New Epsilon Research Finds Gen Z is 2x More Likely to Use an Online-Only Store or Brand Website Than Any Other Generation; Uncovers Preferences and Behaviors Across Generations

Gen Z accelerates technology adoption and fuels multichannel purchase activity of older generations

DALLAS – February 7, 2019 – Epsilon®, a global leader in interaction management, today revealed findings from a new research report Age matters: A guide to cross-generation marketing. The findings, which looked at demographic, lifestyle, purchase and survey data from Epsilon’s suite of data solutions, uncovered spend behaviors and channel preferences that will help marketers glean insights about consumers across various generations and inspire more personalized, effective marketing strategies.

According to the research, baby boomers are the biggest annual spenders ($548.1B), followed by Gen X ($357B). Younger generations don’t exhibit the same spending power, however Gen Z and millennials do make a greater number of purchases in a 12-month period. Gen Z has the highest annual average of total transactions (358 transactions) compared to millennials (330 transactions), Gen X (306 transactions), baby boomers (269 transactions) and the silent generation (202 transactions).

With the younger generations, the study found a noticeable change in spending and brand interactions, preferring self-serve options and services that put consumers in control:

  • More Gen Z (22.5%) spend with industry disruptors like Uber compared to millennials (21.6%) and Gen X (17.1%).
  • Gen Z has the highest number of transactions in travel and over-index on self-serve options like Airbnb, Uber and Lyft.
  • Gen Z is 2x more likely to use an online-only store or brand website than any other generation.
  • Millennials spend more online than other generations, including at retailers such as Amazon, Gilt and Zappos.

“Marketers face a unique challenge trying to engage a diverse pool of consumers across generations at any given time. To stand out, brands must own every interaction with their customers and deliver more human experiences that are driven by data,” shared Stacey Hawes, President, Data at Epsilon. “Rather than thinking about generations in isolation, marketers need data and insights to understand how generations influence one another and to address consumers’ channel preferences and behaviors, including the makeup of their household, how much they spend and what they buy. Rich marketing data that is transparent, verifiable and trustworthy can equip marketers to know more about their customers and do more with the data they already have. These rich insights help to create custom audiences that activate more customers across more channels and achieve business goals.”

Additional findings uncover differences in channel preferences and behaviors across generations:

All generations exhibit multichannel shopping behaviors with important nuances.

  • 80% of consumers in each generation have recently shopped in a store.
  • Going to stores is preferable for almost every generation except millennials, who shop in-store and online equally.
  • About 75% of Gen Z and millennials use smartphones to shop online – more than any other generation.
  • Boomers with kids are more likely to shop online (42%) than boomers without (33%).

Gen Z and millennial tech adoption influences older generations in the household.

  • Voice assistant usage is increasing, yet only 3% of consumers use them to order online, mainly Gen Z, millennials and Gen X.
  • Gen X and boomers with kids are more likely to have at least one voice assistant and a vehicle that’s connected to the internet.
  • Boomers with kids are more likely than those without to watch movies or TV shows via streaming devices such as Netflix and Amazon.

Privacy awareness varies across generations.

  • Millennials, followed by Gen X and boomers, have taken the most steps to secure their privacy, including reviewing setting in apps, setting up two-step verification and restricting access.
  • More millennials, Gen X and boomers use ad-blocking features than Gen Z or silents.
  • 50% of older generations are concerned about privacy online, but 22% of Gen Z minors don’t cite any concerns.

Social media is used across generations but platform preferences vary.

  • Two-thirds of millennials use Facebook daily while 50%+ of Gen Z use Instagram and Snapchat daily.
  • Instagram usage is dominated by Gen Z (60%) and millennials (40%).
  • The youngest (Gen Z) and oldest generations (silents) are more likely to have given up on social media; 5-17% don’t use it at all.

To uncover more insights from the report Age matters: A guide to cross-generation marketing, click here.


The findings in this report came from two unique sources:

  • The 12-month spend of 85 million U.S. consumers was analyzed using Epsilon’s proprietary transactional data.
  • 3,000+ U.S. individuals were surveyed using Epsilon’s proprietary consumer panel, Shopper’s Voice®, on a variety of topics including shopping preferences, technology attitudes, media usage and privacy.

*For the purposes of this report, findings from the above methodology were extrapolated and applied to these definitions and in some instances the general consumer population.

**Data for Gen Z minors was obtained from a partner research panel that has opted-in consumers under 18 for research purposes.

About Epsilon-Conversant
Epsilon-Conversant is a leader in interaction management, empowering brands to transform ordinary customer experiences into meaningful, human experiences. Our connected suite of products and services combine leading-edge identity management, industrial strength data and technology expertise with big brand acumen gained over five decades working with the industry’s top brands. Our human-powered, data-led marketing delivers unmatched depth, breadth and scale to help brands turn meaningful human interactions into exceptional business outcomes. Epsilon-Conversant employs over 8,000 associates in 87 offices worldwide. For more information, visit Follow us on Twitter at @EpsilonMktg and @Conversant.

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