2022 Digital Consumer Trends by Age Group

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Whether marketing to Millennials or getting buy-in from Boomers, each generation has its very own distinct attitudes and quirks when it comes to what compels them to purchase. Of course there are lots of obtuse stereotypes and tired presumptions when it comes to what elicits action from generational consumers and what they expect from the brands they do business with. 

So rather than merely guess, we spoke to over 5,000 global consumers, from Gen Z through to Boomers on their attitudes to personalization, privacy, messaging, advertising and brand loyalty. And as we’ve been running our Digital Consumer Trends Index for a few years now, we’re able to chart the genuine shifts and trends in purchasing behavior year-on-year.

64% of Gen Z will pay more to purchase from a favorite brand, 36% more than Boomers

Gen Z (18-25) are truly the first generation of digital natives. For them, multitasking is the new relaxing – flitting between multiple screens and channels at the swipe of a finger. This tribe are quick to mobilize, are shrewd with their spending and trust social proof over any form of advertising. Millennials (26-40) are classed as digital pioneers rather than natives. Millennials bore witness to the explosion of technology at our fingertips and straddle the generational line, happily purchasing from social media, SMS or more traditional formats like email. 

Gen X (41-55) are the last generation that will be considered digital immigrants. Gen X don’t get the same amount of attention as younger or older age groups, often labelled the generational “middle child.” Treat them right and you have a life-long loyal customer. Boomers (56-75) represent the largest amount of buying power, so ignore them at your peril. Boomers hunt the best price, value loyalty points over anything more modern and will be annoyed by substandard personalization. 

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Sales drivers

When it comes to driving sales, email still clicks for the more discerning generations, but if you want the attention of the younger crowd you will need to turn your hand to social media and SMS. 122% more Gen Z than Boomers have made a purchase from a social media post or ad in the past year. And with native capability on every handset, SMS is an effective vehicle to address a large audience and engage with immediacy. Year-on-year, every generation is more comfortable purchasing from an SMS they have received.

Of course, email remains the preeminent channel for receiving deals and messaging from brands. More than half of Gen X and a substantial 59% of Boomers have made a purchase because of an email they received in the last 12 months, with 51% more Boomers than Gen Z.

13% more Boomers than any other generation have made a purchase from an email in the last 12 months

The days of marketers blasting one message to their entire database need to be over

Data doesn’t lie – most marketers are missing the mark when it comes to personalization. In the data economy, where brands have huge portfolios of data on their personalization is more often a buzzword than a genuine tactic. Personalization is the core of relationship marketing, that means a strategy rooted in both first- and zero-party data and creating messaging opportunities based on it to personalize every interaction and differentiate from your competitors.

The older generations are staunch in their annoyance at poor personalization that delivers irrelevant offers or is derived from third-party data. Younger generations are irked by this too, but are also frustrated when their loyalty and purchase history is not taken into account.

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