Baby Boomer vs. Millennial Shoppers: Why Retailers Must Appeal To Both


As the generation gap between shoppers widen, so do their shopping habits. It’s important for retailers to understand their preferences in order to create an all-in-one shopping experience that appeals to different age groups. Baby boomers and millennials comprise the largest shopping demographics and remain the focus for most retailers today.

Gen X, (born between 1965 and 1981 ) comprises a smaller population than the boomers and millennials and often demonstrate similar shopping behaviors to both their older and younger generations. Their buying potential is not to be overlooked and a successful retailer should aim to capture the attention of all shoppers.

Baby Boomers (born between 1943 and 1964)

Most retailers attribute up to 50% of their sales to baby boomers. While their population is being gradually outpaced by the growing number of millennials, baby boomers still have stronger purchasing power and account for nearly five times more retail spending. While the love for coupons and promotions span both generations, baby boomers are less motivated by price. They place higher value in the overall shopping experience including great in-store customer service. Baby boomers are very brand-loyal and are often willing to pay a higher price for a brand they trust and have personally deemed “high-quality”. They’re also more likely to make a purchase from brands that offer loyalty rewards. Contrary to popular belief, baby boomers are relatively tech-savvy and have no problem browsing, researching and making purchases online. However, when it comes to mobile, baby boomers are less likely than millennials to use a smartphone or tablet when making a purchase.

Millennials (born between 1981 and 2000)

Digitally connected and highly informed millennials use technology to their full advantage. They’re more price-conscious than older generations and will often compare multiple options (often on a mobile device while in-store) before making a purchase decision. They’re less motivated by traditional advertising and strongly influenced by product reviews, word-of-mouth, blogs and social media. Although they are highly discerning shoppers, millennials will happily endorse a brand that provides them with a great experience or sells a product that they love. Millennials are more likely to advocate for their favorite brand on Facebook, Pinterest, or their personal blog.

Millennials have recently surpassed baby boomers in numbers and although their level of disposable income is currently lower, retailers must not ignore the value in nurturing this generation with exceptional brand awareness. They will become retailers’ core clientele in the next few decades, and creating a sense of brand loyalty in this group will be valuable as they develop more purchasing power. Experts also caution retailers to not abandon the boomers either as their their ability to be a significant revenue driver is expected to remain strong for the next 20 years. Retailers that are able to create a unified brand experience that attracts and retains both generations will continue to see success.

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