The digital conversation typically starts and ends with Millennials and Gen X. After all, they’re dialled heavily into technology. In fact, if you ask the (probably youngish) man on the street, the prediction would likely be that complex online shopping journeys and a responsive web presence is probably generated with these seemingly more tech-savvy generations in mind.
But as the world continues to plug in, the rest of society is adapting and research is consistently telling us to rethink our opinions on the baby boomer generations when it comes to tech.
In fact, spending on technology is one area where boomers are ahead of their younger counterparts. Yes, contrary to belief, the 46- to 64-year-old group now spends more money on technology than any other demographic (according to Forrester Research’s annual benchmark tech study) That includes monthly telecom fees, gadget and device spending, and overall online purchases.
A recent survey by guided selling expert, Conversity, which asked 1,000 consumers across a split of Baby Boomers, Millennials and Gen X about their shopping habits and found that it is in fact boomers who place the most faith in a retailer website 51 per cent compared to 46 per cent for Generation X and 35 per cent for millennials, which underlines how we shouldn’t underestimate the digital skills of the older generation.
“A good website is clearly in high demand for shoppers of all ages, so both retailers and brands should be looking to enhance their web presence and make sure it goes above and beyond just a simple source of information. An effective way to do this is by taking elements of what makes the in-store experience so positive – such as the availability of personalised advice – and applying this to the online experience wherever possible.
It’s also clear that the human touch is far from dead. Shoppers still see the value of interactingwith humans, whether it be an in-store advisor or a fellow customer”
Grandparent Marketing Group research notes that the boomer generation and millennials are strikingly similar demographic groups. Both number around 80 million and both grew up in some of the most prosperous eras (’50s/’60s and the ’90s). So it should be no surprise that boomers’ online behaviour is more similar to millennials, according to Pew research.
Further findings from Conversity also show a similarity in the disconnect between how the different demographics view a retailer’s website as opposed to the brand or manufacturer’s website. Shoppers are considerably less likely to go directly to the manufacturer’s site, with just 30 per cent of respondents citing it as important, which drops as low as 25 per cent for millennials. The views of fellow customers also remain key, with 40 per cent reading customer reviews to help them make that all-important decision.
A good website is clearly in high demand for shoppers of all ages, so both retailers and brands should be looking to enhance their web presence and make sure it goes above and beyond just a simple source of information. An effective way to do this is by taking elements of what makes the in-store experience so positive – such as the availability of personalised advice – and applying this to the online experience wherever possible.
“There is still a distinct appetite for shoppers to visit a store and seek help from a human sales advisor”
Conversity’s full research study aimed to examine in greater depth the mindset of the modern shopper and to shed further light on the need for retailers to improve the way they personalise the customer experience if they want to truly set themselves apart from their competitors. According to the survey, online is critical to get right for all three generations when it comes to researching complicated purchases, with the retailer’s website being cited as a key resource more frequently than any other. But the role of in-store is far from over.
As with so many things these days, technology – and intelligent guided selling tech such as Conversity’s RIPPL – has a hugely important role to play in improving how the customer experience is personalised, and in helping retailers and brands to build stronger relationships with customers – regardless which generation group they fall into.
Are you a baby boomer with more understanding of tech that a younger generation friend’? Do you think it’s time we stopped using generational stereotypes when it comes to the adoption of tech? We’d love to hear from you.