The unique Gen X buying habits are just the tip of the iceberg in our dive into cross-generational shopping trends.

From the tech-savvy Gen Z to the value-driven Silents, this guide uncovers the shopping secrets of each generation. Get ready to unlock the mysteries of consumer behavior across the ages.

You won’t believe what we’ve found!

Let’s explore the generation-based consumer behavior statistics and shopping trends:

Gen Z, Millennials, Gen X, Boomers and the Silents

In recent years, marketers have been focusing heavily on millennial buying habits, as they are establishing households and coming into more spending power.

For some time, marketers have been adjusting their marketing tactics to appeal to this age group, these consumers who are approximately between 23-39 years old.

And for good reason; in 2022, U.S. millennial households had the second-highest mean disposable incomes ($89,641), preceded only by Gen X ($108,615) (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2023).

Gen Z buying habits are also of interest to marketers, as an audience with their own spending power and unique purchasing habits. This group, typically consumers under the age of 23, are thrifty but commanded a remarkable $360 billion in buying power as of 2021 (Bloomberg, 2021).

Over the years, brands have developed different techniques to appeal to different generations. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, these were the mean annual household expenditures in 2022, by generation, in order of spend:

  • Generation X (born 1965-1980): $91,382
  • The Millennial Generation (born 1981-1996): $74,782
  • The Baby Boomer Generation (born 1946-1964): $66,362
  • The Silent Generation (born before 1946): $52,005
  • Generation Z (born 1997 and later): $47,975

generational buying habits

The categories on which the generations spent money naturally varied greatly, such as younger generations spending more on retail and older generations spending more on education.

Which channels do consumers prefer to shop on? In 2022, shopping channels have seen varied preferences among different generations in the United States (Statista, 2022).

  • In-store Shopping: Baby boomers are the most frequent in-store shoppers, with 81% preferring this method. Generation X follows at 73%, while millennials and Generation Z prefer in-store shopping 65% and 55% of the time, respectively.
  • Online Retailers: Approximately half of each generation prefers shopping through online retailers like Amazon, showcasing a consistent trend across all age demographics.
  • Company Websites: Generation Z and baby boomers slightly prefer company websites more than millennials and Generation X, with 37% and 36% usage, respectively.
  • Mobile Apps: Generation X leads mobile app usage at 24%, while baby boomers are the least likely to use this platform, at just 9%.
  • Social Media Shopping: Generation Z (23%) and millennials (21%) are more inclined to shop via social media platforms, significantly outpacing Generation X and baby boomers

Generational buying habits

With different spending habits, lifestyles, incomes and so forth, marketing tactics to reach consumers in different brackets will vary. Here’s a look at some top tactics for different age segments.

Gen Z

This generation does not trust advertising; your brand must be trustworthy and your communications authentic. They tend to gravitate towards testimonials by their peers and influencer marketing. They will identify with an influencer they like with similar values and interests, motivating them to make a purchase.

Gen Z buying habits tend to revolve around social media, but typical channels such as Facebook and Twitter will not make a big impact. Think of channels that showcase videos and images, such as TikTok or Instagram.

Research conducted by Klarna in Q2 2023 found that:

  • 52% of Gen Zers would opt for only shopping online if they had to choose between physical or online.
  • 56% of Gen Z purchased a product after seeing it on social media in the last month.
  • 52% of Gen Z have purchased a product directly from a social media platform.
  • 60% of Gen Z follow or buy from brand accounts on social media.
  • Instagram and TikTok are the most popular social platforms for Gen Z.
  • Gen Z prefers static images over video.


Millennial buying habits also tend to revolve around social media. They enjoy interacting with brands on social and using social platforms for customer service.

In Q2 2023:

  • 63% of millennials would stay online and never return to physical stores if they had to sacrifice one of the two.
  • 57% of millennials purchased a product after seeing it on social media in the last month.
  • 70% of millennials have purchased a product directly from a social media platform.
  • 65% of millennials follow or buy from brand accounts on social media.
  • Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube are the most popular platforms for millennials, with some local differences.
  • Millennials actually prefer static images over video.

(Klarna, 2023)

Gen X

This generation tends to be more loyal than other generations. They love freebies and coupons, so show them some love, and they will return the favor with long-term loyalty to your brand.

Furthermore, Facebook is their favorite social platform, so reach out with engaging posts and entertaining content.

The U.S. Generation X Consumer Trends Index outlines the following findings (Marigold, 2023a):

  • 64% of Gen X made a purchase from an email in the last year.
  • 65% of Gen X used their phone while in-store to research a potential purchase in the last year.
  • 90% of Gen X say that their favorite brand treats them like an individual.


Baby Boomers are making their own way in online shopping. Baby boomer buying habits mix steady brand loyalty with smart internet use and a careful eye on the economy.

A study by Marigold based on 2022 outlines (2023b):

  • 62% of Boomers made a purchase from an email in the last year.
  • 59% of Boomers said they are loyal to some brands and are willing to pay more to shop with them.
  • 86% of Boomers say that their favorite brands reward them for their loyalty.
  • 75% of Boomers say that they feel very pessimistic about the economic outlook.


The Silents’ purchasing power has been on the decline. Furthermore, Silents buying habits are cautious, often driven by necessity rather than impulse.

In the June Consumer Insights Pulse Survey (PWC, 2023), the following findings were outlined:

  • 58% of the Silent generation use search engines to research the items/products they intend to buy – 45% use retailer websites, and 41% use Amazon. Only 6% use social media.
  • Direct mail and written communications are the most effective ways to communicate. While more members of this generation are using social media and other digital channels, the majority prefer direct mail, newsletters, postcards, and flyers.
  • Keep it simple. Keep copy simple and straight to the point. Also, use images that will appeal to this age group’s values, such as family, patriotism, community, and respect.

It is important to keep in mind that each generation is comprised of unique personalities, lifestyles, and purchasing habits. These tactics can serve as a good guideline when developing messaging and also when used in conjunction with segmenting, analytics, and other data-driven marketing methods.

The online world has notably changed the shopping habits of each generation, molding their likes and wants.

The rise of online shopping, social media, and smartphones has opened many doors for brands to reach shoppers of all ages.

Caring for Earth and Fair Play

Younger shoppers like Gen Z and Millennials favor brands that show they care for the planet and act fairly. They look for honesty and realness, valuing brands that share their beliefs.

Mixing Online and In-store Shopping

The blend of online and offline shopping has brought about mixed shopping experiences. Shoppers, particularly young ones, like smooth switches between online and in-store shopping.

Making It Personal

Personal touches and choices are big for keeping shoppers loyal, especially the young ones. Tailored ads, personal product suggestions, and custom shopping experiences click well with Gen Z and Millennials.

New Payment Styles

Younger people are using digital wallets and touch-free payments more, while older groups might still like using cash and credit cards.

Focusing on Health

The rising focus on health has shifted shopping likes across ages. Organic and wellness products are becoming popular, with younger folks wanting healthier options.

Wrapping Up

Generational shopping trends are shifting with online advancements.

While younger generations lean towards ethical shopping and online experiences, older ones value in-store visits and traditional payment methods.

Health-conscious and personalized shopping are on the rise, reflecting varying preferences across age groups.

Understanding the gen x buying habits and other generational trends helps brands tailor their marketing strategies, ensuring they resonate with diverse consumers and stay ahead in the evolving shopping landscape.


U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2023

Bloomberg, 2021

Statista, 2022

Klarna, 2023

Marigold, 2023a

Marigold, 2023b

PWC, 2023