their home country, about 30% higher than Gen X and two times that of Baby Boomers. Some 54% of Gen Zers and 56% of Millennials say that it’s irrelevant to them whether an online retailer is located overseas or not.

While younger consumers shop across borders twice as often as Gen X and three times as often as Boomers, more than 25% of all consumers who shop internationally online do so because the product was unavailable through local retailers.

While social media remains the dominant channel for product discovery, in-store ranks third for discovery, highlighting the ongoing importance of an omnichannel strategy and multichannel capabilities.


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