Generational Divides in Post-Pandemic Purchasing

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COVID-19 appears to be further highlighting the differences between younger and older consumers.

BCE has been monitoring consumer spending behavior since COVID-19 emerged, tracking consumers who are either “upgrading” or “downgrading” their purchases in light of effects from the pandemic. 

From analysis of this tracking data, younger generations of U.S. consumers appear to be migrating up and down the brand and product value chain at a much greater rate than older generations.  Below is the most recent data from BCE’s June tracking survey, which asked consumers if they bought/are planning to buy a more expensive or less expensive version of a planned product purchase as a result of COVID-19:

MILLENNIALS:  1-in-5 Millennials indicate they are UPGRADING into a more expensive version of the purchase they had been considering

GEN Z:  Nearly a third of all Gen Z consumers are DOWNGRADING into a less expensive purchase as a result of COVID-19

GEN X + BABY BOOMERS:  Whereas Gen Xers and Baby Boomers are LEAST LIKELY TO CHANGE their purchase behavior in either direction

These generational differences in post-pandemic purchasing behavior highlight the need for brands to better understand the ways consumer demographics may play a more prominent role influencing consumer spending.  Is your target audience defined by one of these demographic cohorts?  If so, what are you doing to better understand the opportunities – or threats – the pandemic may be introducing into your business?

The balance of 2020 may be a great time to introduce your brand, products, and services to a new set of consumers in the marketplace as traditional purchase behavior is upended by the pandemic.  Or it might be a time to circle the wagons around the customers you already have.  Do you know which is right for your brand?


Walter Shepard

Walter Shepard

Principal, Yarmouth

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