In marketing, besides the factors like geography, demographic characteristics and social media, customer behaviour is an essential element which should be considered and researched carefully to determine the potential customers. There are many definitions of the term “Customer behaviour”. For example, according to Ordun (2015), consumer behaviour is critical to evaluate and understand the patterns and motivates behind shopping attitude. Or according to Krishna (2014) “Consumer behaviour is a discipline that encompasses all processes involved in acquiring, using, and disposing of products, services, and ideas”. But in general customer behaviour studies support for organizations and companies in their marketing strategies to attract and understand their consumers in the fields of psychology. Consumers often belong to different generations which have unique and own characteristics. Especially, there will be a great difference in the consumer behaviour between the Millennial and Gen X in the area of leisure. In other words, the differences in the area of shopping. This paper will point out and analyse the differences in the shopping behaviour of the customer of the two generations.



1. Gen Y and Gen X:

Gen Y:

Millennials are currently aged 20 – 35, who born between 1980 and 1994. They also called the Generation Y because they follow on from Generation X (Lyons, 2016). The technological revolution that occurred in the youth has directly influenced and shaped characteristics of this generation (Waterworth, 2013).

Gen Y

Gen X

People who born between the middle 1960’s and the early 1980’s will be called Generation X or Gen X. Unlike Gen Y, this generation has been shaped by events like international politic that happened during their youth (ibid).

Gen X

Their characteristics are influenced by the changes of the world and their characteristics also contribute to change this world (Ordun, 2015). Moreover, both of Gen X and Gen Y are heavily influenced by the times which they grow up – politics, movies, culture and so on (ibid). According to Kol and Lissitsa (2016), a generation cohort will share the same ideas, beliefs as well as cultural and political experiences. In other words, generational cohorts have differences experiences which will impact on their values as well as shopping behaviour (Parment, 2013). As a result, both of Gen X and Gen Y will have similarities and differences in their shopping habits.

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This paper will focus on the similarities and differences of both generations in their shopping habits as well as analyzing the internal influences on their behavior based on the model of Schiffmann and Kanuk.Based on the model, it is easy to recognised that there are various factors that impact on the consumer behaviour such as the marketing mix, social influences and communication sources. This paper will more focus on the communication sources and then will analyze the influences of social media on the consumer behaviour of both generations.

Figure 1: Consumer Decision Making (Schiffman and Kanuk, 2015)

2. External Influences and Decision Making

Consumer decision or decision marking can be affected by the external influences like marketing mix, sociocultural influences and communication. Communication sources influences like social media or advertising are also have strongly affected on the customer behaviour. According to Lee (2013), “Social media puts consumers back to the center of business world and provides marketers a new set of tools to interact with consumers and to integrate them into the brands through innovative”. Recently, internet; website and social media grow faster which provide customer chances to make comparisons between different brands or products before they make the final decision. A website named eMarketer (2016) shows that social activities like viewing ads or purchasing products directly via social channels have also left impacts on online shopping behaviour.

Communication Sources

For instance, there are about 1.59 million Facebook users; more than four hundred million Instagram users as well as three hundred million Twitter users in all countries (Adweek, 2016). In addition, both of Gen X and Gen Y tend to use mobile phones for online shopping via website and social network (Tapbuy, 2016). As a result, media network can be seen as a huge influence on the customer behaviour (ibid). In an article, Roesler (2015) states that social media directly impacts on 1/3 of consumers in the United States in their purchases. Similarly, this article also shows that 56% of consumers buying baby products are influenced by social media, compare to the others products such as furnishings, health and wellness or automotive.

Communication Sources

3. Differences and similarities between the two generations:


Generally, Gen X and Gen Y have the same life aims such as having a better and happier life or a full time and permanent career (The University of Melbourne, 2009). In the other areas, such as leisure, they also have various similarities. Taking online shopping behaviour as an example. When online shopping, both of Gen X and Gen Y prefer using their smartphones to discover products before going into stores. In particular, some researches show that 79% of Gen Y say that they discover new products or new brands on social network via their smartphones, mainly on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter. Another research also shows that social media influences all age groups, especially on Gen Y. In particular, 47% of gen Y is influenced in their purchases by social media, compared to the other groups like gen X or Baby Boomers (Roesler, 2015). Like Gen Y, Gen X is also addicted to their smartphones and they love using their smartphones to discover new products or new brands. For instances, Gen X in the US spends about 63% of their time on their mobile phones (Tapbuy, 2016). Another similarity between Gen X and Gen Y in their shopping habits is that both of Gen X and Gen Y women are influenced by a coupon they saw on the Internet or social network when they make a purchase (Freud, 2014). As a result, it is not difficult to realise the huge impact of social media on the consumer behaviour of both generations.


As mentioned above, both of the generations prefer using social media like Facebook or Instagram for their online shopping. However, there is a small difference between these two generations is that Gen X not only prefers social media like gen Y, but they also favour emails and online search to explore new products (Tapbuy, 2016). This article also clarifies that gen X likes to research online and purchase online and they spend a lot of time on the website to learn about the products they love before going to the stores.

Another interesting difference between these generations is that gen Y is not susceptive to ads but they are open to branded messages if these messages go along with their thinking (Jerez, 2016). Gen Y, additionally, they are less brand loyal because social media offers many attractive alternatives for them Furthermore, they also want to experience and try new brands (Siddiqua, 2016). On the other hand, gen X tends to be more brand loyal because they have more experiences to explore different brands (Jerez, 2016). In addition, Siddiqua (2016) illustrates that generation X prefers showing their loyalty to a prestige and well – known brand to trying to accept a new brand. Moreover, Gen X would like to show their firm allegiance through their personality, thus; it is not easy to make them change their mind as well as their brand loyalty (ibid). Thus, Gen X is less susceptive to ads about the products although they are still pay attention to it (Jerez, 2016). In brief, although these generation prefer online shopping via social media, they certainly have some differences because of their different characteristics.


In brief, social media have a clear and effective influence on both generations as well as their consumer behaviour. Different generations have different purposes when they use social media. Thus, the more companies understand their consumer behaviour, the more chances they gain success in their business. Since understanding the different purposes of these generations will support for the marketers in drawing and planning effective marketing strategies to attract their consumers of different generations. As Al – Salamin and Al – Hassan (2016) state that most companies study customer behaviour in order that they can increase the possibility of their success. Moreover, both of these generations in general are important attributors which contribute to the success of the firm. Because each generational cohort has their own characteristics, therefore marketers should have different approaches as well as effective marketing strategies for each generation to gain the best results in their business. For example, Gen X prefers retailers provide a personalized brand experience as well as high – quality products (Lissitsa and Kol, 2016).. Meanwhile brands have to become part of lives of Gen Y, add value to their daily life and experiences in order to become a purchasing option for Gen Y (ibid). Lissitsa and Kol also state that because both of these generations prefer online shopping, marketers can focus to develop this field to see an increase in online purchasing in the foreseeable future (ibid).


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Created By
Trang Huynh Ngoc Minh


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