New research uncovers shopping behaviors and preferences of these generations wielding substantial buying power
Pleasanton, Calif. – August 14, 2019 – Many businesses are hyper-targeting marketing efforts to millennials and Gen Z, but new research released today highlights the shopping patterns of the older, larger core generations: Gen X and baby boomers. Both generations regularly buy via multi-channel experiences, with 82 percent of Gen Xers and boomers surveyed buying in-store at least monthly, and 46 percent of Gen Xers and 40 percent of boomers surveyed shopping online at least monthly. They love to research, are the least likely to be influenced by online reviews and the most likely to have groceries delivered. These are among the findings of the latest research commissioned by global branded payments provider, Blackhawk Network, an authority on retail and consumer insights.
“While marketers should keep their eyes on Gen Z and millennials, they shouldn’t abandon Gen X and boomers. According to research from Epsilon, Gen X and boomers combined still have almost triple the buying power of the younger generations,” said Theresa McEndree, vice president of marketing at Blackhawk Network. “Older generations prefer well-established shopping channels like in-store and online but are willing to try newer options. For instance, they outpace younger generations in buying groceries online for at-home delivery. Considering these preferences helps retail marketers understand how to best reach Gen Xers and boomers regularly and create positive experiences that drive sales.”
Key findings on Gen X and boomer shopper behaviors include:
Gen Xers and boomers love tried-and-true shopping methods.
- Brick-and-mortar is far from dead; 82 percent of Gen Xers and 82 percent of boomers surveyed buy in-store at least monthly. Sixty-six percent of Gen Xers and 72 percent of boomers surveyed shop at brick-and-mortar stores all the time—and the majority reported being satisfied with these experiences.
- Older generations surveyed were more likely than younger generations surveyed to research before they buy (50 percent of Gen Xers and 48 percent of boomers).
- Top shopping influences on Gen Xers and boomers include store circulars. Among those surveyed, Gen Xers and boomers are less likely than Gen Zers and millennials to be influenced by personal recommendations and online reviews.
- Of the four generations surveyed, Gen Xers and boomers reported the lowest likelihood to use newer shopping, purchase and payment options such as voice recognition (VR) or cashier-less checkout in the future.
They’re not afraid to shop online.
- Nearly one in three Gen Xers and one in three boomers surveyed report shopping online via a computer “all the time.”
- When it comes to online shopping, the Gen Xers and boomers surveyed are more likely to use laptops and desktop computers than mobile devices; 74 percent of Gen Xers and 76 percent of boomers surveyed report an interest in shopping online for at-home delivery in the next six months.
- Sixty percent of the Gen Xers and 60 percent of the boomers surveyed have ordered groceries via a laptop or computer with at-home delivery—outpacing younger generations.
In addition to these shopping behaviors, Blackhawk examined generational preferences for and usage of gift cards, a form of branded payment that can help retailers increase reach, loyalty and revenue.
“Retail marketers may not realize they can reach people through payments tools—including branded payments—and gift cards stand out as one of the most effective,” continued McEndree. “Gift cards act like mini billboards in customers’ wallets and can reach people on a very personal level. They can also inform marketing strategy by helping identify touchpoint opportunities, drive specific behaviors and create long-lasting relationships.”
Additional study insights into Gen X and boomer attitudes and preferences toward gift cards include:
Older generations are “traditionalists” and know what they want.
- During gift giving occasions, older generations surveyed remain the top demographics to whom retailers and merchants can market branded payments, like gift cards. Gen Xers (70 percent) and boomers (71 percent) surveyed report purchasing gift cards in the past year and buying them for gift-giving purposes at high rates.
- Gen Xers and boomers surveyed stick to what they know and are comfortable with. When it comes to using gift cards, Gen Xers (86 percent) and boomers (93 percent) surveyed are more likely to stay loyal to the retailers/brands they’ve shopped at in the past versus unfamiliar brands.
- The older generations surveyed are less interested than younger generations surveyed in innovative gift card options like personalization and customization.
- The Gen Xers and boomers surveyed are likely to go to a store knowing the type of gift card they intend to buy. Only four percent of Gen Xers and one percent of boomers surveyed purchase gift cards on an impulse.
- Gen Xers and boomers surveyed spend more on gift cards than younger generations surveyed—whether for self-use or gifting.
About Blackhawk Network
Blackhawk Network delivers branded payment programs to meet our partners’ business objectives. We collaborate with our partners to innovate, translating market trends in branded payments to increase reach, loyalty and revenue. With a presence in over 26 countries, we reliably execute branded payment programs in over 100 countries worldwide. Join us as we shape the future of global branded payments.
Blackhawk is headquartered in Pleasanton, California. For more information, please visit blackhawknetwork.com.
 The Consumer Research study was conducted by Murphy Research on behalf of Blackhawk Network between February 4 and February 12, 2019. The sample size included 10,126 U.S. adults between the ages of 18–75.