An Analysis of Customer Behaviour between China’s Millennials and Baby Boomers in LeisurE

Zheng Liu 16623654
1. Introduction

The leisure industry attracts people from a range of demographics due to its wide selection of products and services, therefore, it is important to study the behaviour patterns of customers of different generations. This paper focuses on the millennial cohort born in the middle and late 1980s and baby boomer generation born in early 1960s in China (Hung et al, 2007). This paper will conduct a detailed analysis of the distinct similarities and differences of these customers following the AIDA model and attempt to determine sensible directions for market segmentation planning and activities for leisure products and services based on these findings.

Generation Y (Millennials) & Baby Boomers

2. Macro Environment Analysis

2.1 The Difference in Availability of Leisure Products for Baby Boomers and MillennialS

Economy has always been a key factor in setting the tone of the customers’ power, buying power and habits. It is concerned with the social and economic impacts of the time that purchasing and consumption behaviour have on consumers (Kuester, 2012). In the early 1960s, China’s GPD was 115 billion RMB and the majority of the population lived in rural areas and laboured on farms to earn their livelihoods (Lin et al, 2003). The idea of leisure and its related products and services, such as recreation, entertainment and touring, were extremely rare and, therefore, foreign to most.

Following the opening-up policy, the economy changed significantly and rapidly developed. A market-oriented economy was inaugurated in 1978 under the socialist system and adult baby boomers witnessed the prosperity of the leisure market and its various products and services, such as game gadgets, sportswear, entertainment and tourism. Consequently, millennials were born and raised in substantially improved circumstances with easy access to a wide range of leisure activities and this has only increased as people’s incomes have grown.

The development of Chinese Leisure Industry

2.2 The Education Status Difference of Baby Boomers and Millennials

Another distinct disparity in terms of social upbringing is the education they receive. Most baby boomers received less than the standard compulsory education and a significant proportion barely completed primary school while many women received no education at all (Bauer et al, 1992). The higher education rates of the baby boomer generation are even lower and only 280,000 new students enrolled in tertiary education in 1980 (Davin, 1991); as opposed to the 6 million undergraduates in 2010 and a growing number of young students who choose to leave the country for college education (Chen, 2014). Globalisation has had a much greater effect on millennials and baby boomers are comparatively less susceptible to global brands.

Schools and Students in China
3. AIDA Model Analysis

AIDA stands for Attention, Interest, Desire and Action. This acronym is used by marketers and advertisers to develop a marketing communication strategy (Lewis, 1899).

AIDA Model (Lewis, 1899)

3.1 Awareness Process in AIDA Model Analysis

As the first process, the importance of making people aware and catching their attention is obvious (Lewis, 1908). The leisure industry makes a substantial effort to reach out to both generations to encourage purchase behaviour. Take tourism for example, it has become a popular service which appeals to both the young and the old. The early activities of tourism services are spreading their advertising by placing posters in public venues, distributing flyers on the streets and setting up offices in locations that people can easily access for consultations. This store-office method remains to this day and still serves advertising purposes effectively by catching potential customers attention and providing quick and easy access to their services.

What’s slightly different with millennials is that younger travellers use the internet to find information. Tourism services have risen to the occasion by developing a comprehensive online presence which includes detailed itineraries and prices. Millennials prefer acquiring service information from the ease and comfort of their own homes or offices; eliminating the hassle of physically going outdoors.

Another example of the leisure industry achieving awareness is in recreational industries such as karaoke, massage and concerts. The main advertising media for these services is the internet or smart phone apps and very little publicity is generated posters and flyers. The internet is the dominant source of media for today’s youth. This is also where the idea of digital marketing comes in, and its campaigns are becoming more prevalent and efficient in steering buyers-to-be in their direction (Dahlén et al, 2010).

3.2 Interest Process in AIDA model analysis

Once potential customers are made aware of the available leisure products and services, interested customers will be attracted in different ways. Still taking the example of tourism; as baby boomers age and enter retirement, a two-day outing with friends and family members in scenic new places out of their slowed-down day-to-day routine would feel just right and delightful. It offers refreshing new scenery and local customs, and an opportunity to strengthen their relationships with old friends and communicate with new ones. In the same way, it captures millennials’ attention by advocating a fashionable lifestyle and encouraging people’s curiosity about famous sights and their desire to experience them first hand.

Millennials are more prone to seek customised offers, such as partial service like hotel bookings only or airplane tickets only to accommodate their need for more freedom and liberty when travels. However, the baby boomers prefer to select from a list of pre-prepared menus and comply with established plans. In addition, baby boomers and millennials favour different categories of recreational products and services due to their intrinsically different needs. For example, millennials may frequently hit the gym, beauty store and karaoke and are less interested in spas and massages; while the older generation enjoys concerts a great deal more than work-outs, singing and bar hopping.

Interest Diferences between Millennials and Baby Boomers


Desire is the part where consumers are converted from "liking it" to "wanting it" before the final action of purchase (Hanlon, 2017). Unlike necessary products, for which this process does not play much of a role, leisure products and services need to cinch that emotional connection with customers to generate that desire in them.

The leisure industry commonly approaches this aspect by involving elements that the customers can relate to or identify with. For example, millennials are more likely to purchase tickets to movies or concerts when they involve pop-culture stars or use them as mouthpieces for their products and services. Statistics have also shown that effective advertising through the press creates awareness and a "buzz" that produces desire in both millennials and baby boomers (Fernandez, 2009).

The study of consumer behaviour found that consumers are influenced by their family, friends, sports teams, reference groups, and society in general (Kahle & Close, 2011). Millennials, with their access to the online social network, often experience desires conjured up by various media like WeChat and Weibo (like Twitter and Instagram). This happens much less with baby boomers whose desire-arousal relies on recommendations by their family and friends. Many leisure brands have a presence on social networks in order in fuel the consumers’ desire with a 24-hour online service which is primarily targeted at millennials.

3.4 Action Process analysis in AIDA model analysis

After the previous steps filter out the probable customers, the last process was reached in securing the deal. As consumers approach the actual purchase decision, they are more likely to rely on personal sources of information (Srinivasan, 2011). Customers are often found to follow the calling of marketing tactics of, “scarcity attraction”, “social proof” or simply impulses. It is noteworthy that the baby boomers have shown discreet attitudes towards leisure spending even in much improved economic circumstances, which is massively less manifested in their millennial offspring.

Sproles and Kendall (1986) developed a consumer style inventory consisting of eight factors, including price-sensitivity, quality-consciousness, and brand-consciousness, novelty-seeking and so on. Broadly speaking, baby boomers fit into the price and quality-sensitive sectors while millennials are much keener on the fashion and brand elements. In addition, in the physical act of purchasing, while traditionally dominant forms for the final action are shops and cash or credit card; for most millennials, there are the added options of online order placement and on-line, which are practiced by a far smaller portion of baby boomers. Some believe the reason for the popularity of online shopping and payment is that millennials are more tech-savvy due to exposure to the applications of advanced technology since a young age.

4. Conclusion

It is important to note that not every purchase by millennials and baby boomers follows the pattern revealed by the AIDA analysis. In some cases, AIA can happen with customers of more explorative dispositions, or, a simple ADA may occur in situations where certain leisure products resemble necessary items. While baby boomers and millennials share a significant number of behaviour patterns, marketing strategies such as segmentation are indispensable due to the vast differences discussed and analysed in this paper. Marketers will put considerable effort into differentiation in this regard.

5. References

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Created with images by Unsplash - "tricycle red childhood" • Pexels - "beach family fun" • Unsplash - "boats water motor" • Pexels - "blur bokeh book" • spondypitti - "leisure beverages drink" • Pexels - "beach building coast" • Pexels - "beach clouds coast" • Pexels - "adventure automobile car" • Unsplash - "seaside seashore seagull"

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