Millennials vs. Baby Boomers: Consumer Behavior and How It Influences Promotions

Marketing
-
Aug 26, 2020
Henry Bewicke
Promotions Advisor
5
Min to read

According to the media, Millennials and Baby Boomers are locked in a perpetual face-off. It’s supposedly a battle between ideologies. Two generations who’ve grown up in very different worlds and have very different opinions as a result.

Regardless of how true that is in reality, there are some undeniable differences between the two generations when it comes to spending habits.

Businesses should be aware of these differences as they can have a big influence on the best ways to promote and sell to each group.

Last year Millennials officially overtook Baby Boomers as the largest adult generational group in the US. Generation X also makes up a sizable portion of the overall population. But, for the sake of comparison we’ll look at Millennials and Baby Boomers only, as the differences between the two groups are more obvious.

Baby Boomers

The Baby Boomer generation stretches from 1946 to 1964. As of 2020 they range in age from 74 to 56. They have some of distinctive characteristics when it comes to consumer behaviors:

  • Prefer buying products in-store rather than online
  • Place importance on quality of interactions with brands and their employees, both in-store and online
  • Value trusted recommendations and reviews when making purchase decisions

Millennials

Millennials sit a generation apart from Baby Boomers, separated by Generation X in between. The Millennial generation spans the years 1981 to 1996, giving Millennials an age range of 39 to 24 in 2020.

Their key consumer behaviors are:

  • Highly ‘omnivorous’ when it comes to the shopping channels they use (desktop, mobile, online)
  • More receptive to social media and word of mouth marketing
  • Much less likely to stay loyal to a particular brand, instead preferring to shop around if a better option is available
  • Enjoy shopping and see it as more of a social activity than earlier generations
Online shopping promotions

Implications for retailers

Millennials and Baby Boomers clearly differ significantly when it comes to their consumer behaviors.

This means businesses need to have very clearly defined sales and promotions strategies for each group.

Being able to differentiate between generational groups at every point in the sales funnel is vital. Without individualized communications, promotions and messaging, sales and customer satisfaction will fall short.

As a result, businesses need platforms and software which can facilitate detailed customer segmentation.

Targeting each group with promotions

Because Millennials and Baby Boomers are very different in their consumer habits, the promotions needed to appeal to them also differ significantly.

Baby Boomers

Firstly, Baby Boomers’ preference for in-store shopping presents a great opportunity for tailored promotions. These could be in-store discounts or special bundle deals (either at point of sale or via geofencing).

Make sure you follow up with great customer service in store. A comprehensive customer loyalty scheme can do wonders for customer retention and sales in the long run.

Baby Boomers are also more likely to look at reviews when making purchase decisions. As a result, you could offer a small discount whenever a customer leaves a product review. A collection of user reviews could help drive sales in the future.

Millennials

By comparison, it’s much better to target millennials with referral schemes. While Millennials and Baby Boomers both send a similar number of referrals, Millennials' referrals are much more likely to convert.

Referral conversion comparison millennials vs. baby boomers

Data from AnnexCloud reveals that Generation X is actually the most effective target for referral programs. But Millennials still top Baby Boomers for referral conversions by a significant margin.

It’s Millennials’ preference for personal recommendations and word of mouth endorsements which makes all the difference here. Consequently, you may want to alter the rewards on offer through your referral scheme to be more attractive to Millennials.

Talon.One's Promotion Engine allows you to create any promotion you want with infinitely variable customer segments. Find out more from the resources in our Content Library or book a demo.

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Kick-Start Your Referral Marketing Programs
Advantages of effective referral programs
The most cost-effective promotion type
How to increase your brand awareness
Download Your Talon.One Loyalty Playbook
Best Practices for loyalty programs
How to gain a competitive advantage
Your definitive guide to loyal customers