A Chair is More than a Chair: Differences in Furniture Purchasing Habits Across Generations

As we covered in our last blog post, furniture is a purchase driven by psychology. Retailers that understand customers’ motivations not only serve them better; they tap into information that can help them grow their revenue. 

But psychology is very personal, and how customers make choices often differ depending on age. From Baby Boomers to Gen Zers, each generation has purchasing habits that provide retailers with an opportunity to tailor their outreach and service according to their specific needs. First, let’s meet the unique groups.

Baby Boomers

Born between the mid ‘40s and early ‘60s, this group makes up about 20% of the U.S. population, and they are the wealthiest generation. They control 70% of the disposable income in the U.S., and 66% make regular online purchases. 

Boomers allocate 14% of their total spending to Utilities and Housekeeping, which includes household furnishings. This percentage is greater than with any other generation. Thirty-six percent buy furniture online, and nearly 20% feel as if the furniture shopping process is overwhelming. More than half of Boomers wouldn’t consider using an interior designer.

Gen X

Gen X

Born between 1965 and 1980, this generation makes up 25% of the U.S. population and  31% of the income. Many Gen Xers are still raising children, some of whom are about to go off to college. This group spends more than 34 non-work hours a week online, mostly on social media, news sites, and financial websites.

Gen Xers have a higher post-tax income than any other generation. They also spend more than the other groups, averaging $74,683 per year. Forty percent of Gen Xers buy furniture online, and 35% wouldn’t consider using an interior designer.


Born between 1981 and 1997, Millennials are the largest generation in America, recently surpassing Baby Boomers. They represent about $600 billion in purchasing power. They also have $1.56 trillion in student debt, which influences their shopping habits. 

Millennials like to research purchases online, but want to go in-store for big ticket items. They’re also jumping into home buying; 36% of all homes purchased each year are by Millennials. Nearly half of this group buys furniture online, and they spend roughly $27 billion on it each year. More than 40% prefer buying a roomful of furniture as a package, and 35% won’t consider using an interior designer.

Gen Z

Our final group, Gen Zers were born between 1998 and 2010. Digital natives, they have little or no memory of the world as it existed before smartphones. On track to be the best-educated generation, this group hasn’t yet hit their prime working years. They represent $140 billion in spending power. 

Gen Z is more likely than older generations to base their buying decisions on emotions experienced during the e-commerce process. They’re influenced by social media, and the majority wait until they have a list of wants and needs before visiting stores, usually with friends. Over half of Gen Zers feel that the furniture shopping process is overwhelming.

Shoptelligence for the Ages

Understanding the differences between generations produces a number of insights for furniture retailers. Available technology, such as Shoptelligence’s suite of solutions, can help cater to each group in the way they want to be reached and served.

Solutions for Baby Boomers

While the majority of Boomers are still in the workforce, many will begin retiring soon. Their next step can be the catalyst for moving or downsizing, both of which can spur new furniture purchases. Therefore, it’s important for retailers to cater to Baby Boomers and Shoptelligence can help in a variety of ways.

First, Boomers don’t like to buy online and won’t hire a designer, but they’re downsizing and will need to rethink the space. They also need assistance and are in a prime furniture-buying position. For this generation, the sales associate is a critical part of the buying journey.  
Site-to-Store Inspirtainment meets Boomers online while providing sales associates with the insights they need to help them decorate the room and pick up the process once they are in the store. Given their avoidance of retail tech solutions, it’s important to remember Boomers are not digitally savvy. Therefore, Email Marketing will be extremely effective with this group.


Solutions for Gen X

Gen Xers are getting ready to send kids to college and many are caring for an aging parent. Their life circumstances can impact their furniture purchasing habits, such as downsizing their parents’ house, outfitting a dorm room, or becoming empty-nesters. Given this generation’s high income levels and pending furniture purchase needs, it is prudent for retailers to cater to Generation X. Shoptelligence can help in a variety of ways. 

First, meet them where they are–online–by engaging them with the easy-to-use Interactive Ensembles. Ensembles allow Gen Xers to tap into the skills of an interior designer at no cost, which is something they’re currently reluctant to do.

Sixty percent of Gen X regularly engages with online brands, and creating an authentic, merchandise-oriented brand online with inspirations from the retailer’s catalog is a smart strategy with this generation. Shoptelligence’s Interactive Ensembles, Social Sharing, and STyle Inspiration Boards are effective solutions.

Solutions for Millennials

Interactive Ensembles

The largest generation with $600 billion in purchasing power, nearly half of Millennials buy furniture online and many like to purchase packages. Serving this group is very important for retailers, and Shoptelligence can help them do this in a few ways.

While Millennials are starting their purchase online, they like to go to the store for big purchases. The brick-and-mortar experience along with the value of a sales associate are important. Shoptelligence can help here with Site-to-Store. Further, Interactive Ensembles generate complementary furnishings to outfit an entire room, which is also important to this group.

And since Millennials start their research online, a retailer’s website must focus on delivering a customer-centric experience, personalized and geared toward discovery. Interactive Ensembles come into play here, too, allowing shoppers to tap into the skillset of an interior designer–something Millennials are interested in using but avoid due to cost.

Solutions for Gen Z

The youngest generation, Gen Zers will soon be graduating from college and entering the workforce–a pivotal furniture purchasing stage in one’s life. Due to the overwhelming tech orientation of this generation, furniture retailers will need to vary their approach to them. Luckily Shoptelligence can help.

Eighty-four percent of Gen Zers intentionally structure their shopping trips as a social activity with friends once they’ve developed a list of wants and needs. STyle Inspiration Boards can help them create lists specific to their rooms. Gen Z purchases are also influenced by social media, and our Interactive Ensembles can be shared on social media. 

And since more than half of this age group finds the furniture purchasing process to be overwhelming, Shoptelligence’s Interactive Ensembles helps reduce choice by curating an assortment for their style and room. Ensembles can also help recommend cross-category furnishings for the whole room around a single item.

Bringing it All Together

Shoptelligence’s end-to-end platform solutions can help retailers reach and engage all generations. Our platform enables all aspects of shopping digitally, including online ordering, financing, customer service, and account management. Learn first-hand how Shoptelligence can help you better serve each of your customers by scheduling a demo today


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