Brand Strategy

Balancing Purposeful Purchasing Across the Generations

Consumers across generations increasingly prefer brands with a strong purpose-driven or values-based message, but does preference drive purchase?

Research has consistently shown that younger consumers are more likely to prefer and choose companies and products that have a strong purpose-driven or values-based message. Beyond Gen Z and Millennials, Gen X and Baby Boomers are weighing transparency and sustainability (including labour, environment, and DE&I) now more than ever. Yet, brand purpose isn’t driving purchase with older generations in the same way as younger Canadians.

According to a survey of nearly 600 consumers from Age of Majority’s Revolutionary 55 Insights Community, price and availability are the top two most important attributes for those over 55 when making a purchase. Although “company values” do rank as an attribute, it was not the most important consideration.

Younger generations have grown up in a world of advertising and marketing that emphasizes brand purpose and transparency, with purchase decisions increasingly influenced by the perception of shared values with brands and companies. However, despite increased interest and demand for products and brands that align with a consumer’s set of values, price and availability do reign supreme as the most consequential factors for Canadian consumers.

Inflation and supply chain shortages that crop up across categories will serve to reinforce the importance of price and availability as top purchase factors, but purposeful shopping is not a trend that is reversing course. Brands and companies with a purpose-driven or values-based message will only be sought out more in the days ahead by Canadian consumers of all generations – it’s not just Millennials and Gen Z who want to feel good about their purchasing decisions.

I’m having regular conversations with my in-laws and parents about the cost of food and how they have to plan and budget groceries in a way they’ve never had to before. Although inflation is a new experience for millennials, it’s touching its highest level since 1991, when boomers were roughly the same age as millennials are now. This is leading to increased interest in loyalty programs and discount shopping because everyone, including older and younger shoppers, are looking for easy ways to save bucks.

It seems there are more checkboxes we consider these days. Price is huge, but not the only factor; value for money, if a product is healthy, has sustainable packaging, maybe locally produced – the list could go on. Products need to meet several criteria for it to make the grocery list.

– Christina, Client Service Manager

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Harbinger is a Toronto-based North American marketing agency with expertise in product launches. We help brands get noticed and purchased.


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