However, there are major differences between the generations, according to Salesforce's “2016 Connected Consumer Goods Report." While 63 percent of Baby Boomers said they would rather shop in physical stores than online if prices are the same, only 40 percent of Millennials agreed with them.
And there are some other major differences as well. While only 22 percent of Baby Boomers said they willing to share their personal information with consumer brands in exchange for more personalized experiences, 41 percent of Millennial shoppers said that they would. Likewise, Millennials were five time more likely to rely on recommendations and feedback from social media connections when making a purchasing decision than their Baby Boomer counterparts.
Although the Millennial generation may have a reputation for being less traditional and more prone to experimentation, the study indicated that Millennials are actually far more likely to be members of brand loyalty programs than older consumers, by a margin of 44 percent to 26 percent.
While that’s a big positive for companies, that loyalty also comes with its own challenges. The study found that Millennials are also much more likely to either complain about or praise brands in public than Baby Boomer consumers. They also have higher expectations of brands, preferring them to understand their personal preferences based on their purchase histories, according to the report.
Those responses seem to indicate that relationship building will be more important than ever for brands that want to keep consumers coming back, according to Salesforce.
“A significant number of traditional consumer goods companies believe that the moment of sale is the culmination of the relationship with the customer. That’s a short-sighted approach in today’s customer-first economy,” said Cindy Bolt, SVP, Salesforce Industries, Manufacturing and Consumer Goods, in a statement. “With everyone and everything connected, companies that harness technology to move beyond the sale, deliver a seamless experience and build stronger relationships will be the ones that not only succeed, but also foster lifelong customers as well.”
Despite the generation gaps, the study found that some trends seem to apply across age groups. All adults have become more reliant on online customer reviews when researching products, with 69 percent reading at least one review before making a purchase. Most consumers also said that they tend to find the best prices when shopping online, although a majority also said that they received better customer service when shopping in real-world stores.
Survey respondents consisted of 2,095 U.S. adults, ages 18 and older, almost all of whom had purchased consumer goods in the past 12 months. The poll was conducted online by Harris Poll from May 9-11.