Generational Holiday Shopping Habits May Surprise You

By 1stFive Archives
Cover image for  article: Generational Holiday Shopping Habits May Surprise You

The holiday season is here and that means brands are feverishly courting consumers through social media and shopping apps, as well as by enhancing the online shopping experience. But is this what consumers really want? Many marketers make assumptions about the preferences of demographic groups such as baby boomers, millennials, and Gen Z. If those beliefs are incorrect, it could lead to missed opportunities.

Adobe Analytics research shows that consumers have spent a whopping $72 billion thus far this holiday season. To ensure their brand gets in on the spending yet to come, the best thing marketers can do is let each generation's shopping habits speak for themselves.

There may be a temptation, for example, to focus exclusively on online shopping when targeting Gen Z. But this generation is actually just as likely to line up for Black Friday doorbusters as previous generations. In fact, according to the National Retail Federation and Prosper Insights & Analytics, shoppers under 25 are actually more likely to do their holiday shopping in stores than millennials and baby boomers. In fact, a Deloitte survey asked Gen Zers where they would shop over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend and 80 percent said brick-and-mortar stores.

One factor drawing in younger crowds: the convenience of those physical store locations. Brands that are socially responsible are also likely to win the favor of Gen Z shoppers, as well as millennials. Full transparency is a third factor. A Mintel survey revealed that 43 percent of Gen Zers and 46 percent of millennials are inclined to support brands that are fully transparent in their business practices.

As Gen Zers cozy up to socially responsible brands with convenient brick-and-mortar locations, older generations are increasingly shopping online. A nationwide survey conducted by Business Insider indicates that Gen Z is the only generation surveyed who showed a preference for Black Friday over Cyber Monday (54.8 percent). Meanwhile, a perhaps surprising 61.3 percent of baby boomers declared their love for Cyber Monday — that's more than any other generation surveyed.

Marketers may be inclined to believe the stereotypes of technologically inept seniors, but that's rarely the case today. After years of wading through endless crowds to grab gifts and braving traffic only to find deals that don't meet their needs, many of today's boomers would rather kick back and scroll through Cyber Monday deals than deal with the chaos and frustrations of Black Friday. When marketing to this demographic this holiday season, consider how much to emphasize online versus brick-and-mortar shopping.

One final consideration: Don't make assumptions on which generations will be the biggest spenders. The Business Insider study shows that millennials are the most active shoppers of any generation from Thanksgiving through Cyber Monday, with baby boomers participating the least — but that activity may not match their overall holiday spending. Research from Finder reveals that baby boomers, on average, plan to spend the most this holiday season ($626.35), followed by Gen X ($459.72), with millennials spending the least ($252.11). According to NDP Group, Gen Z will spend the least, but plans to spend more than they did last year.

This leaves marketers with a dilemma: Is it best to market to younger consumers, who are turning out in larger crowds but spending less, or to older ones, who have bigger budgets but are less active in the shopping scene? We'll leave it up to you to decide.

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