Ecommerce Marketers: Keep Boomers, Gen Z Close But Millennials Closer

Here we are, we made it to fall 2020, with Halloween, Thanksgiving and the December holidays the next stops for retailers. If you’re a digital marketer, you’ve hopefully had a busy summer. Now, as the weather begins to turn, the question you need to ask yourself is, ‘‘How can I retool and refine my strategy as we approach the year end?” The race is on. Ladies and gentlemen, start your engines!

You might not need this, but here’s a quick refresher as to the (most-cited) definitions of each generation of consumers:

  • Baby Boomers: born between 1944 and 1964
  • Gen X: born between 1965 and 1980
  • Millennials: born between 1981 and 1996
  • Gen Z: born between 1997 and 2006

Now, if you’re doing digital marketing right, you take a lot of data into consideration, including gender, home address, etc. But looking toward Q4 you might want to focus your attention on the above classifications. Think Gen Z is your best market, with all that screen time and their parents’ credit card info already loaded into their phones? How about well-to-do boomers, many of them retired, at risk for COVID-19, sitting at home on a desktop?

While you’d be right about the youngest and oldest cohorts, it turns out millennials are the most committed generation when it comes to ecommerce. Way back in March 2019, just about a year before the pandemic began, CouponFollow conducted a survey of millennials’ shopping habits. It found they were doing 60% of their shopping online, with 36% of these purchases made from a mobile device. Again, this was 18 months ago! Two and a half years ago, Factory360 predicted spending by millennials would reach $1 trillion in 2020.

I was just reading a recent Adweek article by Myles Kleeger of Braze, a customer engagement platform, who said boomers want to return to stores more than any other generation. Gen Z, interestingly enough, is looking forward to hitting the bricks-and-mortar largely to hang out with friends (these kids are your modern-day mall rats). It’s millennials who remain most devoted to ecommerce, Kleeger found, with 44% saying they plan to continue online shopping even after (or if) restrictions and health concerns are over, and 51% said they would be making almost all or most holiday purchases at small local businesses.

We’ve all been talking about “the new normal,” in one context or another, since the pandemic began, but it’s been hard to put a finger on what that is. For millennials at least, it seems to be ecommerce. The last generation born during the 20th century is a decidedly 21st-century cohort. The best places to find them? Facebook and Instagram.

My recommendation is to keep doing what you’re doing, but pay just a bit of extra attention to your Facebook and Instagram accounts. Here’s a few rules to take you, and your Millennial customers, into the holidays: 

  • Amp up your Instagram posts by at least 50%
  • Make sure everything you post on Instagram lands on your Facebook page
  • Be extra diligent about responding to comments and queries via both channels. Nothing builds customer loyalty faster than a quick, personal response and rapid issue resolution

In this post-COVID-19 race, you need to dig deep and fill your entrepreneurial tank with all the gas you’ve got. Pay attention to demographic trends and predilections, and stay abreast of the best channels to reach your customers. This year is a bit like NASCAR, with all of us changing gears at impossible speeds. Just keep going. There’s a checkered flag ahead.

Scott Hirsch is founder and CEO of Media Direct