Gen Y Shoppers Want To Share, Boomers To Save


No matter how old a person is, getting a great deal on a good product is nice. But a new survey from Brodeur Partners finds that when Gen Y goes shopping, it is expecting an entirely different experience than are Baby Boomers. 

Gen Y, those between the ages of 18 and 34, are more likely to wonder “What does this brand say about me?” and “How can I share this with people I know?” Boomers, on the other hand, are much more focused on practicalities, such as price and quality.

For example, a Gen Y shopper is twice as likely to say that their favorite retailer delivers an experience they’d like to share. And the ability to  “make me smile” is one-third more important to Gen Y than to Boomers.



“What was fascinating is the almost linear progression of the importance of that functional component in the older cohort,” Jerry Johnson, EVP/Strategic planning, tells Marketing Daily. “What we can’t know from this, but what’s interesting, is whether that happens over time, and rational values become more important as we age. Or will Gen Y hang onto the importance of the sensory part of shopping as they age, just as Boomers have hung on to some of their 1960s-era craziness?”

Despite those differences, he says, “self-identification with a retail brand, the 'I shop there because that’s where people like me shop’ thinking, is consistent across all age groups.”

The study included 2,000 adults, and asked people to name their favorite stores, and then explain what they liked best about the experience. Brodeur found that all types of sensory experiences made more of an impression on younger shoppers, and are key to their buying decisions. The study asked people about 12 different statements to help establish how relevant a given retail brand is to them, and how they connect with them. For example, they may primarily excite (Apple, Target and Red Bull) or communicate shared values (Ford) or stand for dependability (Wal-Mart). 

Those values fell into four categories, explains Johnson, who is based in Brodeur’s Washington, D.C. office: Functional, social, values and sensory. “For the older group, 88% fell in the functional category. For the Gen Y group, functional was also the most popular, with 50% choosing it as No. 1. But the remainder was equally split among social, values and sensory.

“So if I were a CMO of a retailer who had been devoting a lot of time and spending on social and sensory marketing,” he says, “I’d be feeling pretty good. To Gen Y, this stuff really matters.”

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