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From Gen Z to the Silent Generation: How Consumers Are Tackling Holiday Shopping This Year

Erin Ollila
December 20, 2018

2 minute read

Holiday traditions like Black Friday continue to engage shoppers across generations. However, where malls and parking lots were once the only congested places, now online waiting rooms contain consumers hoping to check big-ticket items off their lists. The rise of the online holiday shopping experience even lead to the introduction of Cyber Monday–Black Friday’s digital counterpart–in 2005.

While all generations continue to find their way to physical stores at some point in their shopping experience, is the generational divide apparent in how each group actually purchases their gifts? Here are three ways consumers across generations are taking on their holiday shopping lists this year.

2018 Holiday Shopping Trends Across Generations infographic

Hey, Alexa? Gen Z shops though voice search

A few generations grew up “shopping” through an inch-thick catalog before heading to department stores to complete their purchases, but Generation Z was born into a completely digital landscape. This group of consumers doesn’t even so much as glance at traditional advertisements when shopping. A recent study which analyzed ad campaigns targeted toward Gen Z found that 90% of impressions missed the target. Instead, their holiday shopping is completed with the help of AI and voice search.

Shopkick, a shopping rewards app, surveyed over 7,000 users this year to better understand how they were shopping and what they were planning to buy during the holidays. They found, “While most people (54 percent) plan to go to physical stores for the majority of their holiday shopping, nearly 1 in 5 Gen Z shoppers will be turning to Alexa, Siri, and other virtual and voice assistants to help them buy the perfect holiday gifts online.”

The Generational Gap: Budgeters and big spenders

According to a recent poll by Branded, a data insight company, one in two shoppers entered this holiday season with a set budget. Their results found that “Approximately 56 percent of Millennials and 53 percent of Gen X (age 39-50) have a holiday spending budget compared to 47 percent of Baby Boomers (age 51-69) and 34 percent of the Silent Generation (age 70+).”

The Shopkick survey also indicated that older generations will be spending more than their younger counterparts this year. But, what will they be buying? According to the survey, “The Silent Generation outspends all other generations (3 times as much) on sporting goods, and plans to spend the most (39 percent of their planned holiday budget) on apparel.”

Mobile shopping on the rise with Millennials

“It’s expected that more holiday orders will be placed on a smartphone than any other device this holiday season, especially as social networks like Instagram continue to act as digital malls that invite you in and then link straight to retail site,”says Jessica Lehmann, Strategy Director at FITCH, a retail and brand consultancy, in an interview for another SmarterCX article.

And, what generation will be using their smartphones the most to shop? Millennials. The PwC 2018 Holiday Outlook report found that “42% of Millennials are partial to shoppable photos; they also prefer mobile to desktop for online shopping.” High-earning Millennials also feel favorable to smartpay, with 50 percent using a smartphone and 41 percent using some type of wearable device to make purchases in store.

To learn more about 2018 holiday shopping season trends, visit smartercx.com/holiday.

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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