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Millennials vs Baby Boomers: Surveying Customers by Generation

Millennials vs Baby Boomers: Surveying Customers by Generation

In the recent Connected Customer report, we surveyed Millennials, Baby Boomers, Gen Z, & Gen X! Learn the biggest differences & similarities.

Baby Boomers vs Millennials — if you include both generations in your consumer base, should you offer them different customer experiences?

Both segments of your customer base have grown up in very different worlds. Millennials and Baby Boomers have different ideologies and ways of viewing the world around them.

Below, we’ve pulled key insights from the State of the Connected Customer (4th Edition) report to determine if different generations have opposing views on the ideal customer experience.

Customer service that isn’t ‘one size fits all’

It’s very difficult for businesses to tailor marketing and customer service efforts to each customer individually. However, you can target specific customer interests or commonalities, like their generation.

We surveyed more than 15,000 B2B and B2C customers for the State of the Connected Customer report. One of our goals was to discover each generation’s needs and expectations.

Before we dive into the results, let’s quickly define the survey demographics and age range of each generation:

Baby Boomers (born 1946-1965)………………31%

Gen Xers (born 1965–1980)…………………….. 28%

Millennials (born 1981–1996)………………….. 32%

Gen Zers (born after 1996)……………………….. 9%

Millennials vs Baby Boomers: The results are in

Digital innovation has never been more important than now, in a world where crises have accelerated the need for digital-driven service. Businesses are going through an intense period of digital transformation, driven by their customer’s expectations as well as the practical issues caused by things like the COVID-19 pandemic.

The fact that we’re not seeing much difference in expectations of digital innovation between generations highlights just how important it is.

Actions customers say companies should take in response to COVID-19:

  • Offer new ways to get existing products/services (e.g., digital versions of traditionally in-person experiences)

    • Baby Boomers: 64%
    • Gen Xers: 70%
    • Millennials: 71%
    • Gen Zers: 77%
  • Expand customer engagement methods

    • Baby Boomers: 45%
    • Gen Xers: 55%
    • Millennials: 61%
    • Gen Zers: 61%
  • Offer new types of products and services

    • Baby Boomers: 55%
    • Gen Xers: 57%
    • Millennials: 53%
    • Gen Zers: 46%

The importance of trust according to each generation

We asked the customers surveyed questions about trust and the results were intriguing.

The order of scepticism generally goes to Baby Boomers, Gen Xers, then Millennials. However, in two of the questions (whether they trust companies to tell the truth and whether they trust companies to act in society’s best interests), it’s the youngest generation — Gen Z — that is among the most doubtful.

Our survey reveals that younger generations are more likely to question the trustworthiness of a company.

Customers who agree with the following statements:

  • I don’t trust companies to tell the truth

    • Baby Boomers: 44%
    • Gen Xers: 41%
    • Millennials: 39%
    • Gen Zers: 50%
  • I don’t trust companies to act with society’s best interest in mind

    • Baby Boomers: 45%
    • Gen Xers: 40%
    • Millennials: 37%
    • Gen Zers: 44%
  • I don’t trust companies to act with customer’s best interests in mind.

    • Baby Boomers: 42%
    • Gen Xers: 36%
    • Millennials: 31%
    • Gen Zers: 35%

How do Baby Boomers and Millennials feel about AI?

Artificial intelligence (AI) is something most people are used to in some form or another. Our results show that only 52% of Baby Boomers are open to the use of AI, compared to 66% of Millennials.

The younger generations are unphased by the use of AI in their daily lives. So naturally, they are more open and accepting of companies using it. The older generations, not so much. That’s why it’s so important to encourage Baby Boomers to feel more comfortable with the new technology.

In terms of whether they trust businesses to use the technology ethically, fewer than half (48%) of customers say they do. And 54% are concerned about its potential bias.

Corporate values and accountability

There’s a marked difference between Baby Boomers and other generations when you look at what influences their decision to buy.

Consumers who say the following include their decision to buy from a company:

  • Treatment of employees during this year’s crises

    • Baby Boomers: 79%
    • Gen Xers: 83%
    • Millennials: 85%
    • Gen Zers: 85%
  • Treatment of customers during this year’s crises

    • Baby Boomers: 83%
    • Gen Xers: 86%
    • Millennials: 87%
    • Gen Zers: 82%
  • Environmental practices

    • Baby Boomers: 75%
    • Gen Xers: 80%
    • Millennials: 80%
    • Gen Zers: 81%

The report goes on to list three additional influencing factors. And each time, Baby Boomers were the least influenced generation when deciding to buy from a company. Younger generations definitely hold companies more accountable.

You can find out more about what drives and motivates your customers by downloading the State of the Connected Customer (4th Edition).

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