How holiday shoppers differ by generation

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By: Wise Marketer Staff |

Posted on November 28, 2007

Whether they were braving the crowds on Black Friday, surfing the internet for deals on Cyber Monday, or choosing a retail store to visit, the latest Maritz Poll examining the holiday shopping preferences of Generation Y, Generation X, Baby Boomers and the 'Silent Generation' has revealed some interesting differences.

Large crowds, long queues, and jammed car parks are only a few of the main reasons why consumers say they dread shopping during the holiday season. Consequently, Maritz argues, retailers could increase traffic to their stores by simply improving the whole experience based on their target audience's preferences.

Top experience improvers

Main requests
1. More staff
2. More offers
3. More friendly

When asked about the single most important improvement that retailers can make to create a better holiday shopping experience, 38% of the consumers surveyed cited "more sales and special holiday offers". In addition, 49% recommended that retailers should "add more associates for check-out and returns", and 22% suggested "training personnel to maintain a friendlier attitude toward shoppers".

For Gen X and Gen Y consumers, in terms of improvements to their overall shopping experiences, both were significantly more likely than other generations to prefer longer store hours (Gen X: 25%, Gen Y: 19%) and Gen Y was significantly more likely to choose valet parking (9%) than any other generation.

"Gen X and Gen Y are busy people who are likely juggling rising careers and young families while shopping for parents, spouses, children, extended family and friends," explained Gloria Park Bartolone, vice president for Maritz Research Retail Group. "While valet parking might seem extravagant, retailers that provide time-saving services will be better able to capture the Gen X and Gen Y spend."

That Black Friday feeling...
According to the poll, consumer buying behaviours vary greatly by generation. Gen X, on average, planned to spend the most money on holiday shopping (US$778) while Gen Y said it would spend the least (US$549). Boomers and the Silent Generation each expected to spend an average of around US$600.

Retailers can also expect a significant portion of Gen X's holiday spending to occur early in the season, with the group saying on average they would do 46% of their shopping (more than any other generation) on Black Friday this year. The Silent Generation expected to do only 38% of its shopping on Black Friday (the day after Thanksgiving), which was less than any other generation.

Cyber Monday (the Monday following Thanksgiving) was set to benefit most from Gen X (30%) and Gen Y (24%) who were both significantly more likely to shop online than any other generation.

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