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New Consumer Study Identifies Generational Influences

Study finds that each generation connects with brands differently based on life experiences, but some expectations are consistent across cohorts: Security, easy brand interactions, transparency  

COLUMBUS, Ohio, March 21, 2017 – Whether consumers shop online or in-store, or integrate both for a “brick and mobile” experience, life stage and lifestyle influence their shopping behaviors. There are subtle generational differences to consumer buying behaviors that retailers must master to be successful, according to a new study released today by Alliance Data Systems Corporation's card services business (, a premier provider of branded private label, co-brand and business credit programs. The newest report from Alliance Data provides insights into how shoppers’ coming-of-age experiences define their future shopping behaviors. The free report is available for download on Alliance Data’s Insights and News page.

Alliance Data’s Analytics and Insights Institute conducted The Generational Perspective study with more than 2,400 respondents to better understand consumer buying behavior and expectations. These insights, cross-referenced with results from the company’s Understanding Customer Loyalty study, confirmed that consumer buying habits track closely with life stage and each generation’s cultural identity.

“Alliance Data’s study showed that our expectations are first guided by generational identity and then by life’s different stages – career, family, empty-nesting and retirement,” said Shannon Andrick, vice president of marketing advancement at Alliance Data’s card services business. “We note that ‘brick and mobile’ is growing but in-store is still king, and successful brands recognize that channel matters, but not as much as the overall brand experience does. And, they must keep their eyes on the next generation so they can accommodate their emerging shopping preferences, too.”

Among the key takeaways from Alliance Data’s The Generational Perspective Study:

  • Current shopping behaviors are driven by generational experiences – Gen Xers and Millennials came of age during the information revolution and want instant gratification.  
  • All consumers share baseline brand expectations, regardless of generation – non-negotiables include payment security, easy brand interactions, and transparent promotions.
  • Each generation connects with brands differently – Millennials define loyalty differently than the Silent Generation, and are willing to go out of their way for a brand they love.


Alliance Data recommends brands think generationally about the customer experience and take a targeted approach when it comes to engaging customers:

  • Millennials need to feel emotionally connected to the overall shopping experience both in-store and online. They like to explore what a brand offers, and want the brand to get it to them fast.
  • Generation X is balancing careers with family, so they value efficiency. They need to know up front why a retailer’s product is what they need.
  • Baby Boomers care more about product quality and value than cost alone. Retailers must tell them why a product is worth the price.
  • The Silent Generation has a “waste not, want not” philosophy about what they buy. Retailers must appeal to their sensible nature and focus on value first.


One in five American adults holds a credit card issued by Alliance Data for one of its more than 150 brand partners, providing the company with unique insights into the shopping habits of consumers across all retail categories. The company’s Analytics and Insights Institute unites existing resources – including its vast proprietary data assets – and signifies Alliance Data’s commitment to understanding, predicting and motivating cardmember behavior on behalf of the business’s brand partners.

“We work to make brands smarter with a combination of innovative technology, rich data analysis and compelling consumer insights to reveal what customers want, when they want it and how they prefer to shop for it,” added Andrick. “This new report provides actionable insights about the generational differences that influence consumers, to help retailers better engage shoppers and drive sales.”

For more information about how Alliance Data can help brands grow sales and increase loyalty, visit


About Alliance Data’s card services business

Alliance Data’s card services business is a leading provider of tailored marketing and loyalty solutions, delivered through branded credit programs that drive more profitable relationships between our brand partners and their cardmembers. We offer private label, co-brand, and business products to many of the world's most recognizable brands across a multitude of channels.

We uphold our Know more. Sell more.® promise by leveraging unmatched customer insights, advanced analytics, and broad-reaching innovative capabilities. It's how we deliver increased sales to our partners, build enduring loyalty to their brands, and provide more value to our cardmembers. Alliance Data’s card services business is a proud part of the Alliance Data enterprise. To learn more, visit or follow us on Twitter @Know_SellMore.


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