Travel Consumer Bahaviour of Baby Boomers and Millennial Generations Xuetong Wang

1. introduction

In recent years, more and more scholars pay attention to the research on consumer behaviour in different areas as well as in travel area. Some scholars believe that consumer behaviour is influenced by values. For instance, Feather (1996) stated that the consumer behaviour is influenced by values of the consumer.

Some researchers take the view that consumer behaviour is closely linked with needs and desires. For example, Gilbert (1991) held the view that travel consumption behaviour is for the satisfaction of needs and desires of the traveler. Age is recognized as one of the important factors that influence the consumer behaviour. In 2006, the Tourism Industry Association (TIA) issued a report (2006, 8) claiming that generation cohort is the most common and effective way to distinguish between the population, not only because of the universality of age, but more importantly because of the common experience to form their lives.One generation cohort has the similar consumer behaviour to some extent. Because they have approximately the same life cycle, social activities and external impact that would affect them, thereby these factors make one generation have the similar social experiences as well as build the core value (Cleaver et al, 2000).

Generational differences are applied in consumer behaviour research extensively. Demographer and marketer point out members of one particular generation may have different personalities, but they may share a wide range of similar characteristics (Mitchell, 2003).

There is no doubt that consumer behaviour is influence by many internal and external factors including values of life and world, education background, personal experience, conditions of economy and other social and cultural factors. It is also recognized that different generations may have different consumer behaviour while at the same time they may share some similarities. This presentation aims to compare the consumer behaviour in travel of two generations, namely baby boomer generation and Millennial generation.

Baby boomer generation

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Baby boomer generation is defined as people born between 1946 to 1964, who experienced many social and economic changes (Solomon et al, 2013,494). They account for approximate 30% of American population (Chen and Shoemaker, 2014,58). They are a generation after World War II (Cleaver et al, 2000, 274). Baby boomer generation in America is a rich generation. They are healthy and wealthy compared with previous generation. According to Guo’s (2015) report, baby boomer generation possesses 75% of wealth of the United States. Therefore, baby boomer generation are known as “the richest old people in history”.

Millennial generation

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Millennial generation refers to people who were born during the period from 1982 to 1995. Some scholars use Generation Y to define this generation cohort. The main features of the generation are: autonomy and independence in value; open communication; action-oriented perspective for work; seeking solutions for problems; unbelief in contribution; the pursuit of obtaining skills and professional knowledge; loyalty to the individuality without long-term loyalty to the collective; advocating the balance between work and life goals; looking for common movement; unwillingness to play a leadership role (Jorgensen, 2003).

The comparison between the two generations in travel consumer behaviour will be carried out with the model established by Mothersbaugh and Hawkins. Both the differences and similarities in consumer behaviour are examined in the study.

2. Theoretical framework

Consumer Behaviour Theory

Solomon (2016) identified consumer behaviour as the study of the process involving people’s choice, purchase, use or dispose of products, services, ideas or experiences to meet the demands. The consumer behaviour model established by Mothersbaugh and Hawkins (figure 1) is applied in this paper to analyze baby boomer generation and millennial generation in travel area.

Figure1 consumer behaviour model

This model indicates that consumers are influenced by internal factor (personality, attitudes and memory) and external factor (culture, family and social) during the decision process. Then, people have their own self-concept and lifestyle. Desires and needs were produced by these lifestyle and self-concept (Mothersbaugh and Hawkins, 2010, 26-27).

Intergenerational difference Theory

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The intergenerational difference theory was proposed by German sociologist Karl Mannheim in 1950s. He thought different birth years and growth background lead to different values, attitude, preferences and behaviour among each generation cohort (Wey Smoal, 2002).

3. Differences between Baby boomer generation and Millennial generation

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trip information resource and booking aspects

In trip information resource and booking aspects, baby boomer generation and millennial generation have a great difference. Millennial generation prefers to use smartphone to book trips and use social media to review destination. Millennials are more influenced by internet than baby boomers. For instance, the Travelpluse website (2015) after an analysis of American tourists’ consumption bahaviour found that approximate 90% of millennial generation book trips online and 87% of them use online travel agencies, while only 50% of baby boomer generation use online travel booking. Accompanied by the development of science and technology, people of the millennial generation grow up in the information age. Mobile technology has a great impact on their consumer behaviour. They get used to dealing things with a smartphone.

Destination selection aspect

In destination selection aspect, baby boomer generation and millennial generation show different motivations. Baby boomer generation is more likely to travel in their home countries. AARP (2015) reported that baby boomer generation took 44% of all domestic travels.

They often choose big city, beach and warmer place as destinations such as Florida, Las Vegas, California and Hawaii (AARP, 2015). Compared with baby boomer generation, international trip is more popular to the young. Tokyo, Buenos Aries and Rio are popular destinations for millennial generation (Grouptoday, 2017).

Compared with baby boomer generation, international trip is more popular to the young. Tokyo, Buenos Aries and Rio are popular destinations for millennial generation (Grouptoday, 2017).

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Different motivations lead to different destination selecting. Baby boomer generation mainly travel for fun and enjoyment. They have more free time to travel after retirement. Moreover, they also want to relax and feel younger. 99% of baby boomer generation expected to have a leisure trip in 2016(AARP, 2015). For millennial generation, travel is a good way to expand their horizon and enrich foreign experience (Grouoptoday, 2017).

According to MMGY (2015) reports, baby boomer generation have trips for seeing beautiful scenery, having enough time to relax. Millennial generation emphasize more on having an opportunity to eat different dishes and experience the location culture (Figure 2).

Trip type aspect

In trip type aspect, baby boomer generation people are different from the younger. Baby boomer like bucket list trip, multi-generation trip and summer vacation trip best, while romance gateway trip is the first choice to millennials. The consequence indicates that baby boomer generation and millennial generation have different motivations. Baby boomer trip for bucket list, about one fourth of them make travel plan for “trip-of-a-lifetime” and they want to spent time with their families; but the younger want to have a trip to find love (AARP, 2017b).

Top trip types- by generation (AARP, 2016,17)
Trip cost aspect

In trip cost aspect, millennial generation are more influenced by trip budget and air fares compared with baby boomer generation. It is calculated that 65% of millennial generation like to make budget for trips; while only 42% of baby boomer generation will set a trip budget (AARP, 2016,30). This is caused by different levels of income. Baby boomer generation accumulate a lot of wealth, on the other hand, most of baby boomer generation are retired, so they have more freedom and flexibility to select tourism products. Millennial generation are still working or going to college. So their freedom and flexibility are relatively limited.

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4. Similarities between Baby boomer generation and Millennial generation

1. Both generations prefer to choose the most popular scenit spots for travel; 2. Both generations want to spend as less money as possible to see as many places as possible; 3. Both generations like to travel with somebody, either their family or friends. 4. Both generations are willing to have a trip. Because, nowadays travel is a crucial way of leisure.

5. Conclusion

This presentation focuses on consumer decision-making of baby boomer generation and millennial generation, thereby to compare the differences and similarities of the two generation cohorts. Decision-making process of consumers is influenced by both external factors and external factors. External factors include trip information resource, social-economic status and demographic; external factors are travel motivation, attitude and preference of trip type. In addition, from the intergeneration theory perspective, social-economic status impact consumer behaviour of a generation. In other words, people who are born in same generation will have similar consumer behavior (Valkeneers and Vanhoomissen, 2012).

The consumer behavior in tourism area is a process, which is included in a complete process of behavioral process. This process system consists of decision-making process, spatial flow behavior, evaluation of tourism consumption effect and consumption characteristics reflected in this process Constitute. Using the behavior system of tourists' behavior theory to analyze the consumption behavior of tourists in selected areas, it can find out the concrete behavior tendency of tourists in the process of consumption, and make reasonable tourism to local tourism decision-making departments and management departments. Development policy plays an important role.

Created By
Xuetong Wang


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