Once upon a time, mothers knew everything best. Where to go, what to buy, how to buy it.
Well, nothing has really changed. We might now have more choice over our purchases and how we make them, yet it is way more difficult to choose. And these are the moments to look back at what our parents purchased. As a college freshman in the supermarket, you instinctively reached for specific laundry detergent. Why? Because it’s the brand your mom used since you were little. When you are about to get married, you choose the bridal registry your parents used. When your kids need a snack, your childhood favorites come out. Some brands hold a special place in our hearts, no matter how many alternatives try to entice us to become fans.
Generational preference is frequently brought up when discussing brand loyalty, especially with the rise of millennials as the main spending demographic. Yet a topic that is often overlooked, is intergenerational preferences. A sign of true loyalty is when a customer passes their preferences through generations as it shows a sign of trust that no advertisement can buy. This loyalty is particularly clear in two instances:
- The trivial purchases — like laundry detergent or toothpaste. These kinds of products do not need much thinking when purchased and serve a clear purpose. Because of this, a familiar bottle or smell can be the decisive factor of a purchasing decision.
- The “Big Life” events — like weddings or the birth of a child. These are moments that highlight the changing of the guard, and clearly present an opportunity for different generations to come together and rejoice over their favorite products.
In one word, intergenerational preference can be summarized as trustworthy. In a world filled with choice and uncertainty, products can sometimes act as reminders of stability. Intergenerational purchases, however, are not stagnant — the purchase might be the same, but the way in which it’s purchased certainly has changed. The migration of product channels has shown the strength of this intergenerational bond. Did your parents do their bridal registry online? No, yet you do. The cleaning products may be the same, but surely they weren’t delivered on the same day. Retailers are continuously innovating acquisition strategies, trying to place a gentle reminder in the hearts and minds of consumers, why their products should be the preferred choice.
Inter generational preference highlights the importance of emotions in a purchase, showcasing an almost Freudian way to go about shopping, with psychoanalyst Freud believing that childhood events greatly influence our adult lives. In this day and age, brands do not safeguard their trustworthiness and believe the only way to retain customers is through rewards programs that incentivize more spending. If brands focused more on the relational bond between their products and generations, they can transform their rewards programs to better accommodate these preferences and therefore create a loyal base of customers that truly goes above and beyond.