Youth and young adults, or YAYAs, have more resources than ever before when it comes to shopping. Gone are the days of basing purchases on word-of-mouth or remaining loyal to the brands their parents bought. Though YAYA consumers still rely heavily on the opinions of their peers, they have access to the opinions of millions with just a few taps on their smartphones. The prevalence of online reviews, discussion boards and social media chatter has changed the way the 18- to 24-year-old market shops. According to a Mintel report, 60 percent of YAYA shoppers say they read consumer feedback about products online before buying, and 37 percent say they compare product’s online prices to those found in-store. The abundance of information allows them a sense of individuality and to venture away from the traditional brands of older generations.

Although the YAYA demographic has enjoyed online shopping for a while, they now rely heavily on online purchasing after leaving their parents’ homes. For possibly the first time, they’re shopping and paying for things on their own, so they might as well do it in the way that comes easiest. YAYA consumers grew up with technology, which is constantly becoming more efficient and pervasive in their lives. There’s no reason why they wouldn’t be lured by the speed and convenience of online shopping. According to our annual State of the YAYA report, 86 percent of YAYA consumers agree they shop online because it’s available, and 89 percent do it because it’s quick or convenient. They are in a new phase of life with a jam-packed schedule, making the balance of work or school and a social life difficult. Online shopping encourages YAYA shopper’s newfound independence and helps them take a step toward that work-life balance.

YAYA consumers also use online shopping to construct an identity for themselves. According the 2016 State of the YAYA market survey, these shoppers are extremely brand loyal, but not to their parents’ brands. With an infinite selection at their fingertips, they are departing from childhood brands and moving toward brands that reflect their adult personalities. The survey found that more than 70 percent of YAYA consumers agree the brands they choose are a reflection of themselves. Additionally, more than 60 percent say they will buy their favorite brand regardless of what is on sale.

YAYA shoppers choices go beyond the look and feel of items, as they discern what brands will say about their interests, concerns and lifestyles. More than half of this demographic agrees that they would not purchase products or services from companies whose social or political views do not align with their own. To attract these consumers, marketers need to consider what kind of social image their brand embodies. Aligning a brand with positive changes like environmental conservation or social acceptance goes a long way with YAYA shoppers.

It is nothing new that purchase habits change as one enters adulthood, and that is clearly the case for the YAYA demographic. But what is new is going through this life stage with an abundance of new technologies, social norms and means of crafting an identity. They are searching for a purpose in their young adult life while experiencing the thrill of making purchase decisions alone. Aligning your brand with the habits of these social, tech savvy YAYA consumers will get you loyal customers in no time. If your brand fits into their identity, they won’t be able to stay away.

Written by: Maddy Jones, Jamie Lazaroff and Jackie Olson