Consumer Behaviour in Different Generations. Online Marketing versus Traditional Marketing

Diploma Thesis, 2017

32 Pages, Grade: 5.00


Acknowledgements ... 3
Introduction ... 4
Literature review ... 7
Methodology ... 12
Results/Analysis ... 14
Discussion ... 21
Conclusions and Recommendations ... 26
References ... 30
List of Tables
Percentage of respondents having social media account
2.Percentage of respondents, having subscriptions for promotions sends via e-mail
3.How far is the nearest shopping centre from your home?
4.Usage of online payments ( PayPal, online banking etc)
5. Age of the respondents
6. Monthly income in BGN

This work is represents the end of my Master program in Business Administration and has
been carried out by myself and by the tools of Google forms. The author gratefully
acknowledges all that. A special thanks goes also to my friends and acquaintances, who
helpfully filled in the questionnaire, providing me with the research results - a significant part
of that Master thesis. The author is also in debt to them for their helpful comments and careful
looking after the relevant data processing.

Recent literature suggests that every generation has its own unique characteristics that
respectively should be treated by marketers in a completely different way (Morris, 1982). It is
argued that a vast potential exists for responding to the unique needs and behaviours of the
individuals. This is especially true since via marketing and marketer factors, the different
generations build easier relationships, gain trust and establish business connections. Besides,
the consumer behaviour in different generations is one of the most important marketing trends
in the last 25 years in the establishment of multi-generational marketing (Walker, 2003).
Simply put, good opportunities exist for the industries in order to establish the exact
marketing behaviour towards its right customers. Thus, the question of having different
consumer behaviour in the different ages, places the question of online marketing versus
traditional also to be considered. In other words, the potential of online marketing as a vehicle
for scaling up the income of the modern industries should not lead to the traditional marketing
being completely forgotten. Indeed, in any area where there is a concentration of marketing
activities, the opportunities which arise from considering the behaviour of the customers in
the different generations could be central to what marketing tools work for each generation
but also to why some tools are perceived as wrong and some not. Consequently, this may lead
to a significant gathering of data on what different consumers prefer and what channels work
best for each of them. Thus, the idea of analyzing the consumer behaviour in different
generation may start to seem appealing and desirable.
This thesis, argues that the consumer behaviour in different generations is barely one and the
same, since each generation has unique beliefs, knowledge, skills and values that
understandably pose an impact on its buying behaviours. For instance, the economy, scientist
progress, politics, technology, the social shocks such as the recent terrorist attacks has
enormous impact on the various generations. On the other hand, having in mind all that
knowledge in the form of already gathered information the marketers need to respond and
adjust to their tastes accordingly. Therefore, the contrast in the consumer behaviour in
different generations should not be taken for granted, as the diversification of the tastes of the
different people will always be treated as a challenge for the marketing as a whole. Indeed,
Leaver, D, Schmidt, R (2009) highlight the fact that the generation of Baby Boomers for
example, are good consumers for travel, adventure vacations, expensive restaurant meals,
financial advisors, personal trainers and all sort of entertainments. On the contrary, the

generation X consumers are characterized by more cautious purchases and placing high value
on family not on the material possessions, as a whole ( Lager, 2006).
However, while studies on the generational differences in consumer behaviour are vast, few
have been focused on the impact of the online marketing versus traditional marketing. One
example is Baskin (2015) who has investigated the different consumer patters of the
consumers of different generations since 1954 to nowadays. Its findings showed that Pre-
Depression Generation, Depression Generation, Baby Boomers, Generation X, Generation Y,
and Generation Z have different shopping preferences and therefore should be treated
differently on part of the marketers (Baskin, 2015). Another study (Kaylene et all, 2016)
found that being sensitive to the various generations will help marketers to become more
conscious of and responsive to their customers' needs and behaviours.
Unlike the above studies where the focus was on the customers from the various generations
buying preferences, this thesis attempts to provide distinction on what marketing tools work
for each generation and why some of them are more effective than others. In brief, its aim is
to show what the different buyers prefer by analyzing the already gathered data on how the
difference in age, education, and income influence their choice. All of the abovementioned
will be achieved via the methods of the inductive approach and the qualitative research, based
on a survey with a questionnaire; as one of my efforts is to give a complete and detailed
picture of the consumer preferences in the different generations, the research will examine
Bulgarian customers aged 18 to 60, however due to the time limits and budget constraints it
will confine itself to the Sofia and its surroundings. The sample frame includes colleagues of
mine, relatives, MBA and Bachelor students as well as acquaintances and neighbours. Online
observations in terms of monitoring the impact of the social media on consumer behaviour
and did it at all influences the older generations will also be conducted.
To sum up, although the survey establishes the fact that there are differences in the consumer
patterns of the different consumer generations, it would be tremendously wrong to presume
that every person in one age group has exactly the same buying preferences as the other
people in it. Because of this, and considering the size of the questionnaire and the number of
the respondents to it, it would be a shrewd choice not to conform at 100% to its outcomes.
Practically, now marketers have systematized survey allowing them to determine the
consumer behaviour in different generations and to target it accordingly. The research
confirms in great extent the findings of other studies and surveys (Lager,M; Cranston,B;

Williams,G; Rosenberg, J; Stone,M et all; Koco,l; DePaulla,M; Ezell,B; Cohen, A.M;
Spencer,M; Labi,S;Ford,G.C), i.e that for example, the people aged 36-45 years old do not
prefer particular brand, but place value on quality. The results are also in confirmation of the
principles that define the generations, by themselves.

Literature review
According to Walker (2003), the different generations of buyers could be divided into several
categories, from Baby boomers to Generation Z. Having in mind, the relationship between
these different age groups, what could be said is that they coexist harmoniously and to an
extent that they complement each other. Simply put, each generation's behaviour could be
described in regard to the times in which they grew up, their attitudes and their lifestyles.
According to the literature on the subject there are 3 types of buying models:
Economic model
Stimuli-response model
Stimuli-organism- response model.
Economic model
people are rational in their behavior as customers
want full-scale satisfaction
access to enough amount of information
well-informed and reasonable decisions.
considered as the rational type of (Simon, 1979)
Baines et al. (2011) made an interesting observation that, immediately after the
Second World War customers were more likely to base their buying decisions
following more rational motives. People were seeking utility satisfaction (their
personal one) because of the need for product and resources availability and inevitable
best cost-benefit analysis.
Stimulus Response Model
The second model of buyer behavior is the stimulus-response model (Blagoev, 2003;
East et al., 2013; Payne et al., 2013). Also known as the black-box model (Bagozzi,
1986; Blagoev, 2003) or the reinforcement model (East et al., 2013, p.7)
It includes the relevant influence of the marketing mix elements. The model presents
how customers' personal characteristics, the interpersonal and the intrapersonal
stimuli, and the consumer responses interact with each other (Evans et al., 2013).
Behaviorism (Blythe, 2013).

Stimulus-Organism-Response Model
The third model of stimulus-organism-response (Blagoev, 2003; Evans et al., 2013;
Armstrong et al., 2013) depicts the buying process as a mixture of psychological and
physiological events. The model characterizes the purchasing of specific goods and
services subject to the strong influence of customer thinking, feelings and emotions.
Generation of Baby Boomers
In the competitive relation of consumer behaviour and the different generations my analysis
should start from the Baby Boomers, or the generation born during 1946-1964. Regarding
their attitudes, the Baby Boomers should be described as individualists and workaholics
(Koco, 2006). In most of the cases, Baby Boomers have managed to increase their
discretionary income and time (Musico, 2008); the latest two categories embody not only
physical phenomena but relate also to social contexts, and to the process of making sense
of one or another consumer behaviour. The generation of Baby Boomers has the following
characteristics in regard to the consumer behaviour:
· they are tech savvy (Chang, 2007);
· prefer to give their means for health, wellness and energy (Beasty, 2006);
· In brief, people from the Baby Boom generation like options and flexibility in
Some of the most widespread concerns for the generation of the Baby Boomers is that they
are aging and that they do not want to be reminded of that fact; that stresses the necessity
of products such as plastic surgery, Botox, baldness treatment, Viagra, spa centres,
cosmetics, hair coloring and health foods (Anonymous, 2009). Tourism, as leisured travel
and the industry that supports it is preferred by the Baby Boomers as well; most of them
also prefer to hire personal chefs, personal trainers, motorcycles and investment bankers
(Leaver and Schmidt, 2009).
Moore and Carpenter (2008) argue that Baby Boomers mostly value location, service and
everyday-low-prices. The existence of the corresponding requirements shows that the
Boomers may actually be permanently altering their shopping behaviours due to the recent
economic downturns (Misonzhnik, 2009). Also, Baby Boomers prefer the information
regarding particular purchase to be presented in terms of simple facts, on the basis of which to

make informed purchase decision. Moreover, the marketer offering them a particular product
should be prepared to organize social gatherings and even professional seminars in order to
sell the people of that generation, its product.
Talking about the terms of communication with them they prefer the easy access to the
Internet that gives them information about job sites, online social networking sites, sites with
discounts and many more; as it needs to be mentioned if the target is Boomers, the advertising
sites should abound with information, easy navigation and the usage of texts rather than
images (Higgins, 1998). As far as the social media is concerned, it should have its influence
on them, as well as the relevant blogs (De Paula, 2003).
Generation X - the disillusioned consumers
Past studies have consistently demonstrated that the next generation - the generation X (born
between 1965-1977) have reached adulthood in difficult economic times (Regnier, 2009).
Numerous studies have confirmed the fact that their success has been less certain, as they are
most likely to be self-employed professional than company loyal officers (Moore and
Carpenter, 2008). Although they have taken greater responsibility for raising themselves, they
date and marry cautiously, as for that generation nothing is permanent. The core of the
critique for the Generation X is that they are highly educated, even though they are
pessimistic, disillusioned with almost everything and questioning the norms of
conventionality. Basically, that is the reason why the Xers ( people from the Generation X)
are more free riders than team players (Eisner, 2005; Cranston, 2008).
Talking about their marketing preferences what should be noted is that they shop at value-
oriented retailers; their most noticeable characteristic trait being unsure of themselves and the
choices they made could be successfully used by the marketers who can plan their needs
instead of them. The products that the Generation X, mostly buys are:
· products and services to set-up households for young children (Regnier, 2009);
· houses, despite all of the above mentioned the Xers were the home buyers caught in
the housing bubble (Anonymous, 2009); as well as
· cars, appliances, and magazines (Himmel, 2008).
The result is that the Xers want products and services designed uniquely for their lifestyle, as
they see technology as life-changer. The methods of communication used for them are mostly
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Consumer Behaviour in Different Generations. Online Marketing versus Traditional Marketing
Cardiff Metropolitan University
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Silvia Stamenova (Author), 2017, Consumer Behaviour in Different Generations. Online Marketing versus Traditional Marketing, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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