Bridge millennials’ rise is changing the retail ecosystem ahead of the 2019 holiday season, but their impacts will continue to be felt in the year ahead.
Bridge millennials are consumers aged 30 to 40 whose shopping and financial preferences straddle Gen X and millennial demographics. Their average income levels resemble those of Gen X consumers — whose members have had time to establish careers and build up funds — but they more closely mirror their younger counterparts in how, where and why they spend. The group also spends more than other demographics, averaging $2,225 in retail purchases per year. That is $850 higher than the baby boomers’ average and $300 higher than that of younger millennials.
These bridge millennial customers thus occupy a unique niche, as they have both strong payment preferences and the funds required to make a significant industry impact. They shop online but expect the same seamlessness in stores, for example, and are more likely than other consumer groups to switch merchants and retailers if they feel their needs are not met. Retailers that overlook this group may miss out on emerging payment trends and deeper insights into the evolution of shopping and buying habits.
The following Deep Dive explores bridge millennials’ payment habits and why retailers must pay attention to their needs.
Why bridge millennials' preferences matter
Younger millennials may be moving forward with their careers, but the generation is still not known for spending power. Some studies project Gen X and baby boomer shoppers to lead 2019 holiday spending. These generations are also more likely to shop in stores, despite eCommerce’s popularity, meaning retailers cannot entirely discount brick-and-mortar sales.
These shopping behaviors may seem odd to retailers that have been preparing for millennials’ eventual dominance over the space. That the highest-spending group still prefers brick-and-mortar retail does not connect with the steady increase in online shopping, after all. Retailers aware of bridge millennials may be able to fill in some of these knowledge gaps. The group brushes up against Gen X but far prefers to shop online, and it spearheads some of the increased spending that retailers may label as from older generations as well as much of the move to new digital shopping platforms: 48 percent of bridge millennials buy online, and 17 percent use mobile phones to make their purchases.
Bridge millennials are becoming bellwethers of shifting retail trends. Like their younger counterparts, they value mobile wallets and have an affinity for payment experiences that are affordable, convenient and seamless. Payment methods that unlock rewards or help mitigate costs in other ways are increasingly popular with bridge millennials. Such methods include branded credit cards with tailored rewards systems — as opposed to those issued by major card networks — as well as buy now pay later (BNPL) solutions, which younger customers find popular.
Millennials, as a whole, account for 40 percent of BNPL users in Australia, where the method is quickly rising. Both bridge and younger millennials are likely drawn to the pricing perks it provides and payment installments’ convenience when making more expensive or extravagant purchases — such as those made during holiday time.
Bridge millennials also overwhelmingly prefer omnichannel shopping experiences compared to other generations, so retailers not enabling them to shop seamlessly across multiple channels risk losing the group’s patronage.