How has the pandemic changed the way generations of the digital age shop?
Before the COVID-19 pandemic, it is fair to say that Generation Z and millennials were more comfortable using technology than their elders. This is largely because these two generations were brought up in parallel with the rise of the digital age, so shopping online and navigating social media comes more naturally.
However, since the pandemic began in March 2020, older generations have had to adapt and move with the times, creating a new demographic for businesses to engage with. Businesses that utilise e-commerce platforms will harvest this new data in order to develop a personalised experience for the new generations interacting with their companies.
How the generational patterns have changed and how businesses have adapted pre and post-pandemic
Pre – Born between 1925-42, The Silent Generation were the first generational group to be named. The name comes from an article that alludes to the children of this generation being seen and not heard during World War Two. This generation are more interested in direct communication and making real human connections, so the digital age seemed a world away.
Post – The Silent Generation was encouraged to stay at home to stay safe. With the freedom of in-person shopping being stolen from them, there was little option but to turn to e-commerce platforms to buy the necessities. Since the risk levels have remained high for this generation, many people have chosen to remain loyal to digital shopping in favour of bricks and mortar shops. This change in demographic has exaggerated the need for businesses utilising e-commerce platforms to adapt and target this new generation so they can satisfy all their customers.
Baby Boomers and Generation X
Pre – Baby Boomers were born between 1946 and 1964 whilst Gen X were born between 1965 and 1980. Due to inflation over their lifetime, Baby Boomers have now become the wealthiest generation with the most disposable income. This disposable income allowed the Baby Boomers to have vibrant social lives, make the most of their retirement programmes and spend their money as they pleased. All this whilst Gen X were brought up straddling the digital and non-digital world.
Post – Unlike the Silent Generation, Baby Boomers and Gen X had more of an understanding of the digital world, albeit a more simplified one, with their devices of choice being centred around computers rather than smart devices. With their disposable income to hand, Baby Boomers were able to shop online without the income reduction of furlough, whereas Gen X were hit harder in this area. Due to their preference for shopping on a computer, email marketing strategies are one of the most effective strategies that businesses can utilise for these generations.
Millennials and Generation Z
Pre and Post – Born between 1980 and present day, growing up in the digital generation means Millennials and Gen Z are experts when it comes to everything online, which is exactly why traditional and direct marketing strategies are ineffective with the majority of these generations. The only real difference the pandemic made to these generations was the time they spent on their devices, so e-commerce marketing had to get smarter to infiltrate this generation. The majority of this was done on social media: using omni-channel strategies, companies could target Millennials and Gen Z on social media and seamlessly draw them to other sites subtly, increasing traffic for their business.