- New research by payments company Blackhawk Network finds that despite all the attention paid to millennial and Gen Z consumers, Gen X and Baby Boomers have substantial purchasing power and are not only buying in-store and online but are open to experimenting with new platforms, as well.
- Across Gen X and boomer shoppers surveyed, nearly one in three reported shopping online “all the time,” while 60% of both groups have ordered groceries online with at-home delivery – a rate higher than Gen Z and millennials.
- The survey of more than 10,000 U.S. adults between the ages of 18 and 75 also found that 46% of Gen X'ers and 40% of boomers shop online at least once monthly. Eighty-two percent of both groups say they shop in brick-and-mortar stores at least once a month, though most are not inclined to use new payment options like voice recognition and cashier-less checkout.
Millennials – and more recently Gen Z – have been the center of retail marketing strategies over the past few years. This new survey, however, shows companies should not overlook the buying power of Generation X and baby boomers. The younger generations are no doubt influential, but older shoppers also play an important role in shaping cutting-edge innovations.
U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports show that Gen X spends more money on food and wine than any generation. This group tends to look for quality, customization and convenience. They’re also making food purchases for and influencing the tastes of their Gen Z children, creating an opportunity to shape brand loyalties for this next generation of shoppers.
Blackhawk’s research finds that Gen X'ers and boomers are both inclined to shop in-stores, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t also shopping online. A U.S. Grocery Shopper Trends report from July found that the number of Gen X shoppers buying groceries online grew from 29% to 40% from 2018 to 2019. The main distinction is that these consumers are more likely to use laptops and desktop computers than younger shoppers.
According to Nielsen, boomers account for $230 billion in annual spending on consumer packaged goods. They also like online grocery, and especially home delivery, which offers a level of convenience their generation appreciates. The biggest obstacles here are steep fees and concerns over freshness, but boomer shoppers want delivery and they want it fast.
While neither Gen X nor boomers are afraid to shop online, the in-store experience still matters. Both groups tend to be very loyal to their favorite stores, according to Blackhawk, and are more likely to stay loyal to their favorite brands. They’re also going to spend more time researching products before they buy, with 50% saying they read up before purchasing.
Because of their predilection for research, both Gen Z and boomers say store circulars influence their shopping choices, moreso than recommendations of family, friends or online reviews. Gift cards are also proving effective in reaching these shoppers. Both generations report purchasing gift cards in the past year for gift giving or for themselves.
As boomers age and their mobility decreases, they may spend even more online, so retailers should work to secure their loyalty early. Including these shoppers and Gen X'ers in outreach efforts may not seem as trendy as targeting young shoppers, but it promises to drive sales.