Q&A: Differences In Gen Y, Gen X, Boomer Women


  Just because more marketers are casting dads-with-grocery-carts in their ads doesn't mean it's true. A new study from Vertis Communications shows that women have actually gained ground as shoppers-in-chief in recent years, with the number of women acting as chief family cart-pusher for big-ticket items rising 4% between 2006 and 2010, and the number of male chief shoppers actually falling 4% during that time. Other surprises? Baby Boomer women are actually less worried about price, and more open to new ideas than Gen X shoppers, while Gen Y women take direct mail to the store and Boomers actually read it.

Marketing Daily asked Janet Tonner, Vertis' director of research and analytics, to dish about the research, based on a survey of 2,500 adults.

Q: So what's the biggest misconception marketers have these days about women shoppers?



A: Misunderstanding generational differences. For example, advertisers are constantly aiming for younger women, when it's pretty clear that Baby Boomer women are one of the most influential shoppers. And there's this idea that older women are less tech-savvy, but the digital divide is decreasing across generations. Almost 60% of Gen Y and Gen X women read inserts and direct mail, for example, and Gen Y women are the most likely to actually take a piece of direct mail with them when they go into the store. Boomer women actually watch TV more, but Gen X and Gen Y buying decisions are more influenced by the medium.

Q: Did you find generational differences about value?

A: Yes, but again, they were surprising. I think because people see the older end of Baby Boomers getting close to retirement, and assume these women are more value conscious, but they're not. Gen X and Gen Y women are much more price-focused, and they're the ones most likely to buy store brands, too.

Q: How else do Boomer women differ from Xers?

A: Baby Boomers are actually much more welcome about new ideas and exploring new ways to do things. I think it's a mistake that so many marketers assume they are like the preceding generation, the Silent Generation, when they are so different.

Gen X, on the other hand, is very traditional these days. They are the most resistant to change. Gen Xers are solidly in their peak earning years, and they're balancing work, motherhood, and increasingly, caring for older parents. They're the busiest. They're the most value conscious. And they don't want edginess. Where they are in their lives right now, it's all about simplification and convenience and value and quality.

Q: Other notable differences?

Brand loyalty. The youngest groups are much more about values and brands than their older counterparts. But we saw lots of things that aren't different, too. For example, when it comes to issues affecting the world; for example, all three generations had just about the same attitudes about things like recycling and community service.

1 comment about "Q&A: Differences In Gen Y, Gen X, Boomer Women ".
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  1. Martin Gertler from BoomerHead, Inc., June 17, 2011 at 9:12 a.m.

    Thank you for being among the first to actually speak about Boomer women as a significant buying force in the mainstream. While the majority of marketers continue to look to Gen X and Gen Y to build brand loyalty for the long term, they're missing the fact that Boomers are making new brand decisions every day because all those brands that used to speak to them have shown by their actions that this audience is not part of the brand's future. Big, big mistake.

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