When I first heard about Temu, my knee-jerk reaction was to think it would be a Shein for random items, from kitchenware to toys. I also thought the target audience would be similar, Gen Z, especially after I saw some young influencers showing off their “Temu hauls” on TikTok. 

Recent reports proved me wrong: Boomers placed on average 5.6 orders last year on Temu, while Gen Z only ordered 2.6 times.

There have been multiple theories going around on why Temu is so popular with the older generation. Some people mention the gamification and the discounts offered by some roulette wheels that are particularly appealing. Others mentioned the need to buy cheap gifts for grandkids, the ease of navigation, or the fact that Boomers tend to have more storage space in their homes. Some experts also say that older customers are less attached to name brands than their kids, and are okay with cheaper Temu’s items as long as the quality is there.

An interesting Business Insider article features several answers from Temu’s customers, explaining why they use it. According to a respondent, “My father used to have a kitchen drawer full of knickknacks or some junk he’d find from a TV commercial (As Seen On TV commercials). Temu brings back that nostalgia for me, plus I find items that genuinely make life a little easier.”

Was it part of Temu’s strategy to be so popular with Boomers? I don’t know. But the Chinese company will need to use all the data they have and understand the “Why?” if they want to keep growing and become profitable.

Factors like gamification may be helpful in retaining older customers (although there is no evidence that this is the case), but many younger consumers report this impacts their shopping experience negatively. Temu may need to make some tough decisions in the future. But the main problem is pricing: If pricing is the main driver of consumer engagement, over variety, quality, speed of delivery, or any other factor, it might become difficult for Temu to become profitable and keep expanding in Europe and in the US. 

Finally, let’s keep in mind that there are a lot more than the average number of orders per year. We don’t know about the trends over time, the average order value, or the cost per conversion. Yet, the correlation between age and the orders placed seems clear and massive. I think this can be a very interesting case study for marketers, and a great learning experience.