The NPD Group Inc. has partnered with the Wharton School’s Baker Retailing Center on a study analyzing purchasing behavior of millennials, generation X and boomers. The partnership combines insight by the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania’s Baker Retailing Center and NPD Group’s Checkout Tracking data to address retailers' demand for comprehensive profiles of consumer buying behavior.

“One of the interesting findings is about gift cards,” said Denise Dahlhoff, research director at the Wharton School’s Baker Retailing Center. “We found that the share of millennials’ spending on gift cards at mass merchants, convenience stores, and warehouse clubs is higher than that of other age segments.”

The research shows distinct differences in purchasing patterns across age groups.

For example, younger millennials, defined as 18- to 24- year-old consumers, share an affinity online for brands such as Apple and GrubHub. When shopping online, older millennials (ages 25 to 34) spend relatively more through Seamless, a foodservice delivery app. The online shopping habits of boomers, defined as consumers between the ages of 45 and 64, seem to be influenced by their offline preferences.

“While we can point to key similarities in purchase behavior by generation, there are also distinct purchasing differences within generations. Generation, life stage and emerging technology all come together to influence buying decisions. Understanding how they work together can help retailers to connect more effectively with their existing customer base and win new customers,” said Andy Mantis, EVP, Checkout Tracking for The NPD Group.

Checkout Tracking is the first service that provides detailed information on consumer buying behavior at the market basket level, based on receipts for both online and brick-and-mortar retail purchases from the same individuals over time. The service delivers precise category, brand and item-level purchase detail linked to buyers and their demographics.