Online Shopping and Retail Chains Draw Businesswomen Away from Department Stores and Catalogs

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Generation Y businesswomen don't frequent department stores and are not afraid to use their credit cards to shop online for clothing, accessories and cosmetics, reveals a new survey released by

The December 2006 Online Shopping Survey reveals attitudes and evolving trends about online shopping and other purchasing influencers for clothing, accessories and cosmetics across three generations of businesswomen - Baby Boomers, Generation X and Generation Y. The survey of more than 500 working women was conducted in November.

Key Findings - Clothing/Accessory purchases

Generation Y businesswomen are half as likely to shop in a traditional department store as their Boomer colleagues for clothing and accessories; but twice as likely to spend their money at a retail chain or online. They are not nearly as concerned with using their credit cards online as their Boomer colleagues. The biggest detractors that keep businesswomen (all generations) from shopping online for clothing/accessories are: (1) the need to try things on; (2) worries about returns; and (3) not wanting to pay shipping costs.

Key Findings - Cosmetic purchases

Surprisingly, all generations are brand-loyal to their cosmetics. However, Generation Y buys most of their cosmetics at pharmacies and are more likely to frequent a retail chain like Sephora or shop online than their Boomer and Generation X colleagues. While all generations cited time efficiency as their number one reason for shopping online, the #2 reason Generation Y shops online for cosmetics is because they can find more discounts. The biggest detractors that keep women (all generations) from purchasing cosmetics online are: (1) they need to try or see things in person; (2) they like samples and testers; and (3) it's just not as fun as going in person!

Key Findings - Misc. splurges and influences

For all generations, computers and computer accessories were the fourth largest splurge category after clothing, travel and shoes. And all things being equal, purchasing from a "woman-owned business" was the most compelling outside influencer for Boomers and Generation X businesswomen. However, Generation Y respondents put environmentally-conscious at the top of their list as an outside influencer. Not surprisingly, political donations by a company was the least compelling factor for making purchasing decisions for all age groups.


"Based on the key findings, traditional retailers can no longer ignore online shopping." It appears that fear of giving credit cards online will continue to dissipate, and companies can succeed in attracting Generation Y by implementing some or all of the following: worry-free, easy returns; eliminate shipping costs; periodic discounts and sales; large inventories; samples and testers; catalog-quality visuals on-line; create a fun shopping experience; build brand loyalty from a young age; launch word-of-mouth marketing campaigns; and become environmentally and socially conscious

The Survey can be downloaded at:

Survey Methodology

In November 2006, we surveyed the members of, who are professional businesswomen ranging in age from 22 to 62+. Of the 500+ women we had respond: 192 were Baby Boomers (b. 1946-1964); 210 were Generation X (b. 1965-1976); and 101 were Generation Y (b. 1977-1993). 79% work full-time (26% self-employed; 53% at a company); 18% work part-time either self-employed or at a company; 8% are in transition; and 1% job shares. 76% have incomes greater than $50,000 (nearly half of these women have incomes over $75,000). 66% of respondents don't have kids (single or married); and 83% were white; 7% Black; 4% Asian; 3% Hispanic; and 4% other.

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