Gender and demographics play a key role in the ways people conduct mobile and online shopping, according to several new studies.

SheSpeaks Inc., an engagement platform that links influencers to brands, revealed that while 72 percent of Millennials make purchases on their mobile phones (compared with 65 percent of Gen-Xers and 38 percent of Baby Boomers), all generations are more likely to make online purchases via desktop or laptop most frequently (74 percent Millennials, 76 percent Gen-Xers and 81 percent Boomers), when compared with frequency of purchases on mobile phone and iPads.

This story first appeared in the August 13, 2014 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

“We found that stat very surprising,” said Aliza Freud, founder and chief executive officer of SheSpeaks. “We asked about their iPads, their iPhones or their mobile phones and, compared to desktop, there’s way more usage across the generations for their laptops and desktops.” Based on the study, she doesn’t know why that’s the case, but in her opinion, she believes women may prefer the larger screen and better visuals.

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SheSpeaks conducted an online survey of more than 3,300 women from June 16 to 18, spanning Generation Y (Millennials), who were born between 1981 and 1995; Generation X, who were born between 1965 and 1980, and Baby Boomers, born between 1946 and 1964.

The survey found that 70 percent of Millennial, 65 percent of Gen X, and 40 percent of Boomer women use their smartphone or tablet one or more times a month as part of their shopping process, while 20 percent of Millennial women said they plan to make more purchases on their mobile phones in the next six months.

The SheSpeaks study found that female Millennials are comfortable purchasing all types of products with their smartphones, including downloadable music (56 percent); downloadable books (48 percent); beauty products (41 percent); toys and games (35 percent), and general household items (34 percent).

For Boomers, the survey revealed that 30 percent use smartphones to download music (versus 52 percent of Gen X); 26 percent use smartphones to download books (versus 42 percent of Gen X); 18 percent use smartphones for beauty products (versus 34 percent of Gen X); 12 percent use smartphones for toys and games (versus 26 percent of Gen X), and 19 percent use smartphones for household items (versus 30 percent of Gen X).

Gen X and Millennial women are more likely than Boomers to have been influenced to make a purchase by a coupon they saw on a social network, blog review or photo on Pinterest. Of women of all ages, 66 percent cited a review on a retailer’s Web site, such as or, as a primary influence in purchasing a product, according to the SheSpeaks survey.

Although social media is the number-one way for all women to stay connected, the study showed Millennials are more likely to text (32 percent versus 21 percent of Boomers), whereas Boomers are more likely to cite e-mail (16 percent versus 5 percent of Millennials) and talking on the phone (18 percent for Boomers versus 4 percent for Millennials) as their preferred way to stay in touch.

The study found that women of all ages visit Facebook at least once a week, but Millennials are more active on Pinterest (68 percent), Twitter (64 percent), YouTube (60 percent) and Instagram (57 percent). Use of Pinterest is 46 percent of Boomers (versus 61 percent of Gen X); Twitter is 36 percent of Boomers (versus 54 percent of Gen X); YouTube is 36 percent of Boomers (versus 50 percent of Gen X), and Instagram is 14 percent of Boomers (versus 38 percent of Gen X.)

“Conversations about the different consumer generations tend to focus on one group at a time, and are often based on generalizations,” said Freud. “We wanted to provide a snapshot that really sheds light on women’s unique traits, so marketers can better understand and connect to them.” SheSpeaks, based in New York, partners with Fortune 500 firms such as Procter & Gamble, Citibank and L’Oréal to tailor social media activation programs.

While the conventional wisdom is that women drive shopping trends, when it comes to e-commerce, men drive nearly as much spending online in the U.S. as women, according to a new report from BI Intelligence. Twenty-two percent of men bought a product or service on their smartphones in 2013, compared with 18 percent of women, while one-fifth of men did the same on a tablet, compared with 17 percent of women.

The online trend among American men seems to extend to American teenage boys as well — some 85 percent of male teens shop online compared with 76 percent of teenage girls, according to BI Intelligence. Further, a higher proportion of teenage boys responded that they shop at sites such as Amazon and eBay than teenage girls, who prefer to shop on fashion and specialized sites.

Millennials remain the key age demographic for online commerce, spending more money online in a given year than any other age group. According to BI Intelligence, Boomers and seniors have also adopted mobile commerce. One in four mobile shoppers in the U.S. is over age 55.

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