Does Gen Z Prefer Apps Over Websites When Online Shopping?

Does Gen Z Prefer Apps Over Websites When Online Shopping?

The Gen Z data analysts at VALUES, Inc. analyzed behavioral data regarding the online shopping consumption among Generation Z. It is said that Gen Z prefers “e-commerce apps” over “e-commerce websites,” but what is true? We will dig deeper, incorporating the honest voices of the Gen Zers.

Hello, this is the "Gen-Z Research Team" at VALUES, Inc.!
We analyze the consumer behavior data and the "reality of Generation Z consumption" from the perspective of VALUES' current Gen Z employees.

This article is brought to you by research team member: Tammy (born in 1998, love trends).

What is the definition of "Generation Z” to begin with?

"Generation Z" refers to the generation born between the late 1990s and 2010. Since the Internet has been around for as long as they can remember, they are also referred to as the generation of "digital natives," and have been drawing attention as the generation that will be supporting the economy in the upcoming years.

In contrast, Generation Z is often compared to the older "millennial generation," the generation that was born between 1981 and the mid-1990s and grew up with the development of the Internet.

*For the purposes of this article, we define and analyze consumer panel participants ages 16-26 as of October 2022 as "Generation Z" and those ages 27-41 as of October 2022 as "millennials."

In this research, we focus on the "online shopping" behaviors among Generation Z.

Generation Z is said to prefer e-commerce apps over e-commerce websites, but a deeper look at the reality reveals that they use both websites and apps for different purposes and situations, and that they use apps in ways that are unique to Generation Z.

Does Gen Z prefer "e-commerce apps" over "e-commerce websites"?

Most use the app when shopping for Uniqlo (fashion manufacturer and retailer), and most use the website for Yodobashi (electronics retailer)

First, we analyzed the number of Gen Z users on the website compared to the apps for each e-commerce brand. The analysis covered four major e-commerce brands that handle different products and offer online shopping on both their website and app.

Ratio of media used among Generation Z by e-commerce brand
Period: October 2022 (Target device: Smartphone)

Data regarding Generation Z users of each e-commerce brand were extracted, and the ratio of media used (website or app) was calculated.
*Users being those who browsed the website or activated the app at least once in a month.

The ratio of website to app users among Gen Z differed significantly by e-commerce brand.
For Uniqlo, more than 70% of users only used the app, suggesting that more Gen Z users use the app than the website. On the other hand, more than 70% of Gen Z Yodobashi Camera consumers use only the website, indicating that the website is preferred over the app.

Amazon users are quite unique with 36% of its users using both the website and app in combination. Let's take a closer look.

We compared the number of days Amazon users visited the website and app over the course of one month and categorized those who spent more days on the website versus the app as the main media used.

Ratio of media used (combination usage) among Generation Z Amazon users
Period: October 2022 (Target device: Smartphone)

We saw a large number of Generation Z users who used both Amazon's website and app in combination, but most of them seem to be mainly using the app.

What are the usage scenarios of e-commerce websites/apps for Generation Z? [The real voices of Generation Z]

Tammy: Generation Z does not always prefer e-commerce apps, but seems to use both e-commerce websites and e-commerce apps depending on the product and purpose. In what situations do they use each?

Marron: I use e-commerce websites when I want to do comparison shopping. I open multiple tabs on my browser to simultaneously view product pages and comparison websites, like "mybest," to compare products.

Ban-chan: That’s true. The action of surfing multiple websites for careful consideration is something that cannot be done with an app since it only allows you to view one screen at a time.

Tammy: That’s right. Then, in what kind of situations would you use the app? An e-commerce app with a membership card function could be used in many cases to make purchases in stores.

Marron: Yes, I have many e-commerce apps that I download and use as a membership card. However, I sometimes discover products I am interested in through push notifications that alert me of special sales or new products that prompt me to open the app.

Sera: I think the most common purpose for opening the app is when you already know the product you want to buy, like Marron mentioned, or when you know there is something similar to the product you are looking for.

Ban-chan: Especially at Uniqlo, which has had a lot of app use, I think that many of the customers learn about the products in advance through other media, such as Instagram and YouTube, and then open their e-commerce app.。

Tammy: I see. I have a hypothesis about the difference in the usage scenarios: "use of e-commerce websites to compare and select products in a relatively serious manner, and use e-commerce apps to confirm and purchase products that you are already eyeing."

Are Gen Z users more likely to use e-commerce apps than millennials?

Comparison of app usage rates between Gen Z and millennials (fashion e-commerce)

Like in the previous section, we then compiled the ratio of media used by each e-commerce brand for both Generation Z and millennials.

In this section, we will focus on the fashion category, where we have just seen a particularly large number of Generation Z users that only use the app. In addition to Uniqlo, three popular fashion e-commerce websites were included in the analysis.

Ratio of media used by Generation Z and millennials by fashion e-commerce brand
Period: October 2022 (Target device: Smartphone)

For Uniqlo and GU, over 70% to 80% of both Generation Z and millennials only use the app, and no generational differences were observed for these two brands.
On the other hand, for ZOZOTOWN and SHEIN, more than 20% more Gen Z users only use the app compared to millennials.

What are the usage scenarios of e-commerce websites/apps for Generation Z? [The real voices of Generation Z]

<Tammy: Unlike Uniqlo and GU, ZOZOTOWN and SHEIN users may have a unique way of using e-commerce apps specific to Generation Z. What are the differences between these e-commerce brands?

Ban-chan: ZOZOTOWN and SHEIN sell products without being tied to a specific brand. This is a big difference from Uniqlo and GU, where brands sold are limited within the app.

Tammy: It is true that I often use the Uniqlo and GU apps when I have an idea of what I want to buy, as discussed earlier, but I also open the ZOZOTOWN app when I don't have a specific idea of what I want to buy. This is because the ZOZOTOWN app allows me to look at the rankings across brands and keep track of trends.

Ban-chan: I sometimes look at ZOZOTOWN as a reference for outfit ideas, not for purchasing. It is like browsing a social media page for fashion or style.

Sera: I feel similarly. I can easily check out other brands that I don't usually buy, and I see it as a "hand-held online shopping center with only clothes."

Marron: Perhaps this is unique to Generation Z. They see e-commerce apps as more than just a place to buy things.

Tammy: I see. I have a hypothesis that all generations use e-commerce apps for "buying," while the use of e-commerce apps for "browsing and learning" is unique to Generation Z.


This time, we analyzed and discussed online shopping among Generation Z, with a particular focus on e-commerce websites and apps. The following is a summary of the results and the hypotheses that emerged.

<Results #1>
The ratio of Gen Z e-commerce website and app usage differs by e-commerce brand. At Uniqlo, the majority of users only use the app, while for Yodobashi Camera, the majority of users only use the website.

<Hypothesis #1>
Generation Z uses both the e-commerce website and app depending on the occasion.

Usage scenarios for e-commerce websites When making product comparisons and selections in a relatively serious manner
Usage scenarios for e-commerce apps When confirming or purchasing a product that you were somewhat eyeing

<Result #2>
There is no significant difference between the percentage of users for the e-commerce and app among Gen Z and millennials. For the usage of the ZOZOTOWN and SHEIN e-commerce websites and apps, there are characteristically more Gen Z users that only use apps compared to millennials.

<Hypothesis #2>
There are two types of e-commerce application usage: those common to all generations and those unique to Generation Z.

How e-commerce apps are used across "all generations" Use of e-commerce apps with the intent to "buy"
How e-commerce apps are used in a way "unique to Gen Z" Use of e-commerce apps as a way to "browse and learn"

The different usage between e-commerce websites and e-commerce apps may be due to the diverse needs of Generation Z. It may be necessary to correctly understand these needs and pursue methods of transmitting information that are appropriate for each medium.

In this case study, we have developed an interesting hypothesis by combining actual online behavioral data with the real voices of Generation Z employees at VALUES, Inc. Please keep an eye out for future installments of this series.





Gen-Z Chosa-Tai (Gen-Z Research Team)

Gen-Z data analysts, each with their unique personalities, analyzes the behavioral data of Gen-Z consumers.
Formed in October 2022 by VALUES, Inc.
They analyze and communicate the "reality of Gen Z" using data from awareness surveys and online behavioral data.

Marron (Born in '98, likes entertainment content), Sera (Born in '98, likes "kawaii" culture), Ban-chan (Born in’99, likes 2D characters)


Z世代 EC










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