Corporate Eye

Similarities and Differences Between Millennial and Boomer Shoppers

shopping people bags arrowsNew research from Radius Global Market Research reveals important similarities and differences between millennial and boomer shoppers. Brand marketers can use the data to find and exploit the best ways to engage with consumers throughout the purchase decision-making process.

The study surveyed a representative group of U.S. households during the third quarter of 2013 to analyze purchase trends among Millennials (defined as people between the ages of 18 and 32) and Boomers (defined as people between the ages of 49 and 67). Some of the key similarities and differences are discussed below.

What Matters Most to Consumers When Making a Purchase Decision?

Both Millennials and Boomers focus primarily on quality or price depending on the category they’re buying a product from. However, differences can be found within the four categories included in the study (apparel, big-ticket purchases like travel and electronics, packaged goods, and financial products). For example, Millenials ranked quality as the top factor in apparel purchase decisions while Boomers ranked price as most important.

Where Do Consumers Research Product Information?

Both Millennials and Boomers are likely to use a desktop computer to research product information online, but Millenials are more than four times more likely to do product research using a smartphone (60%) than Boomers are (14%). On the other hand, Boomers are twice as likely to search for information about products prior to making a purchase using newspapers and magazines (38%).

What Source Is the Biggest Influence on Purchase Decisions?

When it comes to finding information about products that people trust enough to actually make a purchase decision, Millennials rank word-of-mouth (including all forms—offline, online, social media, and so on) as the most influential source across all four categories in the study. For Millennials, search engines also ranked as one of the top three most important purchase decision influencers in all four categories.

On the other hand, Boomers only ranked word-of-mouth as the most important purchase influencer in two categories—financial products and big-ticket items. For Boomers, word-of-mouth ranked as the third most influential source for apparel purchases and didn’t rank in the top three at all for purchase decisions related to packaged goods. Instead, the study found that Boomers are often most influenced by traditional ads and suggestions from salespeople.

Using the information from this study in combination with your own research data about your customers’ purchase paths, you can create more effective, integrated marketing plans that leverage the right opportunities to connect with consumers at the best times, in the best places, and with the best messages and offers. If you don’t already have the data you need to effectively track your customers along the purchase decision path, invest budget dollars and resources into collecting and analyzing that essential data. Your marketing programs will improve and the number of completed purchases will increase as a result.

Follow the link at the beginning of the article to learn more about the study results.

Image: John Manly

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Susan Gunelius is the author of 10 marketing, social media, branding, copywriting, and technology books, and she is President & CEO of KeySplash Creative, Inc., a marketing communications company. She also owns Women on Business, an award-wining blog for business women. She is a featured columnist for and, and her marketing-related articles have appeared on websites such as,,, and more. She has over 20 years of experience in the marketing field having spent the first decade of her career directing marketing programs for some of the largest companies in the world, including divisions of AT&T and HSBC. Today, her clients include large and small companies around the world and household brands like Citigroup, Cox Communications, Intuit, and more. Susan is frequently interviewed about marketing and branding by television, radio, print, and online media organizations, and she speaks about these topics at events around the world. You can connect with her on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, or Google+.