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October 15, 2018

How Do Demographics Affect Online Buying Behavior?

Digital marketing is not one-size-fits-all – research has shown that demographics have a substantial impact on online buying behavior. Whether considering search behavior, social media activity or email engagement, your audiences may vary substantially based on gender and age.

Before you determine what channels to use and how to craft your messaging, consider these demographic differences when creating your digital marketing strategy:

Gender-based differences

Anyone who’s gone to Target with a member of the opposite sex knows that men and women have starkly different purchase behaviors. So why would we assume that men and women have similar online purchasing behaviors?

It doesn’t matter if you’re selling inexpensive products to consumers online or enterprise-level solutions to executives in the c-suite, basic gender differences still influence how your prospects research and make decisions.

Online Buying Behavior of Men:

  • Follow a utilitarian, logic-based approach
  • Have a stronger preference for text platforms and forums
  • More likely than women to use their social media accounts for business reasons
  • More likely to ignore social media ads

Marketing messages need to get to the point quickly, focus on the product or service, and use active statements that demonstrate value.

Online Buying Behavior of Women:

  • Use all social media channels and are more likely to interact with brands on these platforms
  • Spend more time on visual platforms than men; they represent the majority of users on Pinterest and a high percentage of users on Instagram, and they’re a little less likely to use LinkedIn
  • Browse – women spend more time collecting information and comparing options

Women make or contribute to 85% of all purchase decisions, even decisions for products or services that have traditionally been marketed more toward men. However, marketers in some segments have been slow to recognize and respond appropriately to that fact. For example, female drivers outnumber men, but 75% of women say they feel car marketers just don’t understand them.

Generational differences

An effective digital campaign isn’t just about crafting a different message for men vs women. Generational differences influence online behavior and purchasing patterns as well. A recent study of more than 1,000 consumers revealed several generational trends in online shopping behavior:

Millennials Online Buying Behavior

For Millennials (ages 22 to 37), marketers may be surprised to learn that email performs surprisingly well.

Millennials also have a strong preference for Facebook compared to other social media platforms. They’re more likely to complete a transaction online than their older counterparts, and they’re frequent purchasers on Amazon.

Gen-X Online Buying Behavior

Similar to Millennials, Gen-Xers (ages 38 to 52) also respond to email in their decision-making processes. Seventy-seven percent of Gen-X shoppers have made a purchase as the result of an email – only 6% fewer than Millennials. These audiences are most actively checking their email in the morning and evening.

While many presume social media is less influential on Gen-Xers than younger audiences, 58% of Gen-Xers report being influenced by social media in their shopping decisions. However, Snapchat is particularly unpopular with this generation.

Baby Boomer Online Buying Behavior

While email plays an important role in Baby Boomers’ shopping journey, only 62% of Boomers reported recently making a purchase as a result of an email. Interestingly, Baby Boomers (ages 53 to 71) indicated less interest in the actual content of the email, with 32% reporting no influence on buying decisions from email content.

Additionally, Boomers rank as the least interested in social media for shopping when compared to Millennials and Gen-Xers. They also report the lowest number to have recently made a purchase from Amazon at 54%. This generation is also less likely than younger generations to complete a purchase on a mobile device unless it’s on a highly trusted site.

After identifying the key demographic behaviors of your target audience, the next step to crafting a smart digital marketing strategy is to determine which tactics to use.

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online buying behavior

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