Generational buying trends are quickly changing retailer concepts. The three generational segments with the most buying power shop very differently and have different expectations for how they want retailers to treat them.
Here’s a breakdown of generational buying trends, by generation, to help understand how these groups differ, and ultimately help deliver a better retail experience.
Baby Boomer Shoppers
Baby Boomers are a little old-school. They are looking for a streamlined, well planned, in-store shopping experience. Boomers represent 81.3 million U.S. shoppers, so their traditional way of shopping is an indicator that brick-and-mortar isn’t going away any time soon. With 84 percent of Boomers indicating in a recent study by Colloquy that they prefer an in-store shopping experience, a well-planned store space isn’t a component of the retail story that can be ignored.
Boomers will shop online if they can’t get what they need in-store, but their online tendencies trend more toward retailers’ sites they are more familiar with from their in-store experience.
What happens if Boomers don’t have their needs met during a shopping experience? They are the most likely generation to boycott a store if it doesn’t meet their needs. The risk of a total boycott provides a real risk for retailers catering to the Baby Boomer set. Shopping experience expectations must be met in order for retailers to avoid risking lost revenue.
Millennials aren’t looking for a traditional retail experience. Millennials are control freaks. They want total control of their in-store experience. Think about non-traditional check-out options, like self-check-out kiosks and avoiding lines waiting for store clerks.
Millennials are flexible about shopping online versus in-store, but when they do go into a store they want to know that store is specialized in what they are looking for. Millennials tend to avoid department and big box stores because they lose control of their experience in the larger, more general format.
According to the recent Colloquy study, 41 percent of the 92.7 million American shoppers who fall into the millennial generation shop online at least once a week. While this isn’t quite half, it is a trend that shows when millennials want something quickly without taking time to go to a store, they will pick up their mouse, and their wallet.
Generation Z Shoppers
If millennials want control, Generation Z wants shopping to happen quickly. Almost half of the 77.9 million Generation Z shoppers surveyed by Colloquy prioritized finding items quickly as the most important component of the shopping experience.
Gen Z want a smooth experience as fast as possible. They are the hunters, not gatherers, in a store. 60% of Generation Z shoppers surveyed by the National Retail Federation indicated that they simple won’t use apps or websites with bad user experiences. This could be sites that are slow to load, or have a bad digital layout.
So, if they are particular about a digital experience but want to shop fast, where does Generation Z go? NRF says 67 percent (that’s two thirds!) shop in brick-and-mortar stores most of the time. Physical stores have proved to be dependable and the shopping experience is well-refined and consistent, so Gen Z can get in and out at their own speed.
For retailers, the big takeaway as we outline generational buying trends, is understanding their primary demographics. If retailers have a multi-generational demographic, they need to understand how to cater to each generation to cultivate success and avoid losing customers due to the shopping experience. Generational buying trends are critical to customer and brand loyalty.