Older Consumers Conduct Significant Portions of Daily Life Online, Just Like Younger Ones, Finds New Survey by Boston Digital

Age Group Behaviors are More Similar Than Not in Today’s “Impulse Generation” – Even Before COVID 19

Boston Digital, a leading digital marketing agency, announced results of a new survey, “How Consumer Age Impacts Mobile Behavior.” Conducted prior to the US-wide surge of COVID 19, it found that online habits of older consumers are strikingly similar to younger generations: 60% of Generation Z and 59% of Boomers making online purchases often or very often; social media and shopping are everyone’s top choices for mobile content; and the generations with the most in common are Generation X and Millennials. These and other findings indicate marketers should view all consumers through the lens of the “Impulse Generation” and focus on commonalities rather than differences.

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“Businesses can’t afford to base their marketing strategies on outdated ideas of how age groups behave. In today’s smartphone-obsessed world, we’re no longer completely siloed generations (Gen Z, Millennials, Gen X, Boomers). We’re one Impulse Generation, where everyone is driven by fast decision-making, constant connectedness, high expectations, and short attention spans. Companies need to bake this reality into their marketing strategies,” said Peter Prodromou, president of Boston Digital.

He added, “With COVID 19, everyone who is practicing social distancing and self-isolation is doing even more online. As a result, we expect the inherent similarities in the Impulse Generation to be more pronounced during this time. After life has returned to more ‘normal’ conditions and people again congregate in stores, restaurants, entertainment and sporting events, we will continue to see the majority of consumers pursuing online purchasing, informational, and social connectedness experiences like Zoom, across age groups.”

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  • Online Purchasing Is Not Only for the Young

Most consumers, from Gen Z to Boomers, do a significant amount of online purchasing.

    • 60% of Generation Z and 59% Boomers “purchase online often or very often.”
    • Generation X is a bit ahead at 67%.
    • Millennials, who have more disposable income than Gen Z, led at 74%.
  • Millennials and Generation X Have the Most in Common
    • 56% of Millennials and 50% Generation X said they make purchases on their mobile devices often or all the time.
    • For both generations the most commonly viewed types of content were social media, shopping and news, in that order.
    • They usually purchase items including groceries and technology at similar rates:  29% of Millennials and 30% of Generation X usually purchase groceries online, and 65% of Millennials and 57% of Generation X usually purchase technology online.
  • Social Media and Shopping Are Top Choices for Mobile Content

When asked what content they view most on their mobile device, social media and shopping were in the top three for all generations.

    • The top three also included news for consumers ages 23-74.
    • The top three order was different among age groups, with news being #1 for Boomers and #3 for Millennials and Gen X .
    • Gen Z said video was their third-most often viewed type of content.
  • There are More Boomers on Instagram, YouTube, and Facebook Than You Think

When building a social media strategy, don’t overlook the growing number of Boomers on Instagram, Facebook and YouTube

    • Facebook: Total consumers 72%; Gen Z (49%), Millennials (76%), Gen X (82%), Boomers (69%). Even 55% of the Silent Generation is on Facebook.
    • Instagram: Total is 51%; Gen Z (76%), Millennials (65%), Gen X (52%), Boomers (31%)
    • Millennials and Gen Z use Snapchat, Reddit, and TikTok significantly more than the older generations. (See ebook for breakdowns.)

Boston Digital’s Impulse Generation survey was conducted with more than 500 consumers across age groups. The delineations used are based on the Pew Research Center guidelines:

  • Generation Z: Under 22
  • Millennials: 23-38
  • Generation X: 39-54
  • Boomers: 55-73
  • Silent Generation: 74-91

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