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Different Generations Have Different Customer Journeys

Source: Pixabay

What generation do you belong to?

Whether you are on the side of older adults, such as Baby Boomers or Generation X, or you are in your early youth taking the first steps to adult life, as is the case with Millennials and Generation Z, your way of consuming products are directly tied to the events and socio-cultural implications that have happened in your life cycle.

This purchase process is called the customer journey, which is the map of steps you complete to make your purchase online or in physical stores.

So how do each generation buy? What are their consumption habits? Their characteristics?

Grab your notebook, marketer friend, because today you will know what the customer journey of each of the generations is like.

Baby Boomers (1946-1964)

Baby boomers are the generation born in a time where wars were a thing of the recent past. Their father, the post-war or silent generation, grew in a time where life was tough due to many political problems, and they had to make a great effort to succeed. Now, with this generation, they all wanted to rebuild the society from their ashes. Since the war has WW2 has ended, they have more chances to build their life professionally.

Some of their characteristics are:

  • Hard workers: This was the generation that had to rebuild society after the struggles of war. Since they have the opportunity to live in a less conflicted world, they were willing to work even harder to go beyond the previous generations.
  • Goal-centric: They tend to focus on long and short-term goals.
  • Resourceful: Postwar generation grew in poverty. With that, baby boomers had to do their best with the little resources they have.
  • Competitive: With so many opportunities ahead, these generations were used to compete and be the person that could get their families out of poverty.
  • Focused: In the '40s and '60s, distractions were not in every corner. There were only the radio, movies and the tv. With fewer distractions in their environment, these people could focus more on their duties and specific goals.

Source: YouTube.

This generation is one of the largest consumers, with 70 million people falling in this category, representing 40% of the market share.

One important topic to talk about baby boomers is their relationship with technology. Depending on your age, you could be a millennial or a generation x who teaches their parents how to use their cellphones and computers. Since they didn't grow with all this technology, they don't have the instinct to know how all this works at first use. Because of this, their online experience can be tricky. This doesn't mean that every boomer can't handle a computer. There are several cases where they are experts in today´s technology and even social media.

Now, one thing that baby boomers care about is their privacy, and if you have read just a little bit of any "terms and conditions" of any cell phone or social media platform, you have seen that real privacy is not among their policies. They are not spying on us, but they study all of our interactions to make the famous algorithm work.

For baby boomers is pretty uncomfortable to know that Mark Zuckerberg and Facebook know them even better than themselves, so it can be tricky for some late adults to share all their information with these companies.

Now, do you know what the main reason why Baby Boomers are the most important market is? One word: MONEY.

Because they are the ones who have been working the longest, the adults of this generation already own several businesses and what they are looking for is to enjoy their savings. For this reason, businesses such as real estate, insurance, and travel agencies can target this demographic, knowing that they will have the stable resources to pay for their services.

In the customer journey of this generation, it is important to remember that they are not lovers of technology, they can understand it, but they do not handle it with nature. Therefore, making your customer journey should be as simple as possible. If you confuse them a lot with multiple options, small letters and too many steps, they will lose their attention in your service. So, you have to simplify any online marketing as much as possible.

Even for baby boomers, face-to-face care is much easier. That is, they will prefer a store or physical agency more than the online option. They are loyal to businesses that have excellent customer service, and they are willing to invest in a loyal program if your business does.

Relationship marketing is key for this demographic.

Finally, a key recommendation is that your ads or ads are as direct as possible and that they use terminologies that everyone understands. Don't put popular slangs or emojis. That's more effective with younger audiences, but we'll get to that point.

Source: YouTube.

Generation X (1965-1980)

X generation is right in between Baby Boomers and millennials. Like baby boomers, they weren't born with advanced technology first, but some are more used to dealing with technology due to their closeness with millennials. This group represents 30% of the buying force.

Some of their characteristics are:

  • Financially stable: Due to their age, X Geners are close to retirement or have been working for a while. Because of this, they are a potential customer for expensive services.
  • Care about security: This generation is having their first children's or they already graduated, because of this they have strong family values, and for them, it is crucially important to take care of their loved ones. Companies that give strong security to their clients are more likely to engage with this type of customer.
  • They experienced many big moments: From the landing to the moon to the cold war, people from generation x have seen many big moments in history. Because of this, they have seen many ads and propaganda, so they tend to like an honest advertisement.
  • They look for business on the internet: This audience is still using newspaper, radio and tv for getting advertising, and if they find something they like, they will go directly to the internet. 
  • They prefer physical stores: Although they know how to handle a smartphone or a laptop, this audience still prefers relationship marketing and speaking with a real person instead of achatbot or any other AI.

Source: YouTube.

Generation X is the older brother of generations, and their attitudes vary between that of the older public (Baby Boomers) and a little more towards contemporary youth (Millennials).

Among their classic consumer characteristics is the fact that they prefer personal interactions with brands or services.

Gen X people are still loyal customers of brands that treat them well, so loyal programs are excellent strategies.

One of the most important data about this generation is that they are the ones who use Facebook the most. Therefore, your customer journey should start with ads on this social platform that take them directly to your page to pay for your products or services.

Email marketing is also the perfect tool for your customers to start their journey as regular customers of your brand. The important thing is that your messages are engaging and go straight to the point.

Although we have said that this generation has purchasing power, they also have multiple debts on top of them, such as paying for their children's college or university. Therefore, discount coupons are incredible to hook with.

Despite talking mostly about digital marketing, it is important not to neglect other media such as television, newspapers and radio for this audience, as they are still used to consuming these media.

To improve the customer journey, you could opt for these Top CRM tools to automate customer engagement.

Source: YouTube.

Millennials (1981-1996)

Millennials are one of the most talked-about generations today. Some have classified them as the Crystal generation, while others argue that this generation seeks to end prejudices of previous generations, such as racism and discrimination against the LGBTIQ community. This is the new workforce entering the offices.

One of the most important characteristics is that this generation experienced first-hand the technological revolution of the internet and social networks; therefore, they are the most understood users.

Some of their characteristics are:

  • They are all about saving: Millennials are the young people who are starting to work, practically digital marketing agencies are full of them. Since they start their useful period as workers, they must worry more about saving their earnings, since rising inflation worldwide may disable their ability to become independent or buy a home.
  • Natural to Technology: They were the first to receive the technology first hand. In this way, they have developed the instinct to understand technology quickly. In 3 decades, we have evolved from archaic as the first Microsoft computers to modern smartphones.
  • Care about mental health and environment: Topics such as anxiety and depression are a daily topic in almost all social networks. Talking about topics that were considered taboo is something important for this generation. In the same way, global warming is significant for this generation that tries to correct past mistakes. We have the example of Greta Tunberg as an ambassador for the care of the environment.
  • Prefer experiences over physical products: Because this generation is in its early or late youth, they are more interested in having a good time and sharing moments with their friends or family. Millennials are not financially stable, so marrying or having children may not be in the next plans. Instead, they want to take advantage of their youth with what their salaries can afford.

Source: YouTube.

Millennials are the larger consumer audience compared to the previous ones. According to an article of Caixa Bank Research, they represent 24% of the world´s population. Although they are higher in numbers, statistics from Eurostat data conclude that by 2017, millennials only represent 20% of the population in Europe, being 102 million citizens approximately, while Baby Boomers represent 23.4%.

Millennials are the number one customers of online businesses. Therefore you must offer them adequate customer service; otherwise, you can get bad reviews online.

Millennials look for almost 100 percent of their products online, whether through Amazon or any other E-Commerce. For this reason, your brand must have multiple advertising channels, that is, use all possible social networks from YouTube to Facebook.

Customer service must be fast and efficient. Normally the community managers are in charge of answering any questions made on social networks. If your response is not quick, your customers will probably not start the customer journey.

Like previous generations, your ads should be easy to understand and have a customer map that flows without so many intermediate steps, efficiency first. Now, due to their youth and free way of living, you can afford to be more jovial and use "cool" expressions to interact with them.

Millennials can have pretty high customer loyalty, but if your service ever disappoints them, switching to another brand will be as easy as searching for your competition online.

If your service pleases them, they will not hesitate to recommend you, just as influencers do on social networks.

Source: YouTube.

Generation Z(1997-2012)

Generation Z is the youngest audience around, and their characteristics are pretty similar to the millennials. This person grew up with a phone or a tablet in their hands. Therefore, they are also natural to technology. It could be the biggest audience in TikTok since it is a social media platform younger audiences use more.

Some of their characteristics are:

  • They Support Social Causes: Since millennials, and even before, since the hippies - a movement started by the Baby Boomers - social causes have been an important topic for the new generations. With social media platforms, young people have a voice on big media to share their thoughts and protest about injustice. In some cases, it has brought great movements like "Me too," which tries to give a voice to people that have been a victim of sexual abuse.
  • Communicative: They try to dialogue their differences to make get to a mutual accordance point.
  • Self Learners: With tools like YouTube videos or blogs, people from this generation have put aside classical education to start learning everything they want by just looking on Google.

Despite their great presence in the market, these sectors do not have the economic power to pay for all their tastes, so most of them are parents who pay for their tastes or entertainment.

Some of these young people may be starting work, but they do not have a secure income to pay for a home or a car like millennials.

Their customer journey is similar to that of millennials; that is, digital throughout its journey.

Due to their social conscience, they tend to worry about the environmental policies of your products or if they could have been tested on animals.

They are voracious consumers who need to be constantly stimulated with new merchandise. It's like the TikTok example, where if a 15-second video doesn't provide the fun or information they need, they'll move on to the next video. Therefore, an omnichannel is important in your customer journey, where each platform leads directly to the purchase of the service without many steps.

Source: YouTube.


Each generation has its characteristics according to the historical events that happen around them. However, even if we say that we are different from each other, we share similarities in valuing good customer service and quality products.

As the lion king movie says, it is an endless cycle in which each new generation will take the social baton and apply the changes that seem necessary, meanwhile the marketing will continue to adapt for each target audience.

Know which generation you are selling to, and you can adapt your customer journey to your convenience.

You, what generation are you? Share your experiences in the comments.

To all generations, we are waiting for you in the next article!

Also, programmatic advertising could make your campaigns more efficient.

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