Purchase Behavior of G.I. Generation and The Silent Generation

Last week Imprint Engine’s blog focused on the purchase behavior of Baby Boomers. The last two generations we will be covering are the G.I. generation and The Silent Generation. The reason we have lumped these generations together is that a majority of their purchase behaviors are identical.

Consumer Insights of Baby Boomers

The G.I. or Greatest generation’s date range is from 1901-1924, this generation is well known for growing up during the great depression and many are veterans from World War II. The Silent generation’s, also known as the lucky few, dates range from 1925 to 1942, this generation also has plenty of veterans from the Korean and Vietnam wars.

Both of these generations grew up in a home where the father was likely to be the sole income. Most women did not have a post-secondary education, and the large majority were the domestic head of the house. These generations of women helped fill positions at factories during World War II, The Korean War, and The Vietnam War. They also worked as nurses and triage within the Wars.

A majority of our first generation grew up incredibly poor due to the issues around The Great Depression. Most of the Silent generation did not reach the high incomes that Baby Boomers and Generation X have. Due to the widespread poverty, things other generations consider necessities, or easy to afford entertainment, were a luxury.

Things like the Nickelodeon movies of those days were entertainment that the poor could afford, with many families going to these movies, then getting at hamburger and fries afterward. These were the distractions that those without high paying jobs could supply for their families.

Because of the poverty these two generations grew up in, a majority are fairly frugal, only purchasing necessities and small luxuries. They prefer a practical approach to advertising and respond better to advertisements showing traditional values. Advertisements that are closer to what they grew up with will have a better response with their demographic.

Like Baby Boomers, both the G.I. and Silent generations prefer brand names. Due to the decades of radio and TV in the home, we have attributed this behavior to the repetitive nature of older commercials that shaped their preferences.

New companies will have a difficult time gaining consumers from this demographic due to decades-long brand loyalty. Well established brands tend to perform well in these age groups.

One way to target this market, if you are a new product, is to help solve a problem they have. For instance, Campbell’s soup may be difficult for them to open, creating packaging on your soup for easy access may gain you consumers that struggle with arthritis.

These two generations tend to have less digital experience and have not adopted new technologies at a rapid rate. The younger end of the spectrum may have computers and tablets, but smartphones are few and far between in these generations. Younger generations have the task of teaching elders how to use new technology.

The adoption of the internet and e-commerce, in particular, is slow moving in these generations and they are considered laggards in adoption terms. Trust of technology is low and if you have not grown up with digital influences, it is incredibly difficult to learn.

I can’t count the number of times I have had to help out the older generations in my family, with new technologies. In my experience, they use tablets and computers to hop on Facebook in order to keep in touch with family and friends. The ones I know also play app games, frequenting the crosswords and puzzles sections of the App Store.

Of all the generations we have covered these two generations prefer to shop in store for purchases such as clothing, groceries, and electronics. However, they may also shop by proxy, allowing younger generations to do their shopping for them.

These generations typically view the news both in standard TV format or on the radio. Views on politics and social issues of these two generations tend to be conservative in nature as we saw the results when they came out in droves for the last election.

They may not have quite as much confirmation bias due to their news sources. Other than a few channels on each medium, news channels report facts, with the opinion based shows clearing stating they are opinion based. However, it is human nature to be set in our ways of thinking, based on our upbringing.

TV and radio are also where these generations gather for their entertainment. Cable, satellite, and network TV are the mediums used to watch their favorite shows, news, or even listen to music. Advertising during traditional entertainment, sports, and game shows will be an effective way to reach this audience.

G.I. and the Silent Generation prefer products that are practical and solve a problem they have. They are typically retired, although some of the younger ones prefer to keep working. Unlike the Baby Boomers, they purchase what is needed, and do not purchase as many luxuries for themselves. However, they do like to purchase luxuries and want type items for loved ones in their lives.

When marketing to the G.I. or Silent generations remember to keeping your message traditional to appeal to them. Having an ad that “swears” or is lascivious in nature will likely turn them off. Focus your marketing on places they gather, such as network TV, news outlets, and within their local market.

If you are interested in reaching G.I. or Silent generation through a comprehensive branding strategy, please Contact Us. For more information on the services, we can provide, visit Our Services.

If you are looking to market to any of the younger generations please visit our past blogs:
Purchase Behavior of Generation Z
Purchase Behavior of Millennials
Purchase Behavior of Gen X
Purchase Behavior of Baby Boomers