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The multi-generation: Generational differences in channel activity

Amy Dorie (San Francisco State University, San Francisco, California, USA)
David Loranger (Jack Welch College of Business, Sacred Heart University, Fairfield, Connecticut, USA)

International Journal of Retail & Distribution Management

ISSN: 0959-0552

Article publication date: 8 April 2020

Issue publication date: 21 April 2020




The aim of this research is to advance the understanding of multi-channel behaviour in terms of different generational cohorts' usage and spending patterns.


Building on previous studies on multi-channel behaviour, differences in shopping channel usage and purchase amounts were investigated between baby boomers, Gen X, xennials and millennials.


There were significant differences found between the generations in terms of multi-channel behaviour regarding purchasing frequency and average purchase amounts via a) mobile phone, b) tablet, c) computer, d) social media and e) brick-and-mortar. Fewer differences were found amongst the generational cohorts in terms of amount spent per channel.

Research limitations/implications

The research was successful in analysing variances in multi-channel behaviour amongst the baby boomer, Generation X, xennial and millennial cohorts, while updating the body of literature to consider generational channel usage of mobile and social media in multi-channel retailing.

Practical implications

Marketers should consider xennials’ channel behaviour and focus on converting sales through integrated programmes based on their channel usage. Retailers should also consider millennials' heavy engagement with social media in their lives but spend lower amounts via the medium, which may be an opportunity to use this medium as a viable stand-alone channel in targeting millennials' shopping dollars.


This study updates the body of research on multi-channel behaviour by considering generation as a factor in channel usage and spend amount.



Dorie, A. and Loranger, D. (2020), "The multi-generation: Generational differences in channel activity", International Journal of Retail & Distribution Management, Vol. 48 No. 4, pp. 395-416.



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