This blog post is part of Forrester’s Holiday 2019 retail series.

Consumer shopping trends have collided with dialogue about climate change. Mentions of sustainability are growing exponentially, and more brands are committing to the environment. Retailers shine when highlighting their environmental initiatives in efforts to win over the elusive Millennial generation. But retailers, take note: Although Millennials are advocating for climate change and sustainability through online and offline buzz, their older counterparts are the ones following through with their wallet.

Forrester Analytics’ latest Consumer Technographics® data reveals that, while Millennials say they are concerned about the impact of climate change on society, Boomers are more likely to identify as environmentally conscious, believe that they are empowered to reduce their environmental impact, and proactively look for energy-efficient products to purchase:

As the 2019 holiday season heralds the biggest consumption moment of the year, retailers must be mindful of this generational distinction, because Boomers:

  • Dominate US spending. Forrester data shows that 10% of Boomers are affluent consumers with more than $1M of investable assets, compared to only 1% of Millennials. While Boomers and Gen X are poised to spend the most this holiday season, Boomers’ postponed retirements and lower debt levels allow them to build budgets for discretionary treats.
  • Fuel holiday sales by shopping in-store. Forrester’s ForecastView analysis expects in-store sales to drive 40% of spending growth this holiday season, and data shows that Boomers are already the in-store regulars: 58% of Boomers buy in brick-and-mortar stores at least weekly, compared to only 49% of Millennials.
  • Reward brands with emotional and behavioral loyalty. Millennials’ penchant for brand experimentation means they are unfazed by traditional retention tactics like loyalty programs and subscriptions; Boomers, on the other hand, are less likely to be lured away from brands that trigger positive emotions and deliver good value. Twice as many Millennials (32%) forget to use the loyalty programs they belong to as Boomers (16%), and the majority of Boomers are drawn to subscription services that save them money in the long run, compared to only four in 10 Millennials.

Retailers that are doubling down on sustainability messaging: Ensure that your narrative is not exclusive to Millennials; also, apply it to the Boomers who vote with their dollars — and have more votes to cast. Retailers that sidestep the sustainability conversation: Now is the time to establish your point of view, because values-based consumers are on the rise across product categories and consumer generations.

As the sweet mix of anticipation and hope, along with reminiscence and nostalgia, set in this holiday season, gift yourself fresh insight into younger generations without forgetting about their older counterparts. Boomers may not be loud on social media, but they make a statement in how they spend.