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The Great Generational Shopping Divide: Feedback and Patterns of Boomers, Gen X, Millennials, and Gen Z

By Alex Passett September 25, 2023

It’s a no-brainer that a person born in 1955 is going to approach omnichannel shopping quite differently than people born in 1975, 1995, and even 2005, respectively. This spans the Baby Boomer generation, Gen X, Millennials, and Gen Z. (Editor’s note: It’s tough to gauge data right now regarding Gen Alpha – those born 2013 to 2025 – given that’s still ongoing and it’s also essentially an entire generation born with the internet and smart technologies as commonplace. Many Gen Z “zoomers” and Gen A demographics can’t recall life before the all-but-omnipotent presence of the blue, red, yellow and green of Google.) On the flipside, boomers can recall these pre-smart-everything ways of living, but many are less receptive to changes that came with the iPhone and now with the likes of ChatGPT. Granted, the whole of what makes up perceptions of boomers is far from a monolith (and fairness should be practiced), but there does exist a divide:

We’ve got people rooted in largely outmoded traditions, resistant to the loud billows that come with integral technological change. (Again, not all, per se; I write this as a person born in 1993, but with biases shelved.) Then, we’ve got people that remember vividly the AOL dial-up connection sounds while simultaneously being versed in what trends on TikTok. And, as mentioned, kids who play on their parents’ iPads at lunch. (I can almost hear Bo Burnham’s “Welcome to the Internet” lurking in the background…)

So, this divide. It’s very real.

For our CustomerZone360 purposes, what might this divide indicate when it comes to online consumerism and omnichannel shoppers? What would my mother (born in ’55) say about the crusade of everything from Amazon to Temu? Will zoomers opt to shop at brick-and-mortar stores over the next decade?

While nothing’s yet for certain, we do have new data from Near Intelligence to dig into.

So, let’s.

In its new study titled “The Great Generational Shopping Divide,” Near Intelligence has presented data regarding the clear generational divisions between modern consumer behaviors. Whether it concerns expectations from brands, unique retailer preferences, shopping patterns or even broad outlooks on what lies ahead, Near Intelligence has a trove consumer behavior data to dissect.

Surveying 2,048 customers from the United States, the United Kingdom, and Australia, the report explored general omnichannel shopping experiences, how factors involving personalization and proximity play their roles, and generational spending patterns.

Let’s browse the takeaways.

Omnichannel Shopping Experiences: Though online shopping has been adopted in a profound way, results still showed that:

  • 80.1% of respondents across generations are shopping online
  • Gen Z (62.7%) and millennials (64.6%) are twice as likely as boomers to really use omnichannel approaches (32.9%), where shoppers used more than one channel on their purchase journey
  • 52% of respondents overall have adopted omnichannel behaviors

Personalization: Gen Z and millennials alike are seeking deeper engagement and very personalized experiences from brands and shopping centers:

  • 88.2% of Gen Z and millennials want to engage with their favorite shopping center, versus 53.3% of boomers)
  • 53.7% of Gen Z and millennials shop more from brands that have an app, versus 20.5% of boomers
  • 84.3% of Gen Z and millennials are more consistently encouraged to shop in stores with personalized in-store recommendations based on previous shopping history, versus 59% of Gen X and boomers

Proximity: A shopping center’s proximity to a respondent’s home is very much a critical factor:

  • 57.1% of respondents consider proximity to home a top priority, while just 15.8% of respondents consider proximity to work a factor
  • 64.4% of working-aged respondents (18-65) are commuting to an office at least one day a week; this is higher for younger generations (72.2% of Gen Z and 70.3% of millennials)
  • 56.5% of office commuters say remote and hybrid working makes it much easier to shop Mondays through Fridays

Spending Patterns: Younger consumers plan to spend more on shopping for the rest of the year compared to last year, including during the holidays:

  • 51.6% of Gen Z and 47.7% of millennials plan to spend more for the rest of the year, versus just 29.3% of Gen X and 20.6% of boomers
  • However, millennials and Gen X shoppers have been the most impacted by the economy - 42.3% of millennials and 42.7% of Gen X say the economy is affecting their spending plans a lot, versus 33% of Gen Z and 34.2% of boomers
  • Gen Z and millennials are most likely to shop the hottest sales over Black Friday weekend and Cyber Monday; 43.8% of Gen Z and 41.4% of millennials plan to, versus just 27.8% of Gen X and 18.9% of boomers

Made evident by Near Intelligence, data is (and will remain) the key.

"Many retailers simply don’t have the data they need to properly navigate today’s ever-changing retail landscape, and they must be armed with valuable consumer insights to ensure they’re making the right business decisions, while also keeping pace with their shoppers’ latest desires,” said Anil Mathews, the company’s CEO. “Given these findings, retail decision-makers have the ability to unlock immense value through our new data and gain competitive insights.”

Edited by Greg Tavarez
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