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Eve Padula

Are You Talking About MY Generation?

Recent research reveals that consumers’ communication preferences often vary by age

Feb 17, 2023 11:00:46 AM


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In the words of Ben Franklin, “The only things certain in life are death and taxes.” Personally, I’d be comfortable adding bills and statements to that list of certainties. If you’re consistently interacting with a business, transactional documents like bills and statements are inevitable. Providers of transactional communications must communicate with their existing customers on a regular basis, but ensuring that these bills and statements are delivered via a consumer’s preferred channels is crucial to a positive customer experience.


Of course, this situation is complicated by the fact that different consumers want different things. There is certainly no “one size fits all” approach when it comes to consumer preferences, but the good news is that predictable patterns can often emerge based on demographics. Specifically, our most recent transactional communications research confirms that customers’ communication preferences will sometimes align based on age and generation. 


People are often shaped by the major life events or milestones that they encounter as members of a specific generation. There’s no question that growing up today is drastically different than it was a generation or two ago. While all people are individuals and there are exceptions to every rule, consumers will sometimes display identifiable behavioral patterns based on their age and life stage.


Earlier this month, Keypoint Intelligence published an analysis outlining how generation affected consumers’ typical communication preferences. Based on Keypoint Intelligence’s transactional communications survey, this document offers a side-by-side comparison of the various age groups to pinpoint differences—or even similarities—by generation. It also includes generational personas as an appendix to offer providers of transactional communications some rough guidelines for what a typical consumer in each age group might look like.


For the purposes of this document, the specific generational breakouts are identified in the chart below.


The Generations Defined


Although some might assume that younger consumers are all about digital communications and their older counterparts are all about print, our survey confirms that expectations are not always aligned with reality. There are cases where printed bills and statements are welcomed or preferred, even among younger consumers. Conversely, older consumers may be quite open to interacting with digital communications in certain situations. For example:

  • Consumers of all ages still like print. When respondents who received multiple versions of the same communications were asked why they chose to do this, the greatest percentage reported that they simply liked having access to print and digital versions of their bills and statements. It is interesting to note that Millennials and Gen Z were markedly more likely to feel this way than their older counterparts.
  • When respondents were asked about the factors that contributed to their decision to review a piece of direct mail, some interesting trends emerged by age. Baby Boomers were most likely to pay attention to direct mail that featured a product or company they were interested in. Younger consumers considered this a key factor too, but personalization really made direct mail stand out for them. In relation to their older counterparts, Gen Z and Millennials were also more likely to notice graphics/colors, paper/packaging, and QR codes on their direct mail.


Printed and mailed transactional communications continue to play a vital role in today’s world. Most consumers, regardless of age, still receive paper versions of at least some of their transactional communications. Ongoing governmental regulations and increasing concerns about security, privacy, and data breaches will likely fuel the desire for paper for quite some time.


Although consumers of certain ages behave in expected ways in some cases, there are times where our most recent survey results were a bit surprising. Not surprisingly, younger consumers were using digital channels more frequently…but they were also more likely to make a purchase based on a direct mail piece than their older counterparts.


In today’s evolving industry, it’s more important than ever for providers to reach consumers via their desired channels. Demographic differences can certainly serve as rough guidelines, but today’s consumers simply can’t be put into a box. Providers of transactional communications must learn and acknowledge their customers’ unique preferences regardless of age because offering a truly personalized experience is the best way to foster loyalty and encourage engagement.


Subscribers can log in to the InfoCenter to view the full report (Transactional Communications for the Ages) through Keypoint Intelligence’s Customer Communications Advisory Service, along with additional data from our most recent Transactional Communications studies (business and consumer). If you’re not a subscriber click here to download a brief overview of our analysis or send us an email at sales@keypointintelligence.com for more information.