Millennial, Gen X And Boomer Women: Not As Different As You Might Think

The great differences between the Millennial, Gen X and Boomer generations are a subject of many studies and debate. These groups, born into different economic, political, and technical environments, are typically discussed based on their unique, differentiating attributes, as marketers try to develop strategies that uniquely target each population.

However, across multiple studies, we’ve seen not just differences, but similarities across women of all generations.

With this in mind, we embarked on an exploration of women across Millennial, Gen X and Boomer segments, to understand what common attributes might exist that can help marketers develop strategies to address consumers across the age spectrum.  

Our findings might surprise you. Despite some key distinctions in areas such as communication preferences and smartphone usage, women of all ages share similarities when it comes to their shopping habits and use of social media.



Here are some of our key findings:

1) Across generations, women are heavy users of social media

  • Facebook is the great common denominator in social media, with 91% of all women visiting once a week, and no meaningful differences between Boomers (88%), Gen X (91%) and Millennials (93%)
  • The next most common social networks are Pinterest (58%), Twitter (51%), and Youtube (49%).  Almost half of the Boomers (46%) use Pinterest, while just over a third use Twitter (36%) and Youtube (36%) 
  • In terms of social media behavior, across generations it’s all about photos and family:  74% of all women and 61% of Boomers share photos, and 64% of all women share family stories. 

2) Despite age differences, women share similar purchasing habits

  • Across all ages, price (74%, +/- 2% for each generation) trumps convenience (26%, +/- 2% )
  • ECommerce is a shared behavior:  72% of Millennials make purchases on their phones (compared with 65% of Gen X and 38% of Boomers), but all generations are likely to make online purchases via desktop or laptop (74% Millennials, 76% Gen X and 81% Boomers), 
  • For women of all ages, 66% cite a review on a retailer’s website such as or as a primary influence in purchasing a product. Meanwhile, Millennial and Gen X women are more likely than Boomers to have been influenced by a coupon they saw on a social network, a blog review, or a photo on Pinterest when making a purchase.

3) Distinct differences in communication preferences

  • 29% of Millennials are most likely to use their mobile phones to do personal email vs. only 7% of Boomers. 79% of Boomers are most likely to use their desktops/laptops for personal email, compared with only 61% of Millennials
  • 72% of Millennials video chat, compared to 53% of Boomers
  • Although social media is the No. 1 way for women of all generations to stay connected on a daily basis, Millennials are more likely to text (32% vs. 21% of Boomers). Boomers are more likely to cite email (16% vs. 5% of Millennials) and talking on the phone (18% vs. 4% for Millennials) as their preferred way to stay in touch

4) Not surprisingly, Millennials more comfortable with smartphones

  • 70% of Millennial and 65% of Gen X women use their smartphone or tablet each week as part of their shopping process, with 20% of Millennial women saying they plan to make more purchases on their mobile phones in the next six months
  • Millennials are more comfortable purchasing all types of products with their smartphones, including downloadable music (56%); downloadable books (48%); beauty products (41%); toys/games (35%) and general household items (34%)
  • Millennial women are most likely to use their smartphones to play games (36% compared to 26% of Gen X and 11% of Boomers)

Brands have an opportunity to not only focus on the differences but also similarities when marketing to women of all generations. Doing so can help build more successful marketing and content programs, as well as to create efficiencies across media and communication efforts.

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