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Gen X and boomers love Temu. I asked them why.

miniature pots and pans from Temu
Tiny pots and pans from Temu, all around $1-2 eachKatie Notopoulos / Business Insider

This holiday season, I bought a bunch of gift items on Temu, the Chinese ecommerce app that has exploded in the last year.

  • a set of minature pots, pans, and cooking utensils

  • stickers

  • a fanny pack that looks like a gel silica pack

  • pencil sharpeners that look like noses where you stick the pencil up the nostril

  • an unlicensed Elsa princess costume

  • a baseball hat that says, "women want me, fish fear me"

  • a pizza cutter wheel that looks like an axe

All these items were under $10, most of them around $2 — and they were absolute hits as gifts. I assumed that many people shopped on Temu the way I did: looking for weird, surprising, cheap delights that I never even knew existed.

I was surprised when I read a research study recently that said that Gen X and boomer Temu shoppers tended to spend slightly more per order and placed orders more often than younger shoppers. My assumption was that Temu was targeted more at millennial and Gen Z shoppers.

So I asked readers who were boomers or Gen Xers to write in and tell me: Why do they love Temu so much?

Over 125 people sent me emails professing their love (ok, well, sometimes reluctant appreciation). Over and over, people gave the same reason: the prices.

Another theme emerged, as well: that people were using Temu for purchases they would previously buy from Amazon. This surprised me. I would have guessed different behaviors for Amazon (searching for specific items you need) vs. Temu (browsing for delights).

On the other hand, some said they liked it because of that browsing whimsy — here's a gimzo you never knew existed! — element. In semi-recent history, these were the things you'd find wandering through Bed, Bath & Beyond (now out of business) or late-night TV infomercials.

The research study suggested that some of Temu's appeal to older shoppers was its gamified spinny wheels, which might trick less digitally savvy people. The Gen X and boomers denied this — most of them said they ignored the annoying roulette wheels.

Here's what a few Gen Xers and boomers told me, starting with a shopper who said Temu triggers nostalgia:

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 makes life a little easier. A lot of it comes in handy. Most of the times, they have something that you never knew that you needed, like bag sealers and small motion activated lights. —Tyrone

A boomer with a Temu "addiction:"

For the first time in my life I have an addiction. I cannot for the life of me explain why I have a need to order from Temu. Yes, I'm a boomer. Yes, I have a big house that I am never moving out of. 35 yrs ago we filled it with antiques. Then came babies and it was filled with toys etc. They're gone & then came the dog with all the dog toys, beds, bowls, crates etc. Dog is gone after 15 years and now I see things I think I need on Temu. It started with seeing little toys to fill the grandkid's Christmas stockings. Now it's just out of control. —Linda

A kindergarten teacher who doesn't mind the quality:

I am a 58 year old woman from the Toronto area who loves Temu. Yes I know the products are mostly made of inferior materials and are from China, but I find the costumes jewelry, home decor and gifts for my kindergarten students and teenage kids are priceless (ha ha pun intended!)
I have purchased probably about $300 of stuff over the past year and I have only been disappointed with one product: a cute little cat ring that I bought for my son. It wasn't even close to being as cute as advertised, but for $3.50, what do you want? —Lanie
a variety of items bought on temu
A variety of items bought by a Gen Xer on TemuKristy Meeks

A crafter who gets jewelry-making supplies:

I shop on Temu mostly for jewelry, crafting and jewelry supplies. I can buy them on Temu for less than half of what it would cost me to buy the exact same thing on Amazon or Etsy. My latest obsession is the Pandora style bracelet charms. I have a bracelet full of charms, the most expensive one was $13. It would have cost a couple hundred dollars if I would have bought them on Amazon or directly from the manufacturer. —Lydia

A DIY home improvement shopper:

The majority of my purchases have been camping or home improvement items. No tchotchkes! A random sampling of what I've purchased are: solar/handcrank emergency radio, pop-up privacy shelter, solar water heater, emergency foil blankets, fold up cookstove, privacy window film, brass winterizing valve set, garden netting, microwave splatter shield, and houseplant watering system. —Randy

An engraving hobbyist who gets his tools from Temu:

We moved into a new flat and discovered Temu while shopping for stuff we needed to adapt the new place: light fixtures, ceiling fans, wall holders for soap/shampoo/sponges, light fixture for multi-ceiling light to better fit dining/living room space, other utilitarian stuff for kitchen … Here's Temu stuff for home craft work, including tools & protective mat for engraving/lithography, special tape for collages, stamp press tool, mini paint rollers... (plus an unrelated 4-way light cable splitter). Cost maybe $15 in all? — Bill
craft supplies
Craft supples, about $15 total.Bill Eldridge

The boomer who doesn't mind off-brand items:

As Boomers we don't place so much emphasis on wearing name brand clothing and accessories.  Our focus is on saving money to enjoy other activities and pay our bills. Also, the convenience of shopping online. — Helen

Read the original article on Business Insider