While generalizations never paint a fully accurate picture, generational segmentation has longed proved useful to marketers, especially to gauge consumer loyalty. From Baby Boomers to the growing Generation Z cohort, consumer behavior has steadily evolved to reflect mobile preferences and shifts in loyalty.
Consumer Loyalty by Generation
Half of Baby Boomers, or those born between 1945 and 1965 spend around 11 hours per week online according to a 2015 State of the User Experience report. That half is more consumers than the millennial cohort, of which only 42% spend around 11 hours per week online.
It was also revealed in the report that the majority of Boomers do not like personalized web experiences (sites remembering who the user is and making recommendations based on previous actions). This group ranks researching and shopping at the third and fourth priorities of online activity behind news and social media.
A large percentage of that time digitally connected is spent online researching and shopping. Boomers, while very different in behavior within the cohort, generally seek out products and services that save them money, but are willing to pay for brands they value and trust.
Generation X, the smallest cohort, includes consumers born between 1965 and 1980. They love coupons and surveys and are more willing to fill out a survey in exchange for savings, rewards, and exclusive offers. Members of this group are a great target for consumer loyalty initiatives. A few characteristics on this group:
- Skeptical, cautious, and cynical regarding purchase decisions
- Many juggle career and family, and are thus focused on brands that meet their needs
- Driven by savings, discounts, and coupons
This group is highly motivated to join consumer loyalty programs due to potential savings. In fact, 85% of Gen Xers report they join loyalty programs for coupons and discounts, while 71% join to earn rewards. This group is 14% more likely to join a rewards or loyalty program to receive reward benefits. Gen Xers are also willing to earn points or rewards for digitally engaging with a brand (via social media, email campaigns, posting reviews, etc.). However, one study found that 72% of Gen Xers say they aren’t currently enrolled in any loyalty programs which offer rewards for brand engagement.
Millennials have been deemed the most brand loyal generation, with one study finding that 29% will purchase from a specific brand regardless of price. Millennials (those born between 1981 and 1994) are socially-driven having grown up alongside the rise of social media and brand transparency and are constantly digitally connected to two or more devices per day. With unlimited brand choices, the group remains the most loyal for several reasons:
- Social media and the tight-knit spheres of influence it has created allows Millennials to share product preferences and influence buying decisions just by doing what they have grown up doing–digitally sharing and connecting.
- Millennials are more driven by brand name and are thus less likely to switch spending habits due to price changes over brand loyalty.
- This group is resistant to traditional advertising and is driven by customer-centric, interactive, and personalized brand messaging. Product-focused marketing will not impress this generation, but an experience delivered by the brand and a clear message of its benefits will.
People born after 1994 make up what’s classified as Generation Z. This group is projected to make up 40% of consumers by 2020. A large majority of the group takes a price-conscious approach to spending, leading to the perception that Gen Z is the least loyal generational cohort. Gen Z has an estimated $44 billion in spending power. Being born at the height of technological dependency, these digital natives actually prefer to shop in stores, more so than Millennials. Gen Z carry fewer credit cards according to Experian, and are projected to be more financially savvy in the future with a different perspective on money and value from Millennials.