A Trade Magazine for New Age Retailers

The ABCs of Marketing to Generations X, Y & Z

We’d be hard-pressed to find customers who don’t have their smartphone within arms-reach at any given time, whether they’re part of the Baby Boomer or Gen Z generation. While marketing must embrace digital, how we market to each generation isn’t one size fits all and the reason is a reflection of how each generation grew up with technology. Knowing whom you’re trying to reach and their preferences with using digital devices can help craft a marketing plan that will resonate with each group and drive sales.

Baby Boomers

This older generation still appreciates customer service and loyalty. Unlike younger generations that don’t mind hopping around and have the need for constant entertainment among their shopping channels, Baby Boomers tend to prefer well-established shopping experiences, whether that’s in-store or online. Many in this generation were introduced to online shopping experiences through grocery shopping since theirs were among the first families in which both parents worked outside the home and, therefore, home time was a premium. Creating positive shopping experiences and rewarding loyalty will drive sales with this group that values long-term relationships.

Generation X

Influencers rarely influence Generation X and while they enjoy using their smartphones, they prefer to do most of their online shopping using a desktop or laptop rather than their phone. While their younger counterparts (and their children) don’t have a problem living in a cashless society and embrace cashier-less checkpoints, this group tends to prefer using their credit cards or other payment tools such as gift cards. Similar to their Baby Boomer parents, Generation X usually knows what they like and also appreciates good service. Retailers would do well to create in-shop and online experiences that feature products this generation loves, but also to not discount the importance that good service can have with this audience. While they don’t care for influencers in the modern sense, word-of-mouth among their peers is particularly influential.

Millennials (also known as Generation Y)

Millennials grew up with desktops and then tablets, so digital devices have been part of their daily lives. Interestingly, they’re the first generation to not really see privacy as a concern and are willing to share data, including their location, for example, if it means they’ll score a perk, such as a discount.

Price tends to be a factor for this group and it often serves as the greatest influence on their purchasing decision, even over things like quality or brand. With the ease of online shopping sites, comparison shopping is easier than ever, and they’ll take the time to do it if it means getting a better deal as a result.

This group started setting new trends in retail shopping. Like influencers not influencing Gen X, advertisements don’t work as well with Millennials since they just don’t believe them. Authenticity matters, so consider creating content that resonates with them. Using social media to engage and start a conversation can go a long way, rather than pushing Facebook ads. Involve them. Ask them about products and services, what they value and what they’d like to see. Show them that you care about their opinions. They follow in the footsteps of their parents who began demanding transparency. They want to know where things are made and how they’re made so to the extent that you can share that information, the better off you’ll be reaching this group. Also, they want to be more socially responsible, so if your business supports a cause, let them know.

Finally, since they’re comfortable sharing their data, go ahead and collect information you feel might strengthen their buying experience, whether it’s their birthday date to offer them a discount or keeping a database of their purchasing history so you can better customize or recommend products or services.

Generation Z

Gen Z has grown up “always on” since smartphones and other portable connected devices have been a staple in their lives. As a result, these digital natives are technologically-savvy and expect others, including businesses, to be as well. While Generation Xers may remember having to wake up early to watch cartoons on Saturday mornings because that was the only window they could watch them, Generation Z is accustomed to on-demand entertainment and videos. Therefore, those YouTube and online video ads greatly influence their engagement with brands.

They’re also masters at multitasking on their mobile devices, effortlessly moving from socializing with friends to playing games to listening to music. If your business is online, you only have seconds to capture their attention before they tap onto the next activity. This generation heavily relies on emojis and visuals, so consider crafting content that is interactive, fun, and engaging and incorporates a lot of visuals.


Megy Karydes
Author: Megy Karydes

Megy Karydes is a Chicago-based writer. Her new book, 50 Ways to More Calm, Less Stress: Scientifically Proven Ways to Relieve Anxiety and Boost Your Mental Health Using Your Five Senses, will be available January 2024. Sign up for her free monthly newsletter to receive more self care tips at

Website: https://www.megykarydes.com