Key Traits That All Digital Consumers Share and How to Leverage Them

April 20, 2020 - 11 minutes read

How to make your marketing appealing across generations.


As an eCommerce business or retail brand, growing your audience is essential to the ongoing success of your business. But consumers are wildly different, and what might strike a chord with some may be meaningless to others.

Often, differing consumer behaviors are generational. Baby boomers see the world and shop in a different way to millennials, for instance. As a business, the logical thing to do is segment your marketing campaigns, going for the lion’s share of a smaller group of consumers. And while you should do this with many of your promotional efforts, there are times when you might want to make your messaging more inclusive.

Creating marketing campaigns and offering products or features with mass appeal seems impossible in today’s cutthroat digital age, but it’s not beyond reach. 

With seasonal campaigns (Valentine’s Day, Easter, Independence Day, Thanksgiving, Christmas—the list goes on), you stand to boost your profits while expanding your brand if you can appeal to a wider audience that spans generations.

How do you do that? You consider the common traits that digital consumers share and use them to create strategies that will resonate with as many people as possible.

Here, we explore the key traits that almost all consumers share and the tactics you can use to give some of your marketing campaigns a universal appeal.

Let’s start by glancing at what we mean by consumer generations.


Generation, what?


Depending on your niche or specialty, your business probably targets a specific consumer group. But if you can make a few tweaks here and there, you’re likely to attract the attention of a wider audience. You shouldn’t stop focusing on your key target audience, but it won’t hurt to get others on board.

There are countless shopper demographics. Often, these different segments of consumers fall into a certain generational category. At present, there are four primary generations of online shoppers:




  • Gen X: Born between the 1960s and early 1980s, members of Generation X aren’t digital natives, but they are more attuned to technology than your average Baby Boomer. Gen Xers are social media hungry and have a healthy level of online spending power.



  • Millennials: Born between the mid-80s and mid-90s, Millennials are the first wave of true digital natives. Influential, socially conscious, and tech-savvy, Millenials are prolific online shoppers. In fact, 67% of Millennials prefer to shop online rather than a brick and mortar store.



  • Gen Z: The newest kids on the block, this ethnically diverse group of digital consumers was born during the dawning of the digital age. Technology is engrained in the bones of Gen Zers, and this group boasts $44 billion in spending power. Find out more about them in our Gen Z marketing guide.



Leverage key consumer traits to your advantage


To create campaigns, form strategies, and develop communications that are likely to transcend generations, it’s important to look at the common ground most digital consumers share. Here, we look at four shared online shopping values or traits that you can leverage to your commercial advantage.

Driven by necessity

From Baby Boomers to Gen Zers, every consumer is driven by necessity.

While not all online purchases are a necessity in the true sense of the word (many consumer buys are impulsive or driven by want over need), online consumers across generations become motivated to shop because they think they need to buy something. Whether you’re talking about true necessity or perceived necessity, by giving consumers a solution to their problem or a direct answer to their question, you’re likely to increase your conversion rate.

Tactic: To tap into the universal necessity to shop, you should try the following approaches:

  • Create a comprehensive FAQ page on your website. Your FAQ page should answer all questions about your products or services, as well as common questions related to your niche or industry. Doing so will help you boost your Google search rankings (which will expose you to a wider shopping audience) while building trust at a time where shoppers are in their research phase.
  • Invest in email marketing. Many consumers across generations engage with branded email campaigns from eCommerce businesses. To create mass appeal, think long and hard about creating a sense of urgency with messaging that taps into the ‘necessity mindset’ that most digital consumers share. Our guide to driving revenue through email will help you get started.

Like a seamless service

Who doesn’t like a service that is convenient and fuss-free? While digitally native consumers may be more discerning when it comes to service, if you don’t provide exceptional customer experience (CX), you will not survive in the long term.

Eighty-six percent of all online shoppers are willing to pay more for an excellent customer experience. Moreover, by the end of 2020, CX will surpass price and product as the number one brand differentiator. By focusing on your customer experience efforts and activities, you will give your brand a broader appeal, growing your audience in the process.

Tactic: When it comes to improving your levels of service and CX offerings, there are a few avenues you should explore for multigenerational eCommerce success:

  • To improve your responsiveness to customer issues and service or product queries, consider investing in chatbots. These autonomous customer service bots are designed to offer swift service coupled with convenience—and they get results. Allow our rundown of inspirational chatbot strategies to demonstrate.
  • Focus on user experience (UX) design to ensure every one of your platforms and touchpoints is easy to navigate, even for those that are less tech-savvy than your average Millennial or Gen Zer. A/B testing is an effective way of making your online store as user-friendly as possible.
  • Get to know your customers’ behaviors better by drilling down into the right data and metrics.
  • Create a CX strategy, using our step-by-step customer experience guide for reference.

Possess emotion

Unlike robots, human beings possess emotions. While everyone displays or processes their emotions differently, we all have them, regardless of our preferences or consumer groups.

When a video, article, advert, or marketing campaign taps directly into a particular human emotion, it often sparks engagement. When digital consumers share a common emotion in response to marketing communication, they’re more likely to share it with others.

Studies suggest that campaigns with emotional content perform twice as well as those with rational content.

Tactic: The next time you’re creating a marketing campaign for your online retail brand, you should focus on delivering an emotionally-driven message that is inclusive and universal. Focus on the primary goal of your emotional marketing campaign (for example, do you want to prompt laughter, make your audience shed tears, or create a real sense of empathy?) and let this be your creative guide.

Take this campaign from IBM Watson, for instance. One of the world’s leading B2B AI technologies, IBM wanted to bring what is considered a dry topic to life by tapping into the universal emotional trigger of laughter: 

This video featuring prolific author Stephen King is an example of the accessible, humorous approach the brand took towards its Watson marketing campaign. The campaign generated a wealth of engagement, earning a total of 30 million collective video views.

Enjoy value

Young or old, conservative or liberal, sporty or techy, online shoppers like getting value for their money.

Around 93% of shoppers use coupons or discount codes all year round. By offering incentives or bonuses, you stand to increase your sales by up to 73%.

Tactic: Here are some top eCommerce tips to help you win with consumer deals and discounts:

  • Offer free shipping, particularly during last-minute periods during events, including Valentine’s and Christmas.
  • Incentivize your existing customers by offering referral awards, discounts, or bonuses.
  • Give repeat purchasers access to loyalty deals and discount codes.
  • Create different offers for different channels or touchpoints (email, social media, mobile app, website, etc.).
  • Tighten up your eCommerce pricing strategies with this valuable resource.

For more business-boosting insights, here are five eCommerce trends you should watch out for in 2020.