By Aaron Lumnah, Senior Manager Marketing Demand Generation

Engaging with customers at the right moment in time, in the right way, in the medium that best suits their needs, is vital for creating more meaningful and positive experiences that build richer, deeper relationships, going forward.

However, the fast-paced evolution of technology means that each generation is responding to these changes in highly differentiated ways.

So much so, that each age group has its own unique set of expectations when it comes to interacting with brands. To complicate matters, these expectations can vary by channel as well.

Regardless of whether it’s making it easy for consumers to engage with customer service channels, undertake shopping research, or navigate an easy and intuitive path to purchase, today’s brands increasingly need to understand and address the individual generational preferences of every demographic.

Getting Customer Engagement Right

Recent research reveals that 84% of customers say the experiences provided by a company is just as important to them as its products and services. Indeed, for many, its now the key differentiator they look for when determining which brands to do business with.

But that’s not the only challenge facing brands.

As consumers embrace new communications technologies, their expectations about how they engage with brands is evolving at pace. The adoption of smart speakers, or voice assistants, for example, is growing at 40% a year, with over a quarter of US adults now owning one of these speakers. Indeed, the rising popularity of voice assistants like Siri, Alexa and Google means that 75% of customers say they now expect companies to use new technologies, like AI, to create better experiences for them.

The speed and ease of digital channels also means that consumers are becoming increasingly impatient with the idea of ‘waiting’ for answers or dealing with simple issues that they could resolve for themselves, using self-service options.

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Getting to Grips with Consumer Preferences

One thing is for sure, understanding the channel preferences of each age demographic is just part of the puzzle. To close the loop – and securely engage with customers in every channel – when it comes to handling payments, PCI DSS compliance will also need to be at heart of every brand’s commerce strategy.

Let’s take a quick look at the shifting channel preferences of the different generations.

Baby Boomers

Aged 53-71, baby boomers are the most ‘traditional’ consumers. Most likely to rank direct mail of higher value for research than any other generation, they also value email and consider channels like a brand’s website important – over half will have made a purchase from Amazon in the past 30 days.

Despite being increasingly confident online consumers, 50% of baby boomers say they still typically begin their purchasing journey’s in-store. Less likely to use apps, the majority (62%) prefer to use the telephone to speak to call centers.

Generation X

Shaped by numerous technological advancements, consumers aged 38-52 expect to encounter a streamlined and convenient path to purchase. The first generation to assimilate the Internet and digital technologies into their daily lives, they still check and use email frequently.

When it comes to social media, these consumers are regular users of Facebook and YouTube but tend to keep social media for personal use only, rather than communicating with businesses.


Unsurprisingly, 94% of millennials (consumers aged 22-37) have a strong preference for digital formats. Open to personalized interactions from brands, especially those that reward their loyalty, they find email and mobile apps important when making a purchasing decision or undertaking shopping journeys.

More likely than older generations to make email purchases, they also place high value on social media like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube Instagram and Pinterest. What’s more, 41% of millennial smartphone users have completed an in-store transaction using their mobile device. They’re also more likely to embrace SMS and chat apps as a more convenient way to communicate with businesses.

Millennials are also the most likely cohort to contain the fast-growing DINKS (dual income, no kids) demographic. With higher than normal household incomes, they’re typically time poor and are very early adopters of new digital technologies.

Generation Z (Centennials)

Aged under 21, this cohort of consumers are true digital natives who are less inclined to engage in traditional customer service channels such as phone or email.

More than 80% of this generation looks to social media when making a purchasing decision, with Instagram and Snapchat ranking highly. Despite this, this generation of shoppers are most likely to seek out and enjoy the in-store shopping experience.

As natural multi-taskers, they’re the most likely to expect their digital interactions with businesses to be personalized and tailored to their needs.

Download Now: Guide to Embracing an Omnichannel Payments Strategy

Transact in Every Channel with Confidence

Serving all these demographics across multiple channels can stretch PCI DSS compliance to breaking point. Without appropriate compliance in place, it can be difficult to transact in the channels certain customer segments are most likely to favor.

The good news is that today it’s possible to achieve compliance in every channel, without having to build out a new technology stack for every one. Solutions like Semafone’s Cardprotect Relay+ make it easy to transact in every digital engagement channel and using them, you can get up and running in days. The result is consistent and secure customer interactions, regardless of what channel or device they’re using.

Mind the Demographic Shift: How Different Generations are Going Omnichannel

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