How Do Millennials and Boomers Vary in Their Shopping Attitudes?

December 13, 2016

colloquy-millennial-boomer-shopping-attitudes-dec2016Retailers focus much of their efforts on Millennials, but could be ignoring the generation with the most “clout,” according to a report from COLLOQUY that uncovers some differences in the shopping habits of these generations. The research suggests that Millennials (22-35) are more likely to approach shopping as fun and relaxing, whereas Boomers (52-65) are more interested in convenience.

According to the report, Boomers have higher expectations of the shopping experience than Millennials, being less likely to return to a store if they felt under-appreciated by sales associates, if making a return was too much hassle, or if the store was too messy or disorganized.

Rather than see shopping as a great way to relax (45% of Millennials strongly agreed with this statement, compared to 27% of Boomers), the older generation prioritizes convenience, evidenced by the importance they place on easy-to-access locations and stores that are easy to navigate.

Perhaps reflecting their more relaxed approach to shopping, Millennials seem more likely to make impulse purchases. In fact, more than twice as many Millennials (33%) as Boomers (13%) strongly agreed that they tend to shop and buy without thinking, making impulse purchases. Millennials were also less likely than Boomers to say that they know the price they pay for most of the foods and packaged goods they buy (57% vs. 64%), and more likely to say that if they like something, they’ll buy it regardless of price (38% vs. 29%). (Perhaps this harks back to Millennials’ self-reported troubles with money management?)

At the same time, Boomers could be the more brand-loyal generation: while 46% of Millennials said they value price over brand name, only 36% of Boomers shared that sentiment. (More on Millennials and brand loyalty here.)

Not surprisingly, the report finds the younger generation to be be more digitally-oriented, being more likely to prefer shopping online to avoid stores and to use mobile devices when shopping. One-third also take to social media to voice feelings after a bad experience with a store, compared to slightly fewer than 1 in 5 Boomers.

Finally, the results support a growing body of evidence suggesting that word-of-mouth is more important to Millennials than to Baby Boomers. Indeed, Millennials (32%) responding to the study were almost 3 times as likely as Boomers (12%) to strongly agree that they rely on friends and family for advice on what to purchase.

About the Data: The results are based on a survey of almost 4,500 North American shoppers (2,251 in the US and 2,242 in Canada) fielded from February 4-20.

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