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Here’s How Differences By Generation Influence Buyer Decision-Making

Lydia Vargo

Lydia Vargo

Senior Director of Strategic Accounts at ChicExecs
Following four years of study in science and psychology, Lydia was as surprised as anyone when she landed a great job in the finance industry after graduation. A very successful six-year career in marketing and sales with a leading mutual fund company taught her how to make her way in a fast-paced, competitive and often harsh environment. With a passion for understanding people and how to build on one’s natural strengths and struggles, Lydia spent much of her time doing business presentations for her clients on how to get the most from their team, prospects and self. Lydia came to ChicExecs after moving to California in early 2012. She was drawn to the company’s clear focus on ethics, respect and the belief that every idea has merit and with the right team behind it, the recipe for success.
Lydia Vargo

Today, the retail industry is adjusting to online-first shopping habits​, but it’s also trying to balance new buyer attitudes. Retail has evolved because people have evolved. While Baby Boomers may shop one way, Gen Z is completely different.

Learn how each generation prefers to shop and how you can use this information to transform your business.

Generational shopping habits

Keep in mind that everyone is unique, regardless of their generation. Use these generational shopping habits not as gospel, but as general rules of thumb to build your business.

  1. Baby Boomers

Baby Boomers were born between 1946 to 1964. They make up 29 percent of the American population and have a lot of buying power. This generation tends to have more trust in branding and advertising. They grew up in an age where quality was king, so they learned that what was on the shelf was to be trusted. Baby Boomers tend to be more brand-loyal than other generations, due to the trust they developed in those large brands. They are loyal to big-name brands with longevity like Levi, Prada, Gerber and more.

This generation prioritizes long-lasting relationships with retailers. They know what they like and they enjoy a consistent, quality experience every time. For this reason, many Boomers aren’t budget-sensitive (this is changing as more Boomers retire).

Generally speaking, Baby Boomers prefer to spend a little more money on the finer things in life. For example, a Boomer might order a more expensive steak at dinner or order a nicer bottle of perfume because, hey, they’ve earned it.

Baby Boomers also value in-person communication. They want excellent, personable customer service and prefer to shop in-store to get it.



  1. Gen X

Gen X was born between 1965 and 1980. This generation is smaller than the Boomers, but they make up around 20 percent of the U.S. population.

Approximately 60 percent of the Gen X population attended college and many of them have embraced technology. However, Gen X didn’t grow up with technology in their hands like recent generations, so they aren’t as reliant on tech to make their buying decisions.

As children of Baby Boomers, Gen X are often taking care of their elderly parents. They’re thinking about tuition for their kids, their mortgage, funding retirement and caring for their family.

For that reason, coupons and discounts bring Gen X shoppers to stores in droves. They tend to prefer direct mail and are always on the lookout for a good deal.

  1. Millennials

Millennials make up around a quarter of the U.S. population and include people born between 1980 and 1996.

Early millennials remember life before technology, but most of them grew up with technology in the home. Most were teens or young adults when mobile tech became popular.

Because millennials grew up in the shadow of the Great Recession, they have a healthy suspicion of big companies. That’s why they use the internet to do a lot of research before they make a purchase. Millennials often walk into a store already knowing what they want to buy. They have zero tolerance for inaccuracies or lies, and rely on their social network for recommendations and information.

They prefer to give their business to brands that are authentic, charitable and innovative. Once you’ve earned a millennial’s trust, they’ll stay with you.

  1. Gen Z

Gen Z was born between 1996 through the present day, accounting for around 30 percent of the population. While it’s still in the early days for this generation, they’re the first generation to be born with technology in their hand.

Gen Z wants to make the world a better place. They need to know that their purchases are going to have an impact on the world. That’s why they choose brands like Toms, Ivory Ella and Pura Vida. Gen Z takes the millennial love of technology even further. They do their research before making a purchase, consulting reviews before going in-store.

The upside to this is that, if Gen Z loves your brand, they’re going to gush about you online. This generation has a platform and they aren’t afraid to use it.


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Creating your winning retail strategy

When it comes to boosting retail sales, knowledge is power. Understanding generational buyer preferences is essential to building a better, more successful business.

Follow these five tips to make the most of your retail strategy:

  1. Know your audience

How old is your average shopper? What do they like to buy? W​hy do they buy your products or services?

Review the above shopper demographics. Each possess different shopping habits. Knowing your demographic will help you plan, budget and market more effectively to each group.

  1. Interact with your customers

Be transparent with your customers, both in-store and online. Address any negative reviews with a friendly, helpful reply.

Does your brand give back or volunteer with charities? That has a lot of pull with younger generations. Use your charitable work as a way to open a conversation with volunteer-oriented customers.

No matter your audience, use social media as a tool to interact with customers. Don’t be afraid to ask questions and reply to customers. You can even poll customers on social media about their product preferences, increasing engagement while improving your business.

  1. Build community

Everybody wants a sense of belonging, no matter their age. Community is crucial for your brand to succeed. Community gives proof of concept that customers need to build a relationship with your brand.

Build a community through your social media channels, blog and email list. Meet customers where they are and encourage a sense of camaraderie. This will not only help customers feel welcome, but encourage lifelong loyalty to your brand, too.

The bottom line

Brands used to hold all of the power in the buyer-consumer relationship, but now the tables have turned. Regardless of generation, consumers are driving trends.

Understand your target audience and know their habits. Create a pull with your target demographic to weather any storm, putting your brand on the road to success.

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