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Holiday Shopping 2019: What to Expect from Gen Z to the Silent Generation

Erin Ollila
December 20, 2019

3 minute read

To provide the best holiday shopping experience, smart sales, marketing, and CX teams pay attention to what drives their shoppers, specifically understanding what motivates consumers of various ages to purchase. Here’s the 2019 research that predicts everything from where each generation plans on shopping to what they expect to buy.

Mobile shopping takeover

Shoppers use their smartphones for more than just mobile purchases. During the busy holiday shopping period, they become an indispensable tool to help consumers feel confident they’re getting the best buy. Shopkick, a rewards’ app, surveyed over 29,000 users this year in regard to their holiday shopping plans and habits. They found: “A whopping eighty-four percent [of shoppers] will rely on their phones to research, compare prices, find inspiration, read reviews, and more right in the aisle or while browsing shelves.”

But, who is most likely to end their research by purchasing on their phones? While most of the generations plan on doing some mobile shopping, Shopkick reports that 32% of Millennials plan to do the majority of their shopping on mobile devices, similar to last year.

Who’s searching for deals?

The Shopkick survey found that Gen Zers plan on engaging in sales this holiday season. They were predicted the most likely to shop on Black Friday, and in states that allowed for Thanksgiving day shopping, 41% of Gen Zers were expected in the stores. So, what’s their big pull to the in-store shopping? With the oldest of this age group being only 23, it’s likely that not having access to credit cards plays a significant role in avoiding online shopping. In addition, older teens and young adults treat shopping as a social experience and are likely to engage in the activity with friends.

The speediest and the slowest shoppers

Knowing when consumers will be shopping is also helpful for brands to design how they’ll approach CX and sales. According to Consumer Reports, “The silent generation is speedy. Not only are most of them done by mid-December (67%), a whopping 13% finish before November.”

Expect to see Gen X doing last minute shopping. Consumer Reports calls them Gifcrastinators, and found that 20% of this age bracket puts off their holiday shopping until late December, whereas the other generations averaged only 11% of late shoppers. Baby Boomers come in just a little earlier, with 47% finishing shopping in mid-December.

Don’t forget Fido!

Consumers are buying for friends, family, coworkers, and an extended group of acquaintances, but humans aren’t the only group on the nice list this year. This holiday season consumers will be spending more on their beloved pets, with the younger shoppers spending much more than any other age group.

The PwC 2019 Holiday Outlook report found that “Young consumers spend nearly twice as much on their pets for the holidays than anyone else, especially young millennials aged 24 to 27.” In fact, 12% of this age group’s budget goes toward their furry friends.

And the biggest spenders are…

While 86% of the PwC respondents admitted to planning on spending the same or more on their holiday shopping this year, mature Millennials (ages 33-37) and Gen Xers will outspend the rest. This group is likely earning their highest incomes, and also has the longest list of people to shop for, including children, parents, and potentially even grandchildren, nevermind their friends and colleagues. Though PwC data did find a difference between the two groups: “Almost 40% of Gen X will shop only online while some 30% of mature millennials will shop both online and in stores.”

Erin Ollila
Erin Ollila believes in the power of words and how a message can inform – and even transform – its intended audience. After a 12+ year career in human resources, she's jumped headfirst into digital strategy. Erin is a geek for SEO and all things social media.
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