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Shopper insight: Shopping through the generations

By 20 January 2022January 25th, 2022Blog

Each of the four generational demographics that we work with today – Baby Boomers, Gen X, Millennials and Gen Z – has very specific political and cultural traits that inevitably affect the way that each cohort shops. These differences mean that shoppers within these generations have a different view on marketing tactics and will also be unique from one another when it comes to purchasing preferences. For any business keen to have cross-generational appeal today it will be crucial to gain shopper insight into all these demographics and the way that we shop through the generations.

Baby Boomers

Convenience is key for appealing to Baby Boomer shoppers. In terms of experience, this is a generation that doesn’t find shopping relaxing and isn’t likely to browse, which perhaps isn’t surprising as they tend to have more disposable income than other cohorts and consequently don’t need to find bargains. Online shopping is popular with Baby Boomers – 66% regularly purchase via web devices – and online research is also becoming standard, as 85% will do research about products online. Despite this, Baby Boomers are the generation most likely to express a preference for in-store shopping (84% prefer in-store). Customer service is key to securing Baby Boomer loyalty – these shoppers will go elsewhere after a bad experience.

Gen X

This often-forgotten generation actually has a lot of spending power – but tends to purchase conservatively. Gen X-ers will do a lot of research before buying something to ensure it’s the right choice and tend to be much more skeptical of marketing tactics so they are less easy to influence. Key to attracting Gen X is honesty – transparency over product usage and clienteling techniques that cater to their own habits. Gen X also values customer service and once loyal can respond well to marketing such as personalised email offers based on previous services.


68% of Millennials look for omnichannel accessibility during their shopping journey so an integrated experience is key to attracting this generation. Younger Millennials tend to opt for in-store shopping while the older end of the generation is more likely to use mobile devices. Unlike previous generations, Millennials see shopping as a social event and are highly likely to browse. 60% consider purchasing advice from friends and most shop with others at least half the time. Social media has a big influence on Millennials and word-of-mouth (online or in-person) is a key influence in decision making for 82%.

Gen Z

These digital natives do a lot of digital research before purchasing and are very comfortable buying online. Nevertheless, in-store shopping is popular and 84% intentionally make their shopping trips a social activity. This is also the generation most likely to voice comments about products and services online  – and to proactively look for interactions with brand representatives in a digital space. This means consumer-generated content is very relevant to Gen Z, both being able to give it and also review it. Although in-store experience is a priority for Gen Z, it’s vital to this generation that a shopping experience also integrates their tech.

The way we shop changes with every generation – these are just some of the key differences to note. But by gaining a deeper understanding of each generation, especially Gen Z, a brand can create informed long-term strategies that are more likely to be successful with their customer base.