The relationship between generations and brands reveals diverse preferences and values.
In a study by Forbes Advisor and OnePoll, this exploration digs into how each age group, from Gen Z to baby boomers, uniquely engages with brands.
The December 2023 survey covers 2,000 Americans and provides a nuanced view of consumer behavior and brand perception across the various age groups.
One in five respondents report that personalized communication positively impacts their relationship with a brand. Twenty-two percent of Gen Z, the highest of any generation, relies on recommendations from influencers to build a relationship with a brand.
All generations agree that the quality of products is most important when maintaining loyalty to a brand. Gen Z and millennials prefer personalized product recommendations more than other generations.
The ways consumers stumble upon new favorite brands reflect their generational identities. The results display a telling cross-section of discovery channels, with traditional in-store experiences still holding sway, particularly for the 60% of boomers who report preferring in-store shopping.
Meanwhile, Gen Z shows a marked preference for the digital sphere, with 51% finding new brands through TikTok, stressing the platform’s influence among the youngest consumers.
Search engines maintain a strong foothold across the board, suggesting that no matter the generation, the pursuit of something new often begins with a query. Yet, the personal touch remains influential, as recommendations from friends or family resonate significantly across generational lines, with nearly half of boomers valuing this personal connection.
This data not only guides brands on where to focus their marketing efforts, but also highlights the diverse avenues through which today’s consumers are forging connections with new products and companies.
Brand Reputation Is Most Important to All Generations
When consumers consider the bond with their chosen brands in 2024, the integrity of a brand’s reputation remains front and center. The data clearly illustrates this: 73% of boomers rate brand reputation as their top criterion, closely followed by Gen X at 68%.
Even the youngest shoppers, Gen Z, place brand reputation high on their list at 40%, showing that across ages, a solid reputation commands attention and trust.
Other factors such as free trials have universal appeal, with nearly half of millennials and Gen X seeing this as a key way they start a relationship with a brand.
Meanwhile, personalized communication is noted by over a quarter of respondents, signaling that tailored interactions hold significant weight in nurturing customer bonds.
The preferences highlighted here offer brands actionable insights into the values that resonate most across generational divides, guiding them to prioritize aspects that foster strong connections with their audience.
Gen Z Shops In-Store the Least of Any Generation
The preference for physical stores sees a generational divide in 2024. The data depicts only 28% of Gen Z choosing the tactile experience of in-store shopping, the least among all groups.
Boomers show a contrasting trend, with more than half preferring to walk the aisles.
Online retail giants, such as Amazon, have captured the attention of nearly a third of Gen-X shoppers, indicating a shift toward convenience and variety in one digital location, without the need to interact with anyone. Direct purchases from a company’s website or mobile app are equally distributed among Gen Z and millennials, suggesting that direct digital channels are maintaining their relevance.
Social media platforms have evolved into shopping venues, with Gen Z leading the engagement on these platforms, although they represent a smaller fraction of the overall shopping experience. The data paints a picture of a diversified marketplace where each generation gravitates towards different purchasing experiences.
What Influences Each Generation to Make a Purchase From a Brand in 2024?
As we dig into the factors swaying purchase decisions in 2024, it’s clear that motivations are as varied as the generations themselves. Gen Z’s purchasing decisions are notably swayed by a brand’s social equality stance. Millennials give their loyalty to brands demonstrating respect for their workforce.
Gen X shows a preference for brands with airtight data protection policies, while the vast majority of boomers similarly align with brands that safeguard their personal information. Each of these preferences marks a distinct set of expectations brands must meet to engage with their diverse audience segments.
Gen Z Prefers Brands That Advocate for Social Equality
The priorities of Gen Z consumers reflect a decisive shift towards values-driven brand relationships.
Eighty-two percent are more likely to purchase from brands that advocate for social equality. This preference surpasses even the importance of data protection and ethical employee treatment, proof of a generation that aligns spending with social responsibility.
Brands that align themselves with charitable organizations or demonstrate a commitment to environmental sustainability also resonate with Gen Z, but the push for equality takes precedence over anything else.
These factors collectively portray a generation whose purchase decisions are firmly rooted in societal impact and ethical considerations.
Produced in association with SWNS Research
(Additional reporting provided by Talker Research)
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