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The Generational Perspective: How Each Age Group Connects with Brands, Based on Life Experiences

Adult family of four with shopping bags on city streetNew Study Explores How Our Past Defines Our Future Buying Behaviors

Whether consumers shop online or in-store, or integrate both for a “brick and mobile” experience, life stage and lifestyle influence their shopping behaviors—and retailers must master these subtle generational differences in buying behaviors to be successful, according to a new study from the card services division of business credit program provider Alliance Data Systems Corporation. The report provides insights into how shoppers’ coming-of-age experiences define their future shopping behaviors.

The study, The Generational Perspective, is based on input from 2,400 respondents to better understand consumer buying behavior and expectations. These insights, cross-referenced with results from the firm’s Understanding Customer Loyalty study, confirmed that consumer buying habits track closely with life stage and each generation’s cultural identity.

“Alliance Data’s study showed that our expectations are first guided by generational identity and then by life’s different stages—career, family, empty-nesting and retirement,” said Shannon Andrick, vice president of marketing advancement at Alliance Data’s card services business, in a news release. “We note that ‘brick and mobile’ is growing but in-store is still king, and successful brands recognize that channel matters, but not as much as the overall brand experience does. And, they must keep their eyes on the next generation so they can accommodate their emerging shopping preferences, too.”

Among the key takeaways:

  • Current shopping behaviors are driven by generational experiences—Gen Xers and Millennials came of age during the information revolution and want instant gratification.
  • All consumers share baseline brand expectations, regardless of generation—non-negotiables include payment security, easy brand interactions, and transparent promotions.
  • Each generation connects with brands differently—Millennials define loyalty differently than the Silent Generation, and are willing to go out of their way for a brand they love.

The research suggests that brands should think generationally about the customer experience and take a targeted approach when it comes to engaging customers:

  • Millennials need to feel emotionally connected to the overall shopping experience both in-store and online. They like to explore what a brand offers, and want the brand to get it to them fast.
  • Generation X is balancing careers with family, so they value efficiency. They need to know up front why a retailer’s product is what they need.
  • Baby Boomers care more about product quality and value than cost alone. Retailers must tell them why a product is worth the price.
  • The Silent Generation has a “waste not, want not” philosophy about what they buy. Retailers must appeal to their sensible nature and focus on value first.

“We work to make brands smarter with a combination of innovative technology, rich data analysis and compelling consumer insights to reveal what customers want, when they want it and how they prefer to shop for it,” added Andrick. “This new report provides actionable insights about the generational differences that influence consumers, to help retailers better engage shoppers and drive sales.”

Download the complete report here.

Source: PR Newswire; edited by Richard Carufel

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