8 February 2017

Younger consumers prefer shopping online for clothing

YouGov has discovered that consumers across the Asia Pacific region (APAC) are still shopping for clothing physically in-store, with more than three-quarters of those polled* (79%) saying they have shopped in-store in the past year.

Shopping in-store is particularly prevalent for shoppers in Hong Kong, Australia, and Malaysia, where 88%, 85% and 84% have done so, respectively. Shopping online via a website is the second-most popular method of purchasing apparel; nearly half of respondents in APAC (45%) have used a website to shop for clothing and accessories over the past year. The popularity of e-commerce has surged in mainland China, where three-quarters (75%) of people have bought apparel via a website over the past year. 

Source: YouGov. Respondents in APAC share how they buy clothing.
Respondents in APAC share how they buy clothing.

The most popular reason for online shopping is to save time, say 69% of those who have shopped using websites over the past year and 66% of those who have used apps. Over half of those who shop online also value the price savings, with 58% of those who have shopped through websites and 54% of those who have shopped via apps citing price as an advantage of online shopping.

In contrast, apps are yet to break into the mainstream and have only been used to buy apparel by 15% of those polled in the past year. App usage peaks in Indonesia, China and Singapore where nearly one in five people (19%, 18% and 18% respectively) have purchased apparel through an app in the past year.

Indicators suggest however that shopping trends are set to change. Young people are more than twice as likely to have shopped using a website in the past year and more than six times as likely to have shopped via an app than older generations. Half of those aged 16 to 24 (51%) have shopped using a website over the past year and nearly a fifth (19%) have used an app. In contrast, just a quarter of over 55s (24%) shopped using a website and only 3% have used an app.

Conversely, shopping in-store is most popular with older generations; 90% of over-55s have shopped in-store, compared to 75% of 16 to 24 year olds. This suggests that, as one might expect, younger generations may be more open to shopping with new technologies than older generations. Over three-quarters of those who have shopped in-store (78%) say it is because they like to try out apparel before they buy it; 73% want to check the quality before they buy, and 56% simply enjoy shopping around.

Local markets and street vendors are bucking the trend. They attract 28% of consumers in APAC and are the most popular in Vietnam, the Philippines and Malaysia, where 41%, 38% and 36% of respondents respectively have bought apparel from local markets and street vendors in the past year.
They are more popular with young people than older generations; 35% of 16-24s purchase from markets compared with 23% of over-55s. One possibility, Yougov says, is that young people are strapped for cash and looking for a cheaper alternative to high street and luxury brands.

E- and m-commerce still have a long way to go before they can rival more traditional shopping experiences for convenience as well as for enjoyment. Opinions are divided as to whether new technologies are indeed up to the challenge. While 39% of respondents believe that retailers will close physical stores as online shopping becomes more popular, 36% don’t think they will.

*The company polled 9,037 people across Asia Pacific in December 2016 to investigate apparel shopping habits among the online population. Data was collected from research among YouGov’s panelists and was weighted to be representative of the online population. Sample size: Asia Pacific (n = 9,037; Australia: 1,009; China: 1,003; Hong Kong: 1003; Indonesia: 996; Malaysia: 1,003; Philippines: 1,008; Singapore: 1,004; Thailand: 1,004; Vietnam: 1,007).