Generation X vs. Millennials: What Do They Want from CX?

July 15, 2019 | 3 minute read
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The Generation X vs. Millennials debate has been raging for years, as analysts and thought leaders dissect the differences in workplace habits, spending, life choices, and more. One area that’s recently been in the spotlight are generational differences in customer experience (CX) preferences. In many ways, the expectations of these two demographics converge, but there are critical differences to hone in on as you create targeted customer experience strategies.

Here’s a closer look at what the latest research tells us about serving Gen X and Millennial consumers.

Generation X vs. Millennials – A CX perspective

As Pew Research notes, Generation X consumers were born between 1965 and 1980, while Millennials were born between 1981 and 1996. As these generations mature, they’re taking on common challenges across demographics: careers, the future of work, relationships, families, health, interests, and more.

As one Forbes analysis notes, Gen X consumers spend about 1/3 more than their Millennial peers. There are subtle but interesting differences in how those dollars are spent. Take food for example: Gen X consumers spent more overall, but Millennials spent more on dining out according to Marketingcharts. The Marketingcharts data shows that from entertainment to living expenditures, Gen X puts a premium on value and quality while Millennials prioritize experiences, and that offers important clues on how to reach consumers.

Long-term relationships vs. in the moment experiences

According to Forbes, the key to connecting with Gen X is value: “Businesses find it difficult to categorize or approach Gen X from a marketing standpoint. They are among the most sophisticated and educated consumers today…They understand the meaning of value and are more likely to stay loyal to a specific brand.” By contrast, the author concludes that when connecting with Millennials, it’s important to remember that they “lean towards the experience and authenticity rather than relationships.”

CX marketers can take note. When targeting Gen X consumers, it’s important to consider loyalty programs, long-term offerings, and building a relationship over the CX lifecycle. Appealing to Millennials is more about delivering at each brand touchpoint, with pressure to reconfirm a brand’s value during every interaction.

Values matter

“The Data Digest: Millennials Call For Values-Driven Companies, But They’re Not The Only Ones Interested,” a research summary from Forrester, reveals that a company’s values and how that’s conveyed in the CX can also drive results. Millennials are particularly concerned with a company’s values, with 7 in 10 considering a company’s values when making a purchase. Generation X at 51% is more in line with the general population average of 52%. However, Gen X is showing a significant percentage increase year-of-year in considering values as a purchase criteria.

Having a clear component of your CX that’s values-driven will help you win with Millennials, but it’s increasingly effective with other generations as well.

How generations shape the B2B experience

Generation X vs. Millennials are also shaping the world of B2B customer experiences. Both generations are in the workplace, and many organizations have leaders from both. Oracle research [download required] shows that both groups are searching for B2B providers on digital channels, but with some key differences. For examples, 39% of Millennials are using RFPs, in part because they’re seeking much more custom pitches, compared with 31% of Gen X managers. Interestingly, both groups are turning to marketplaces – 31% and 29% respectively.

The difference between Generation X vs. Millennials can be small but important. Understanding these critical nuances can help you foster the kinds of investments that speak to your target audience and bring them back for more.

This content was originally published at SmarterCX by Oracle. It has been adapted for the Customer Experience blog.

Liz Alton

Liz Alton is a writer and content strategist specializing in B2B technology, digital marketing, and the customer experience. Her clients include creative agencies, Fortune 500 brands, and venture-backed startups.

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