November 15, 2023

Targeting Holiday Shoppers Across the Ages

By Jay Bemis | Advertising Systems Inc.
It’s that time of the year when many shoppers fret over what to get kids, parents, grandparents and others when compiling their shopping lists for the holiday season.

Marketers have been concerned about such age ranges and how to reach them, too, as eMarketer/Insider Intelligence noted in a recent report titled “Tips to help retailers reach Gen Alpha, Gen Z and beyond this holiday season.”

“Gen Z (ages 11-26) is ready to spend this season,” eMarketer/Insider Intelligence says, summing up several recent forecasts about the 2023 holiday shopping period and how marketers and retailers might target different age groups.

“Millennials (27-42 years old) may be a bit cautious. YouTube is the place to go if brands want to get on Gen Alpha’s radar (shoppers born wholly in the 21st century). And for older consumers (Gen X and Baby Boomers, 43-58 years old and 59-77 years of age, respectively), trust is the key to getting them to spend.”

Why Are Gen Zers So Ready to Shop This Holiday Season?

“Gen Z consumers are 44% more likely to increase their spending this holiday season when compared with millennials, Gen Xers and baby boomers,” eMarketer/Insider Intelligence says, citing research by First Insights that was  “shared exclusively with Insider Intelligence.”

But Gen Zers also are looking for deals.

“In fact,” Insider says, “nearly half (48%) of Gen Zers say they would start shopping earlier if retailers rolled out deals and promotions earlier, compared with 28% of the total US population, according to Shopify.

“… Gen Z consumers also plan to buy 70% more gift cards than older generations this holiday season, per Blackhawk Network.”

The holiday strategy, then, for marketers and retailers targeting Gen Z?

“Gen Zers may be looking for reasons to spend,” Insider Intelligence concludes, “but they appreciate a good deal. Use small perks like buy one, get one free gift cards or sample freebies to encourage them to treat themselves and their loved ones.”

As for the Gen Alpha youngsters, those aging millennials and the steadily graying Gen Xers and baby boomers, Insider Intelligence offers these tips for marketers and retailers as they continue to target products and services for different age groups this holiday season:

Prepubescents Love Their YouTube

YouTube plays a major role in both entertainment and product discovery among Gen Alpha, according to the Insider, citing these reports:

  • 54% of Gen Alpha kids possess their own tablets, on which they watch streaming video content from YouTube, Disney+ and Netflix, per a Morning Consult survey as reported by Insider.
  • And what they see online, particularly around shopping and unboxing content, directly influences their retail choices, according to 56% of parents surveyed by Morning Consult.
  • Over half (51%) of Gen Alphas first hear about brands through YouTube videos, per Razorfish.

And YouTube learns how to reel in the youngsters, the Insider summary notes: “Knowing that creators are essential for success, YouTube has added new features to help make it easier to market products on its platform.”

The holiday strategy for marketers and retailers wanting to target Gen Alpha?

“Brands that want to reach Gen Alpha must have a presence on YouTube, potentially using creators to help increase product awareness.”

Millennials Keep Track of Their Dollars and Cents

Millennials “may be a little more cautious about their holiday spending this year,” the Insider summary says, noting these stats:

  • Some 37% of millennials say they “want to cry when they think about how much the holidays will cost them this year,” per a Qualtrics survey on behalf of Intuit Credit Karma reported by Retail Brew.
  • To help spread costs out, 53% of millennials plan to use installment plans — like buy now, pay later (BNPL) — often this holiday season, according to a survey from

And, “Millennials aren’t the only ones who will be taking advantage of alternative payment services this year … as consumers struggle to balance holiday spending with everyday costs, BNPL spending will help drive a record $17 billion in online spending this holiday season, per Adobe.”

The holiday strategy for marketers and retailers when it comes to those 27-to-42-year-olds?

“To cater to cost-conscious consumers, brands should lean heavily on deals and discounts while also offering flexible payment options both in-store and online.”

Trust Is Important to the Older, AI-Wary Folks

“Knowing and trusting a brand is the top factor influencing purchase decisions for US adults, particularly among those ages 55 and older, per an August 2023 CivicScience survey,” the Insider reports, adding bluntly: “Brands that over-rely on AI during the holiday season probably won’t earn that trust.”

  • 44% of US adults ages 45 to 59 and 31% of adults 60 and older don’t trust businesses to use AI responsibly at all, according to a Bentley University/Gallup survey the Insider offers as one example.
  • If a brand is using AI in customer interactions, the best way to earn the trust of Gen Xers and Baby Boomers is by giving them an option to opt out or talk to a person, per January 2023 Redpoint Global data.

The holiday retail/marketing strategy for the older folks, the Insider says:

“It may be tempting to use AI to keep costs down during the holidays, but don’t forget about the consumers who are still wary of the technology. Make sure that customers have a variety of ways to interact with your brand, including a good old-fashioned phone call.”

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