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Who is today's consumer? From baby boomers to Generation Z

You have probably heard it before. Today's consumer has changed to become less loyal, more focused on the price, and has, in general, higher demands. Why? Because they can. If you do not offer the consumer of today a fair price or generally live up to their expectations, then they are simply making the purchase at your competitor’s shop instead of yours.

October 27, 2020
By Søren Brammer Riis
Retail · e-Commerce


Today's consumer is powerful in more than one sense 

Much has changed in recent years - globalization and technological development have blurred the physical boundaries between consumers and products. It has created a world of opportunities for the consumer and given them a definite position of power in relation to the retailers.

In addition to the power of easily replacing one retailer with another, today's consumer has the power to influence other consumers to do the same. Their response can be decisive in terms of whether potential customers declare your business in or out. This is mainly due to the platform social media has created, because consumers has the opportunity to evaluate your business and communicate their opinions to other consumers.



Keep your eyes on the ball

Imagine that a potential customer is a football - to achieve a sale, the football must be kicked in the goal. If you want to succeed, you obviously have to keep your eyes on the ball and make sure it is kicked the right direction and does not end up off the field or in the arms of the goalkeeper (your competitor). You need to know the ball's size and weight to tell with what force and maneuver it should be kicked forward, towards the goal, past the goalkeeper, and into the goal.


As you get to know the different sizes and types of footballs, it will naturally be easier for you to quickly and safely kick the ball past the goalkeeper and into the goal. This is exactly what we want to help you with in this blog post - of course not to get to know different types of footballs, but rather to get to know different types of consumers. The purpose is that with an insight into consumer behavior distributed among the four generations that are currently responsible for consumption in Denmark, you can get an understanding of what your customers want. That way, you do not only increase your chances of a sale here-and-now, you also ensure that your customers are satisfied. Satisfied customers will return to your business and they will most likely help spread a positive message about your business to other consumers and potential customers.

Baby Boomers - 56 to 74 years old 

The oldest generation of consumers are the Baby Boomers. To Baby Boomers, shopping trips can seem stressful. Therefore, an easy and convenient shopping experience is essential to them. A report by Colloquy (referred in an article by SalesForce) states that Baby Boomers are the generation that finds shopping the least relaxing.


Baby Boomers


Perhaps not surprisingly, Baby Boomers are also the generation that prefers to shop in a physical store the most. For 85 percent of the Baby Boomers surveyed by Colloquy, the in-store shopping experience is the first choice. If a product is available online and in a nearby store, 67 percent of Baby Boomers surveyed prefer to buy in the physical store. However, this does not mean that Baby Boomers are uncomfortable browsing and shopping online - 85 percent of the aforementioned survey’s Baby Boomers research products online and 66 percent shop regularly online.


Therefore, the preference for shopping in a physical store is not based on a problem navigating in the online universe, but rather on high expectations for good and personal customer service. According to LoyaltyOne, Baby Boomers tend to not buy from a business again if they have experienced a bad service from an employee. 


The customer service Baby Boomers experience receive from your staff is crucial to whether they will make a purchase in your store in the future. Although Baby Boomers prefer to shop in your physical store because this is where they most often experience personal service, you can easily accommodate their desire for personal service on your webshop. A technology named Raptor can help you with that. With Raptor, you can track your customers' movements around your webshop, and that way, translate this data into personalized product views. Thus, your customers will have a personal service experience - also when they shop in your webshop.


Although 82 percent of the Baby Boomers from the survey are on social media, it is not a platform they use to share or look at reviews and ratings of brands or products. Baby Boomers are not very likely to listen to their network when buying a product. Only 12 percent say that they ask friends or family for help with a purchase decision. Instead, it is the brand's overall popularity that matters when it comes to buying a new product they are not already familiar with. To achieve this kind of popularity, it is relevant to create brand awareness by being present and visible on several different channels - it can be through social media, a physical store, and a webshop. Also, it can be valuable to devote time and resources to SEO - this way, you can make sure that your business ranks high when Baby Boomers search for a product you sell in Google.


Generation X - 40 to 53 years

Among consumers from Generation X, there is a tendency to be skeptical of overt marketing tactics. This means that you do not get consumers in this generation as customers through flashy advertising, but rather by communicating "proof-of-performance."

To avoid regretting a purchase, consumers from Generation X usually do not buy a product until they have done thorough research. This means that they look through search engines, online reviews, and social media before making the decision to purchase. Making your business and products visible online - for example, through webshop SEO or having an active presence on social media- is a valuable feature to reach consumers in Generation X.


Consumers from Generation X regularly check their email, which is why it is a relevant channel to use to get their attention. Like Baby Boomers, they value high-quality personal service - it is crucial to their willingness to be loyal to a brand. They perceive store employees as people who can relate to them at a consumer level and who will present them with the best options, rather than trying to create additional sales or upselling.


generation X



It may be relevant to use data about your Generation X customers’ previous purchase history to send them personalized and targeted offers via email. This way, you do not only increase your chances of reaching them by communicating through email - a platform they actively use. You also meet their desire to experience a personal service by conveying personal and tailored offers to them. Thus, you increase your chances of selling here-and-now and of increasing customer loyalty in the future.


Generation Y (Millenials) - 23 to 39 years

Millennials use web devices (e.g., mobile, tablet, or computer) in almost every aspect of their lives – e.g., for social media, research, shopping, and even when shopping in your physical store.


The previously mentioned Colloquy survey shows that 68 percent of Millenials require a business to offer omnichannel convenience. In other words, they expect to be able to move effortlessly between your various sales channels - that their consumer data is transferred from their mobile phone to their computer, to your physical store, and back again.

Are you unsure exactly what omnichannel is and entails? Read our in-depth answer to the question
What is omnichannel? here.

The younger part of Millenials are most likely to shop in a physical store, whereas the older part prefers to shop via their mobile phone. However, the physical store will be the overall first choice for Millenials if a product is available on all sales channels.


In contrast to Baby Boomers, Millennials consider shopping to be a relaxing and social activity, and the majority listen to their friends when deciding what to purchase. 



However, it is not their friends but other consumers who have the most significant impact on the purchasing decision. In the Colloquy survey, 68 percent of the Millennials admit to being heavily influenced by social media. 84 percent say that content based on other consumers' experiences affects what they buy.


Therefore, you must recognize the impact social media has on Millenials in their buying process. Although they value their family and friends' opinions, they seek out information about other consumers' experiences, and this information is more critical. 90 percent of the Millennials from the survey say that they research product reviews online. Most tend to trust other consumers' reviews of a particular business or product over the people they know. Therefore, it is no surprise that 82 percent state that word-of-mouth has the primary influence on their purchasing decision.


Like the consumers from Generation X, Millennials are skeptical of overt marketing tactics. They will tend to reject retailers who continuously push their products on them. Instead, they prefer an authentic interaction with salespeople who are also consumers of their products. Millennials also tend to communicate with brands and retailers through social media to be heard.


Generation Z - 10 to 22 years

Generation Z consumers are digital natives and do not remember a time before the internet, which has become the foundation of their buying process. They use Google to compare prices, availability, and ratings of products to make the best possible deal. Their expertise in price-checking tools also means that consumers from Generation Z are more selective when it comes to buying an expensive product. Many will only buy the product on sale or postpone the buying process and wait until a newer version of the product is available.

Generation Z


Although Generation Z consumers do much of their research online, they still enjoy visiting physical stores with friends and family. In fact, 84 percent of Generation Z consumers from the survey plan shopping trips as a social activity - visiting physical stores with friends and family.

Generation Z consumers contribute to consumer-generated content by expressing their opinion about a brand or product online. Consumer-generated content is essential if you want to sell to this generation. Not only are consumers from this generation strongly influenced by word-of-mouth but they are also actively participating. It can, therefore, be valuable to collaborate with influencers. An influencer is a person with many followers on social media who makes money of promoting various products to their followers. Influencers can help you reach more people through social media; they can get you more followers and promote your products. You must partner with one or more influencers relevant to your brand and whose followers are the type of consumer you want to reach. For example, you do not want a teenage boy who has never worn makeup to share and comment on your new makeup remover. It can seem untrustworthy when he speaks about a product, he obviously does not know anything about. Secondly, the type of consumer who follows him will most often be more or less like himself. Your product will, therefore, mainly be promoted to a kind of consumer who does not find it relevant.

Working with an agency that can help you find the right influencers to promote your business may be relevant. Once you have partnered with one or more influencers, you should be clear about your expectations but give them creative freedom to create unique and engaging content.

Although they are digital natives, Generation Z consumers prefer to shop physically, rather than online. However, it is still the online universe that drives this generation's shopping experience - in terms of research on prices, products, reviews, etc. Therefore, do not underestimate the importance of your presence on social media and various search engines.