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But my Customers Aren’t On Digital!

From granny to baby, every generation is jumping on the internet—here’s what retailers need to know. Digital Device Online Internet Wireless Technology Communication Concept

Digital Device Online Internet Wireless Technology Communication Concept

In the beginning the internet was for a select few, the techarati, who loved all things new. Now the internet has become a way of life. Want to check the weather? Grab your tablet. Need the time? Look at your smartphone. Time to cook? Your laptop has a library of recipes. Doing Taxes? Turbotax is saved to your desktop.

Although we all use the internet for everyday needs, many of us still think of it as something for the young or just for social media and email. We have a hard time thinking of older generations browsing websites or looking for coupon deals—and the same goes for the younger generations. So Melrose has taken an in-depth look at what the different generations—Boomers, GenXers and Millenials—are actually doing online and how your shop can benefit from it.

What is everyone doing on the internet these days?

Surprisingly, all the generations have something in common—website browsing while relaxing. That means that your website could be viewed by anyone of any generation. And if you send out emails they are probably being read by most of your customers too.

Internet Use While Watching TV (emarketer 2015)

~ Boomers: Read Email, Browse web, Social Media
~ Genx: Browse web, Read email, Text, Social media
~ Millennial: Browse web, Text, Social media

 How are people getting on the internet?

Almost everyone is accessing the internet from multiple devices. The younger generations are more likely to be on smartphones and the younger generations on a laptop or desktop. Keep that in mind when you are choosing how you market to your shoppers.

Internet access by device (emarketer 2014)

~ Boomers: Are most likely to engage with digital on a laptop or a desktop.
~ Genx: Prefer Laptops and smartphones.
~ Millennial: Prefer laptops and smartphones.

I hear Facebook is getting less popular.

It’s true that Facebook is not growing as rapidly as it once was, but that is because so many people are already using it—there is not a lot of growth left! Coming up fast in popularity behind Facebook is Instagram which is projected to beat out Twitter in popularity in the next year. So what does social network growth over the next few years look like for each generation—that is how much of the population will be using social media?

Social Media Penetration (emarketer 2015)

~ Boomer internet users: will use social networks regularly and penetration will be above 60%.
~ Genx internet users: well-above-average penetration rates, ranging from 80% to 87%.
~`Millennial internet users: highest social network penetration, at 95%.

How do shoppers want to interact with retailers?

Here is a big surprise! While shoppers love their internet for inspiration, browsing for deals and planning, when it comes to interacting with retailers directly they still want to do it the old fashioned way—in person.  So send out those emails and brush up that website, but don’t forget your store associates!

Preferred way to interact with retailers (emarketer 2014)

~ Boomers: Email, Store Associate , Mail
~ Genx: Email, Store Associate , Website
~ Millennial: Email, Store Associate, Text

From generation to generation, digital usage differs. Millenials are using their smartphones more while older generations prefer laptops and desktops. Boomers prefer email and are less likely to engage in text messaging. BUT, despite their differences, all generations have high rates of digital dependence so retailers should make sure their websites appeal to all generations and remember boomers when they think about internet marketing. And, all digital aside, there is still a strong preference for shoppers to interact with store associates, no matter what the generation.

How are you interacting with your customers online? Are you seeing a growth in internet use by Boomers? Do you feel that the in-person touch is still as important as ever to your store? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

Melrose International is an industry leader in wholesale home décor, giftware, and seasonal items. Providing outstanding products, service, design, and value since 1985!

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