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“Bridge Millennials” are the Shopping Demographic of Retailers’ Dreams

Baby Boomers. Gen X. Millennials. Gen Z. Just when you thought you had the generational demographics licked, PYMNTS.com has defined a new class of consumers for brands and retailers to woo.

Meet the “bridge millennials,” a cohort-spanning bracket the payments website describes as individuals “between 30 and 40 years of age who are maturing as millennials, established in their careers and setting down roots.”

Broadly moneyed and willing to experiment, this group is highly disposed to new shopping experiences, PYMNTS wrote in a report released Thursday. They also spend more money on apparel and accessories than almost any other consumer cross-section—a fact that should pique the interest of brands and retailers.

Turns out, while millennials average nearly 20 purchases each year, or about two purchases per month, they’re not big spenders. Gen Xers have—and part with—more money but shop with less frequency. Bridge millennials, PYMNTS said, hit the retail sweet spot: they shop as often as millennials and they dole out nearly as much cash as their Gen X forebears. 

Plus, they’re tech enthusiasts. Close to 5 percent of bridge millennials buy using voice assistants like Amazon Echo and Google Home—more than millennials, Gen X or boomers, the survey of 2,035 American consumers found.

Even their smartphone habits outstrip those of their younger counterparts. Roughly 17 percent of them buy apparel and accessories using mobile devices, compared with 16 percent of millennials. And roughly one-third of respondents said they browse in stores or online, then purchase their products online. Overall, 48 percent of bridge millennials prefer to shop virtually.

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The Amazon generation

It isn’t for nothing that PYMNTS refers to the bridge millennials group as the “Amazon generation”; nearly 19 percent named Amazon as their favorite merchant over retailers like Walmart, Kohl’s, Macy’s and Target. Of respondents who shop primarily online, 25 percent single out Amazon as their preferred destination.

That doesn’t mean they’re easy to please, however. Bridge millennials “will not shy from switching merchants should they feel the need,” PMNTS said. In fact, they’re more likely to have switched or tried a new merchant in the past month—30 percent admitted to doing so compared with the average 25 percent across generations.

Within this specialized cohort is an even more rarified bunch. PYMNTS noticed that the 15 percent of consumers who browse online and in-store then make their purchases in the physical realm, buy more apparel and accessories than any other group. These individuals tend to be college-educated males who earn more than $50,000 per year, and almost 40 percent them are, you guessed it, bridge millennials.

To cement their loyalty, PYMNTS recommends retailers offer them experiences that “enhance the effectiveness of their omnichannel experiences.”

Still, no matter how they’re identified, consumers as a whole just want it to be easier to buy a quality product from a retailer they trust to deliver it. In short, they want all gain, no pain. 

“That means retailers looking to win consumers’ hearts and wallets must perfect the basics, and do so in a whole new digital age,” PYMNTS said. “After all, for digital and physical channels alike, it’s all about products, value, service and trust.”