Malls Bank on Experiences for a Successful Holiday Season

The holiday shopping season is in full swing! Where are consumers expecting to spend most of their shopping time? Not at a mall, according to the Synchrony Financial “2017 Pre-Holiday Study.”

The holiday shopping season is in full swing! Where are consumers expecting to spend most of their shopping time? Not at a mall, according to the Synchrony Financial “2017 Pre-Holiday Study.” The study shows that about 50 percent of consumers expect to do their holiday spending in a store, but out of that, only 38 percent of in-store shoppers plan to do that shopping in a mall.

Synchrony Holiday Shopper Insights In-Store PurchasesWhere will shoppers go instead of the mall? The majority of consumers (66 percent) say they will spend some time going to mass merchandiser retailers (e.g., Walmart, Target, etc.) and half of store shoppers say they will visit a stand-alone specialty apparel store.

The benefits of going into these stores are the one-stop shopping element. Mass merchandisers have a wide variety of items available at a relatively low price. So, you can buy a sweater for grandma and a toy for little Johnny without a lot of walking around. Stand-alone specialty apparel stores have the benefit of available parking and more personalized service.

Synchrony Holiday Shopper Insights Via GenerationsIf you do venture into the mall, the people you are most likely to see are Gen Z and Millennials. Those aged 18- to 25-years old are the ones who intend to spend the most time at the mall this year, with over 40 percent of them saying they will shop at a mall. The Gen X and Baby Boomer populations (aged 36 to 65) are the ones who say they will stay away. Only 33 percent of this population say they will be mall shopping.

Retailers have been putting an increased focus on strategies to get consumers to walk through their doors. Many retailers now give shoppers the ability to order online and pick-up in-store. This not only saves time for the consumer, but also gives the store the opportunity to up-sell or cross sell other items. Other retailers have been putting interactive experiences and restaurants in their stores to increase the “fun” factor. The last time I walked into a Williams Sonoma store, they were cooking an entire turkey dinner!

The future of the mall depends on maximizing these experiences. There are malls that have added restaurants, art installations and even amusement parks as part of the effort to draw more foot traffic. Many retail experts feel that the survival of the mall lies on its ability to attract shoppers with innovative services and entertainment, in addition to stores and products.

* Note: The views expressed in this blog are those of the blogger and not necessarily of Synchrony Financial. All references to consumers and population refer to the survey respondents from the Synchrony Financial 2017 Pre-Holiday Study unless otherwise noted.

Millennial Habits on Black Friday 2015 vs. 2017

New research from Influenster shows how Millennial Black Friday and Cyber Monday shopping habits have changed. And while it’s certainly not great news for in-store retail, it’s not as big a shift as you might expect.

No shopping holiday is more old-school than the retail war zone that is Black Friday. I can remember people camping out the night before for Black Friday deals all the way back to when I was a kid — South Park even did an episode on it! Surely, if there’s one shopping experience tech-savvy, retail-resistant Millennials are going to opt-out of over time, it’s Black Friday, right?

New research from Influenster shows how Millennial Black Friday and Cyber Monday shopping habits have changed. And while it’s certainly not great news for in-store retail, it’s not as big a shift as you might expect.

Black Friday for Millennials: 2015 vs. 2017

The research, “Influenster Black Friday and Cyber Monday Millennial Shopping Survey 2015 vs. 2017,” shows a few interesting trends comparing this year’s results to results from two years ago.

For starters, slightly fewer millennials intend to participate in he combined shopping holiday of Black Friday and Cyber Monday: 89 percent vs. 93 percent in 2015.

Out of them, more still intend to shop on Black Friday than Cyber Monday, but the gap is narrowing:

Do you shop more on Black Friday
or Cyber Monday?
2015 2017
More on Black Friday 35% 32%
More on Cyber Monday 26% 30%
Equal on both days 39% 38%

However, far fewer millennials plan to shop in-store on Black Friday: 35 percent in 2017 vs. 61 percent in 2015. And 92 percent of all respondents plan to look for deals online before heading to the stores.

The survey respondents said their overall shopping plans look like this:

How do you plan on shopping this Black Friday and/or Cyber Monday? 2015 2017
Online for Black Friday and/or Cyber Monday 67% 61%
Browsing in stores, before buying online for Black Friday and/or Cyber Monday 44% 29%
In stores for Black Friday 61% 35%
Research online, before buying in stores on Black Friday 48% 40%

On the bright side for retailers, fewer millennials plan on “showrooming,” i.e. shopping on the phone for better deals while looking at the product in-store: 29 percent in 2017 vs. 44 percent in 2015. After all, why go to a store on Black Friday only to find the store you should’ve gone to online? By then, it’s probably already too late to get that doorbuster deal.

When it comes to what wins the sale, online reviews still appear to be the most powerful influencer (although, here it’s worth noting that Influenster is a company that powers online reviews). However, word of mouth has slipped slightly compared to social media:

What factors would most influence your purchase decision this Black Friday/Cyber Monday? 2015 2017
Word of mouth 53% 47%
Online reviews 72% 70%
Social media 58% 61%
Brand websites 47% 39%
News websites 12% 6%
Television 28% 15%
Newspaper 23% 9%
Magazines 24% 10%
Mail catalogues 24% 14%

Computer vs. Mobile, Website vs. App

Out of those who will shop online, there are some interesting changes in where and how. More plan to shop via mobile:

If you plan on online shopping on Black Friday and/or Cyber Mondays how would you do so? 2015 2017
On my desktop/laptop 83% 70%
On my mobile device/tablet 58% 62%

But when it comes to how they’ll prefer to order on mobile, all of the options came in lower than 2015.

If you plan on shopping on your mobile device/tablet, how would you make your purchases? 2015 2017
Through websites 95% 90%
Through apps 55% 50%
Through “buy” buttons on social media 10% 7%

It’s really time we improved that mobile ordering experience!

Holiday Favorites

And to wrap this up, when it comes to where millennials go and the brands they buy, some of the favorites appear to be shifting. Congrats to Target for holding off Amazon and Walmart to be the favorite Black Friday retailer.

Which are your favorite retailers to shop at on Black Friday and/or Cyber Monday? 2015 2017
Target 85% 71%
Amazon 70% 66%
Walmart 66% 54%
Best Buy 49% 29%
Kohl’s 47% 27%
Macy’s 41% 26%
TJ Maxx 33% 26%
JCPenney 35% 21%
Toys ‘R’ Us 36% 20%
Bed Bath and Beyond 39% 20%
Nordstrom 25% 19%
Marshalls 27% 18%
eBay 21% 10%
Dick’s Sporting Goods 17% 9%
Kmart 20% 8%
Sears 18% 7%
Home Depot 13% 7%
Neiman Marcus 8% 5%
Lord & Taylor 6% 3%

In the end, how Millennials shop may be changing, but the raw volume of commerce they’ll participate in this holiday is still staggering.

Xennials: How They’re Different for Marketers

Generational differences in attitudes can be helpful to marketers, but the line between generations can’t be defined by a single point in time. It’s fuzzy. Does the recent buzz about the micro-generation born between 1977 and 1983, the Xennials, create opportunities for marketers to target this demographic?

Xennials
“Xennials,” Creative Commons license. | Credit: Flickr by Ron Mader

Generational differences in attitudes can be helpful to marketers, but the line between generations can’t be defined by a single point in time. It’s fuzzy. Does the recent buzz about the micro-generation born between 1977 and 1983, the Xennials, create opportunities for marketers to target this demographic? First coined by Sarah Stankorb in an article for Good magazine in 2014, the term Xennials refers to those who straddle the later years of Gen X (1977 to 1980) and the early years of the Millennials (1981 to 1983).

Let’s start with the size of this group. There are roughly 25 million Xennials, some 8 percent of the U.S. population, less than half the size of all of the named generational segments — except the oldest. Embracing this named generation would also reduce the populations in the segments it cannibalizes. Removing the number of births from 1977 to 1980 reduces the Gen X cohort from 55 million down to about 42 million, and removing the births from 1981 to 1983 reduces the Millennial number to about 55 million. Note that these numbers are based on births only and don’t account for deaths and immigration.

There are actually more Millennials than Boomers now — 75.4 million vs 74.9 million. And interestingly, embracing this new micro-generation would negate the Millennials claim on the largest generation — at least for the time being.

Xennials chart
Credit: PewResearch.org by Pew Research Center/U.S. Department of Health

The vanguard of a new generation and the rear guard of the old will always create some heterogeneous space between the arbitrarily drawn generational lines. The rise of technology as the defining moment between Gen X and Millennials is a fuzzier line of demarcation than the end of World War II, the moment that defines the line between the Silent Generation and the Boomers. Yet based on my personal experience, there were certainly members of the early Boomer generation who clung to the values of the Silent Generation as others embraced the counter-culture of the late ’60s. Some opposed the Vietnam War, while others found antiwar protests unpatriotic. Some went to Woodstock; others eschewed the rock music played by long-haired hippies in favor of more mainstream artists like Frank Sinatra and Brenda Lee.

The key distinction attributed to Xennials by Professor Dan Woodman is that they had an analog childhood and a digital adulthood. But does this distinction change how we, as marketers, reach them? Does it affect their media consumption habits? Consider that the median number of Facebook friends for a Gen Xer and a Millennial is not all that different — 200 vs. 250. So while Gen Xers came to Social Media later in life, they’ve embraced it nonetheless.

While the idea of the Xennial micro-generation is an interesting one, the implications for marketers are limited — in my opinion. Crafting creative appeals to them would be problematic. Surely, there are Xennials who demonstrate the characteristics of one generation or the other just as in the early transition between the Silents and the Boomers included the vanguard and the rear guard. And no one has put forth the idea that Xennials demonstrate any marked differences in their media consumption habits.

For marketers, the differences among the members on either side of the generation dividing line become less important as the line moves farther into the past.

Consider what Xennial coiner Sarah Stankorb, born in 1980, wrote three years ago for Good magazine:

“When I was a young teen, I desperately wanted to be a Gen Xer like my brother, with all their ultra-chill, above-it-all, despondent counterculture. (Of course, wanting to be counterculture makes you anything but.) With the rise of Millennials and the sheer tonnage of articles on their character, their trophies, their optimism, their creativity — a little part of me hoped I could consider myself a Millennial, to be so shiny, so new. But the label fit about as comfortably as a pair of skinny jeans.”

Gen Xers were counterculture? I thought the Boomers owned that.

I think as a named generation, the Xennials are a short-lived phenomenon. What are your thoughts, marketers?

Should You Create a Mobile App?

As a marketer, you’ve created a Web page, established a social media presence and even experimented with mobile marketing. Is it time for the next step? Should you create a mobile app so your customers can engage with you more easily?

Mobile appsAs a marketer, you’ve created a Web page, established a social media presence and even experimented with mobile marketing. Is it time for the next step? Should you create a mobile app so your customers can engage with you more easily? According to the “Synchrony Financial 2017 Digital Study,” 63 percent of the U.S. population over the age of 15 have downloaded a retail app. The average adult has two retail apps on their phone at any given time.

Why People Download Mobile Apps

What are the driving forces causing customers to download retail apps? According to our study, the top reason why people download a mobile app was because they frequently shop at the brand — 51 percent said they downloaded an app for this reason. As a marketer, your most loyal customers are the best targets for an app.

The second reason was to make a purchase, at 48 percent, followed by the desire to browse and compare prices, at 37 percent. So, if you are planning on launching a mobile app, ensure that it’s easy to buy and browse products on it. These are driving factors for your customers.

Who are most likely to download mobile apps? You guessed it, it’s the Millennials. Millennials are downloading apps in huge numbers. Eighty-one percent of those aged 26 to 35 said they have downloaded a retailer app on their phone. The top reasons are the same, to browse, buy and compare prices.

Retailer App EngagementMost Important Mobile App Features

OK, so you’ve launched your mobile app. Now, you want to get people to use it, right? Well, do you know which features are most important to your customers? Below are the top-rated app features:

  • 69 percent — access to discounts and coupons
  • 30 percent — ability to order products quickly
  • 27 percent — product search feature
  • 23 percent — ability to make payments and check balances

So, the number one feature customers want from an app is the ability to save money and access to special offers. Other features that rate highly are speed, product search and payment-related features. If you want your customer to regularly use your mobile app, keep these features in mind. A few surprise and delight perks are always great ways to get customers interested and engaged.

Why Good Mobile Apps Go Bad (or Get Deleted)

The top reason mobile apps get deleted was due to poor functionality. Thirty-five percent of people deleted apps for this reason. If your app has poor functionality, doesn’t meet your customers’ needs or customers have a bad experience, your app will most likely get deleted. There is only so much space on a smartphone and today’s digital consumer doesn’t have much patience for a dysfunctional mobile app.

Coming in as a close second reason for deletion was simply that the app didn’t provide enough value. Thirty-four percent of consumers said they deleted a mobile app because they didn’t see the value in keeping it. This is a warning sign! Even if you spend the time and effort developing an app that runs great, if you don’t provide enough perks or benefits, it just won’t matter — it will get deleted.

In our hypercompetitive world of digital engagement, it’s important to prioritize our digital programs. One of the strategies to explore is engaging with your customers through your own mobile app. If that’s the case for you, be aware of the delighters and pain points for mobile app usage. It can be a great way to engage, but it can also be a lot of work for a minimal amount of gain, if not done correctly.

Note: The views expressed in this blog are those of the blogger and not necessarily of Synchrony Financial. All references to consumers and population refer to the survey respondents from the Synchrony Financial 2017 Digital Study unless otherwise noted.

Streaming Video Will Beat Addressable TV to the Punch

For years we’ve been hearing about addressable television, the ability to target TV ads to individual viewers much like you would online ads with targeting, and potentially even retargeting. But in my opinion, addressable TV is at least 3 years too late.

For years we’ve been hearing about addressable television, which is the ability to target TV ads to individual viewers much like you would online ads with targeting, and potentially even retargeting. In fact, eMarketer just released a report predicting that the addressable TV market will grow from $1.26 billion this year to $2.25 billion next year and $3.04 billion in 2019!

Those numbers sound amazing. But they’re not. In fact, even at $3 billion, addressable TV will only represent 4 percent of all TV ad spend, and the rate of increase is clearly declining.

eMarketer US Addressable TV Ad Spending, 2015-2019In my opinion, addressable TV is at least 3 years too late.

In the time broadcast television has taken to catch up with online advertising, not only has online advertising lapped it repeatedly in most forms of effectiveness (save only brand impression), online streaming services are stealing TV’s entertainment thunder, too. Streaming services from YouTube to Neflix and Hulu now attract not only top talent, but prime time viewership and awards. And with more competition on the way in Facebook Watch and Disney streaming (to name just two of many), television could well be staring down the barrel of an Adpocalypse. (For more on that, see our video from Monday.)

With all of these online video sites coming up, addressable TV looks less like the wave of the future and more like the whimper of a declining ad channel. Will TV ever catch up to the targeting capability of online advertising? And even if it did, will it ever catch up to the interactivity and ability to launch a direct conversion?

Even though Adobe added TV ad management and addressability to its marketing cloud, that feels more like the exception than the rule. Like tacking an analog tail onto the digital donkey.

What seems more likely to be the state of things in 10 years? That TV adopts the capabilities of digital, or that smart TVs and other home devices based on streaming displace traditional TV in living rooms?

Well, I still have TV with cable, but a quick survey of office Millennials shows what their choice is, and it ain’t the triple-play. Younger folks aren’t just cutting cords, they’re wondering why the hell anyone had cords in the first place.

In fact, the package deal is exactly what’s wrong with TV for viewers and advertisers alike. It’s 2017, you can watch exactly the media you want on dozens on online channels, and yet on cable you can only get content by channels packaged with dozens of other channels you probably don’t want.

It’s the same with your advertising. The people you want, packaged with thousands you don’t.

This is following the same script online transformation has in a dozen other industries. Taxis couldn’t give people what they wanted, so we got Uber. Stores couldn’t give people what they wanted, so we got Amazon.

Give people what they want, or the Internet will swallow your industry whole.

And for TV, it’s way too late to try to get addressable now.

Millennial Irony: Now They Eat Out Too Much

Two weeks ago, I blogged and did a video about the report that Millennials are “killing” casual dining restaurants. The whole idea sounded like something made up by a fired Fridays manager. Well, today, we got some new information that’s a real head-scratcher: Now Millennials are spending too much money eating out!

Two weeks ago, I blogged and did a video about the report that Millennials are “killing” casual dining restaurants. The whole idea sounded like something made up by a fired Fridays manager.

Well, today, we got some new information that’s a real head-scratcher: Now Millennials are spending too much money eating out!

The new information comes from a survey by BankRate. And they at least had the sense to let a Millennial break the news to her fellow Millennials. Apparently Millennials money woes shouldn’t be blamed on avocado toast at all, it’s all the happy hours. (The Yahoo Finance article the video comes from had additional commentary on it as well.)

(Aside: Is she talking to me? Born 1977, am I Gen X, Millennial or a damn Xennial? I can’t freakin’ tell! Can we please make up our minds at least about this? Studying generations is like discovering a very uncomfortable version of time travel at 40. Like trying to Instagram while spinning in one of those old, banned metal merry-go-rounds. … I do not cook at home a lot.)

Let me tell you folks, I am SHOCKED!

Me, every time conflicting information comes out about Millennials.
Me, every time conflicting information comes out about Millennials.

Every time one set of data comes out saying this is what Millennials are and the impact they’re having, just wait a couple weeks and a new set of data will say the opposite.

So, are they killing restaurants or keeping them in business? And if they’re out eating and drinking multiple times a week, but classic bar and grills can’t bring them in, is the younger adults’ faults?

One thing’s for sure: They are spending money. In fact, judging from that video, Millennials are spending money more freely than just about any generation in history. So if you’re not getting a piece of that, that’s on you.

One other thing I’m sure of: Even though almost all the Millennials are out in the workforce now, a lot of corporate America and the researchers feeding them data still don’t know Jack about who this generation really is or how to reach them. (“Us”? I still can’t tell.)

If Millennials ‘Kill’ You, You Had It Coming

Last week, Millennials were blamed for “Killing Casual Dining” restaurants like Ruby Tuesday and TGI Fridays (for Instagram, no less). And before that, it was napkins, and the institution of marriage, and even bar soap! But blaming Millennials for changing tastes is ridiculous.

Last week, Millennials were blamed for “Killing Casual Dining” restaurants like Ruby Tuesday and TGI Fridays (for Instagram, no less). And before that, it was napkins, and the institution of marriage, and even bar soap!

Source: www.andrewandpete.com
Source: www.andrewandpete.com

But blaming Millennials for changing tastes is ridiculous.

If you think an emerging generation of consumers is killing your business, then you probably suck at business, and you had it coming.

No segment of the customer base is an enemy combatant. They’re just different target markets.

If your target market wants something you’re not offering, that’s not them “killing” you, that’s you not recognizing opportunity.

People aren’t going to TGI Fridays because TGI Fridays isn’t offering what they want. And you know what, it may never be able to offer them what they want. But that doesn’t mean the restaurant’s under siege. It’s just not adapting.

Here in Philadelphia and the surrounding suburbs, we have a ton chef-driven restaurants springing up that don’t cost much more than casual dining, don’t take any longer, and have much, much better food!

That’s not a Millennial murder, that’s competition.

Why eat a 1000-calorie eggroll at a flare-pinned greasy spoon when I can hit the Blue Duck Sandwich Company for a porkroll burger that Thrillist named one of the best new burgers in America?

That’s a local restaurant in a shopping center around where I live in Northeast Philly. It’s not even downtown, it’s in a random residential-area shopping center (although they just opened two individual spinoff restaurants downtown because it’s been so successful).

When I was 20, TGI Fridays and Ruby Tuesdays were great places to go. They were better than the other casual dining options.

Now there are dozens of individual, non-chain restaurants and bars and grills within a 10-mile radius of my little corner of lower Bucks County Pennsylvania that do what TGI Fridays used to do better than it ever did.

This is market Darwinism at work. These new restaurants are able to compete better because they offer customers more of what they want.

And beyond the dining experience, customers today are keenly aware that going to these restaurants means supporting someone’s dream project — often a Millennial’s dream project. Flair that.

Casual dining chains just aren't how Millennials express themselves today.
It’s them expressing themselves.

You know, perhaps the most patronizing aspect of this whole hit job is that old businesses that can’t adapt are blaming Millennial consumers for their failure. When they really should be blaming the Millennial entrepreneurs who are eating their lunch.

So if you feel for a second like Millennials are killing your business, stop feeling sorry for yourself and start looking for the opportunity. Because it’s out there, and if you can’t find it, they will.

How Do You Market to Perennials?

Gina Pell, content chief at The What, was looking for a new way to look at people, beyond their birth year, calling it “so antiquated … so 20th century.” So she came up with the classification of Perennials.

Stereotyping Generations — Millennials, Boomers, Gen Xers, Perennials… and no, I’m not talking daisies, hostas or lilies (#plantnerd).

As a subscriber to a number of e-newsletters like theSkimm, The Hustle and NextDraft, I enjoy a lot of the world and national news brought to me, in a quick-take, often sassy format. And in the April 5 issue of NextDraft, I found out about Perennials.

Gina Pell, content chief at The What, was looking for a new way to look at people, beyond their birth year, calling it “so antiquated … so 20th century,” regarding shoehorning people into just being their generation.

She wanted to regard them by mindset … something that’s a bit different for marketers, who are classically used to segmenting prospects and customers by demographics, such as age, sex, education level, income level, marital status, occupation, religion.

In a post she wrote in October 2016 — titled, “Meet the Perennials” — Pell breaks the group down into this:

We are ever-blooming, relevant people of all ages who live in the present time, know what’s happening in the world, stay current with technology, and have friends of all ages. We get involved, stay curious, mentor others, are passionate, compassionate, creative, confident, collaborative, global-minded, risk takers who continue to push up against our growing edge and know how to hustle. We comprise an inclusive, enduring mindset, not a divisive demographic. Perennials are also vectors who have a wide appeal and spread ideas and commerce faster than any single generation.

Who’s not a Perennial? Someone who is close-minded, and who looks at life like a timeline, i.e., “By 30 I must accomplish this, this and this. By 40 I will have a growing family and will have reached management status. By 50 it’s time to slow down.”

Okay, so, as someone who is in the upper-age bracket of the Millennial generation, this speaks to me on some levels. I get sick and tired of being lumped into a group that can span nearly 20 years (I have very little in common with a 22-year-old, much less 15-year-old). That said, I face the a lot of the same challenges: dealing with student loan debt; struggling with job security; etc.

But while writing that sentence, it made me realize: hasn’t every generation dealt with those issues, too? In their own ways?

Pell closes her post with:

Being a Millennial doesn’t have to mean living in your parent’s basement, growing an artisanal beard, and drinking craft beer. Midlife doesn’t have to be a crisis. And you don’t have to be a number anymore. You’re relevant. You’re ever-blooming. You’re Perennial.

I appreciate the sentiment. But for marketers, how do you market to this group? Do you toss out demographic data, and instead focus on values? And is it worth it?

You tell me. And tell me what you think of the idea of Perennials … is it fitting, or just another buzzword-to-be?

Don’t Ignore Baby Boomers

Quick quiz: Which generation is huge in size, interested in experiences, loves to travel, owns digital devices and is active in social media? Millennials? No, it’s actually Baby Boomers. Surprised? The Baby Boomer generation tends to be overlooked, but they are an important consumer segment.

Baby BoomersQuick quiz: Which generation is huge in size, interested in experiences, loves to travel, owns digital devices and is active in social media?

Millennials?

No, it’s actually Baby Boomers. Surprised? The Baby Boomer generation tends to be overlooked, but they are an important consumer segment.

This population — born between 1946 and 1964 — are 74 million strong and have more disposable income than any other generation. They are more likely to be in the upper-income group. According to Pew Research, 27 percent of boomers are in the upper income group, which is the highest figure of all generations. Principal economist at Kantar Retail, Doug Hermanson, notes:

“Upper-income Boomers can sustain their pre-recession spending and be a strong driver of the consumer economy over the next five to 10 years. They have the money to spend. It’s a different mindset of saving before and now saying, ‘I’ve got to spend it while I’m here.’”

Let’s dig into these mass affluent Baby Boomers. These are defined as those who have $100,000-$250,000 in household income and over $250,000 in savings. They are an optimistic bunch, with 77 percent saying their goal is to have an interesting life.

Over 80 percent say they live a healthy lifestyle, and they are much more likely to give to charities. Pew Research reports that Boomers are living longer, with an average life expectancy of 80 years old, up from 68 in 1950. Many are now entering their retirement years. While about half of all adults say they feel younger than their actual age, 61 percent of Boomers are feeling more spry than their age would imply.

So what drives spending for this important segment? Quality is important to the mass affluent Boomer, with nine out of 10 saying they are more likely to value quality over brand name. They also like to shop within brands they feel an emotional connection with. And over 70 percent of Boomers across all income levels say the fact that they “like” a retailer is a driver of retail selection.

So, now that we have seen how they like to spend money, let’s take a look at what this generation plans to spend money on. About a quarter of Baby Boomers in the mass affluent category say they will spend more money in general in the coming year. Baby Boomers at the higher income level are more likely to prefer experiences over things: 73 percent of them say they prefer to spend money on experiences, vs. 69 percent of Millennials. Their spend categories emphasize travel, home improvement and charities.

Additionally, Synchrony Financial consumer surveys reveal the following:

  • The highest category of future spend will be travel. About 40 percent of mass affluent Boomers plan to spend more on travel next year. AARP estimates Baby Boomers spend more than $120 billion annually on leisure travel.
  • The second highest spend category is home improvement, with 32 percent of Boomers spending more on home improvement in the coming year, and 22 percent spending more on home furnishings.
  • Boomers are much more likely to say that they give to charitable causes, with 79 percent saying they plan in increase their charitable giving.

The Digital Divide: Boomers and Technology

Let’s take a look at the most talked-about difference between Baby Boomers and younger generations — digital technology. The reality is that the Baby Boomer population is on-par with younger generations when it comes to smartphone ownership, online shopping and social media access. Three out of four Baby Boomers own a smartphone, up 19 percent from a year ago. The generational divide exists in the usage of digital devices. Synchrony Financial’s research studies show that Boomers are much less likely than Millennials to use their smartphone for a multitude of tasks — from shopping to texting to social media postings.

But contrary to what some may think, Boomers have a great deal of access and interaction with social media. Ninety-two percent of Boomers say they have access to a social media channel — mainly Facebook (82 percent of Boomers have access to Facebook, up from 76 percent only a year ago). But they not influenced by social media for purchases. Only one third say they purchased a product after seeing it on social media, which is a significantly lower figure than that of younger generations: For Millennials, that number tops 70 percent.

How well does your business cater to this large and important segment of the population? Generalizations are difficult for any population of this size, but in general, Boomers are optimistic, secure and not done spending. Brands who provide a great shopping experience, high quality and seamless digital technology will go far in attracting this important segment.

Sources: All data is sourced from the following three studies, unless otherwise noted: Synchrony Financial 2016 Loyalty Study, Synchrony Financial 2016 Affluent Survey and Synchrony Financial 2016 Digital Study. All references to consumers and population refer to the survey respondents.

Note: The views expressed in this blog are those of the blogger and not necessarily of Synchrony Financial.

The Making of a ‘Perfect’ Mobile Ad

The Verve whitepaper, “The Rise of Mobile Prodigies™: Millennials, Gen Z and the Future of Mobile Marketing,” provides some useful insights on engaging younger cohorts on smartphones (Millennials now have buying power of between $200-600 billion and Gen Z currently has $44 billion, according to the report).

Deliver_Brand_In_Digital2-2(1)While I was attending LiveRamp’s RampUp 2017 Summit last week, I attended a session on the “Skeptical Consumer,” which included a reference to recent research: “The Rise of Mobile Prodigies: Millennials, Gen Z and the Future of Mobile Marketing” (Verve, 2016). A good part of this session — which included speakers from the Digital Advertising Alliance, Venable, TRUSTe and Gap, as well as Verve — focused on how brands can overcome consumer skepticism over data collection with regard to digital/mobile advertising. (There’s much hope here.) The Verve white paper provided some useful insights on engaging younger cohorts on smartphones (Millennials now have buying power of between $200 and $600 billion and Gen Z, currently $44 billion, according to the report).

There’s a bevy of insights in the research, but I was particularly intrigued with one finding: What Makes a More “Perfect” Mobile Ad, as reported by these Mobile-First (mobile-only) users:

Source: “The Rise of Mobile Prodigies,” Verve, 2016, p 11.
Source: “The Rise of Mobile Prodigies,” Verve, 2016, p 11.

Too often, mobile is not driving most marketers’ brand engagement strategies — but not for long. These “Mobile Prodigies” are here and now, and they’re spending up to 90 percent of their smartphone time in the app environment — perhaps the majority of these apps are financed by advertising.

More than 55 percent of these consumers are using ad-blocking software and 82 percent delete apps that they perceive to fail to deliver value for the data collected … but oh, what relevance can do! Six in 10 would download more free apps, connect apps to their Facebook accounts, share location data and even share fitness and sleep data in exchange for a personalized experience. One in three say they reverse opt-out permissions when personalized ads, based on context and behavior, are offered.

Verve writes, “If we serve Mobile Prodigies best-in-class mobile experiences, they are willing to share their personal information — their permission comes down to relevance and reward.”

That sentiment actually mirrors that of Generation X and Baby Boomers. However, how that value is demonstrated in mobile requires a whole new level of branded experiences for Millennials and Gen Z, with a demand to use data in highly relevant and creative ways that still largely remains elusive on smartphones. Perhaps that’s why 2,500 were in San Francisco to examine better ways to deploy data in service to consumers, and 108,000 were in Barcelona a few days before — in part, in quest for the perfect mobile ad.