Generational payment methods: How Gen Z, millennials, and boomers compare

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Knowing your target audience is more important than ever for today’s businesses facing new payment technologies, evolving consumer preferences, and a global pandemic. Understanding generational payment methods is key to future-proofing your organization.

Tracking payment preferences across generations can provide valuable insights and help businesses navigate an omnicommerce marketplace that blends online and in-person experiences.

By identifying the similarities as well as the differences among consumers’ buying habits and payment preferences across generations and across countries, businesses can implement the payment solutions and strategies that help drive long-term success.

New research reveals the payment preferences, financial attitudes, and spending habits of different generations of consumers around the world. We surveyed more than 15,000 consumers in 15 different countries across five generations: Gen Z (18-23 years old), millennials (24-39 years old), Gen X (40-54 years old), baby boomers (55-73 years old), and beyond boomers (74+ years old).

The data paint a fascinating picture of generational payment trends worldwide. Those who think they already have a good understanding of their customers’ shopping and payment preferences may be surprised by some of the findings.

Generational payment methods: How do different generations pay around the world?

  1. Millennials in Latin American love loyalty programs.
    Ninety-one percent of millennials in Brazil and 90% of that generation in Argentina say merchants can earn their business by offering a loyalty program. The percentage is even higher in Mexico, at 95%. In the US, beyond boomers are the most likely generation to shop with retailers that offer loyalty programs.
  2. Nearly seven in ten Gen Z consumers in the US are interested in paying with a microchip that’s embedded in their hand.
    In the US, 67% of Gen Z would like to check out this payment type. Globally, interest in microchip payment technology isn’t limited to younger generations. In Argentina, 10% of baby boomers would be willing to try it, as would 10% of beyond boomers in Canada.
  3. In Brazil, consumers across all generations are big fans of digital wallets.
    Digital wallets are tops in Brazil, used by 37% of Gen Z, 46% of millennials, 40% of Gen X and 35% of baby boomers. Digital wallets are also popular across consumer generations in Columbia, where 36% of Gen Z, 48% of Millennials, 37% of Gen X, and 23% of Baby Boomers make payments with their mobile or digital wallet.
  4. Australia’s younger set isn’t interested in social media purchasing.
    Only 22% of Gen Z in Australia actively make purchases on social media. In the US, Gen X is more likely to make a purchase through social media than Gen Z or millennials, but they aren’t always interested in what’s offered.
  5. Nearly half of US consumers across all generations say that COVID-19 has had no impact on their payment preferences.
    While it’s become more important for businesses to accept contactless payments from their customers, 47% of Americans say COVID-19 hasn’t impacted how they choose to pay. However, what they’re buying and from whom has changed: 58% order more restaurant take-out and 42% are frequenting more local and independent small businesses.

Generational payment methods reveal opportunities

From Gen Z to beyond boomers, every generation has its own preferences for shopping and paying. Rather than being distinct from one another, the preferences often overlap.

A deep understanding of the way different generations around the world prefer to shop and pay can give businesses valuable insights into the payment strategies and solutions that can open up more revenue opportunities.

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Patrick Ashton

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