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Home Blog Retail Product Display Blog Retail Trends and Tips A Guide to the Trends that Appeal to Five Generations of Shoppers

A Guide to the Trends that Appeal to Five Generations of Shoppers

Mills Display Retail Trends and Tips

The double hit of an ageing population and an increasingly connected and tech-savvy youth means that New Zealand retailers face the prospect of appealing to five generations in their stores. Although most shop owners already understand their target audience, they also face having to work out how these five generations respond to different types of marketing and retail display – even store layout – in order to make the most of their potential customer-pool. Successful stores will combine elements so that customers don’t feel ostracised from buying specific products or to attract inter-generational shopping groups – for example, parents or grandparents accompanying children – and their potential sales.

So what are the generations and how do they respond to stores and marketing? The terminology changes slightly around the world – as do the years, although not by a great deal – but the general picture is:

  • Generation Z (iGen, Linksters): born post 1998
  • Generation Y (Millennials): born 1979 to 1997
  • Generation X: born 1965 to 1978
  • Baby boomers: born 1946 to 1964
  • Traditionalists: born before 1946

Generation Z

This most recent group of shoppers may be young but they’re potentially more switched on than any of their elders. Even toddlers respond to high-tech innovation and the incredible marketing success of films such as Frozen (that appealed to both boys and girls and across a wide age range) have proven that the generation that grew up entirely within technology have an incredibly broad range of experience across social media and traditional media such as film and television. Because most Gen-Zers have been raised by demanding and sceptical Gen-X parents, though, it isn’t enough to simply and stealthily appeal to blatant consumerism – especially with younger children, it’s important to get the older generations onside too.

Key instore marketing trends: Many Gen-Zers are connected to their mobile devices and are researching online while they’re in-store so retailers can supply information points around their stores or provide apps/websites that run in conjunction with the bricks and mortar shopping experience. This generation is also interested in the overall experience – they expect multi-media and multi-disciplinary displays or combinations of entertainment and retail. Even parent creches, where mum and dad can have a coffee while the kids go off and browse are becoming popular.

Generation Y

This generation helped develop and grow the technology that Gen-Zers take for granted and have seen it develop exponentially during their lifetime. Technology means Gen-Yers are incredibly well-educated about the world around them and are good at multi-tasking – but, because they were largely raised by Baby Boomers, they are also incredibly demanding customers.

Key instore marketing trends: This is the generation that cares that the in-store music is on-trend, that they have WiFi and that they can instantly tweet or Instagram their purchases. They might research online but they are also very visual and experience-biased when it comes to purchasing so respond well to interesting or quirky retail displays, front-of-store and end-of-aisle tubs and bins or in-store promotions.

Pretty lady in retail computer store

Generation X

Because many Gen Xers grew up in an age of financial insecurity and workaholic parents they tend to challenge authority and value work-life balance. For Gen-Xers, especially those with young families, time is an important commodity and they don’t appreciate browsing unless it has a strong purpose – they may well spend time online researching purchases before heading in-store, already knowing what they want. All of this points towards stores providing clear and transparent marketing strategies, helpful displays and information boards and ways to make Gen-Xers’ lives easier.

Key instore marketing trends: Gen-Xers like to have their store laid out to help them find their way around. Group items which go together – for example, menu ingredients in the same food display cabinet or everything you need to decorate a bathroom or build a patio – or offer in-store demonstrations and classes to give your business more of a community feel.

Baby Boomers

The post-war baby boom has created what is now a large generation of big-spending, money-comfortable customers who feel they have worked hard to get where they have and are now entitled to enjoy the fruits of their labours – albeit without wasting their cash. They are big online shoppers but also react well to finding and testing the latest gadgets, tools, tastes and products. They value loyalty and consistency in brands and in where and how they spend their money.

Key instore marketing trends: Although Baby Boomers like technology, they do prefer the human touch and so value practical things such as parking, accessible displays and clear and precise point of sale displays. They also respond well to cash-back or reward programs based on their spending levels.

Male Sales Assistant At Checkout Of Clothing Store With Customers


This generation experienced the economic and social turmoil before and during World War II and is therefore disciplined, frugal and conservative – they are, however, the first generation to have reached 70-plus with good health. They may need products aimed specifically at older people and respond well to store layouts which take accessibility, display and signage seriously, but they are also an increasingly tech-savvy generation who will take their purchasing online if they find it easier.

Key instore marketing trends: It can be beneficial to market products to seniors based on individuality and usefulness rather than simply financial grounds – provide information on solutions and offer one-on-one advice if necessary. Aisles, shelving and displays should provide easy access and signage should be clear and precise.

Mills Display can help your business find the right custom solution or off-the-shelf display products to suit your target customers’ generation. For more information download a catalogue, email us or talk to one of our salespeople on Live Chat.


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