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Generational differences might play a larger role in attitudes toward digital innovations than company executives originally thought, according to research [pdf] from the IBM Institute for Business Value. Indeed, the data highlights Baby Boomers’ relative lack of interest in embracing new initiatives compared to younger age groups.

The majority of Millennials (64%) said they are excited to see how companies will use digital CX technologies, compared with 48% of Gen Xers and only 39% of Baby Boomers. That apathy shows up in a number of areas where consumers are familiar with CX initiatives but not interested in trying them: for example, among Baby Boomers who said that they’re familiar with the concept of purchasing products or services with a mobile pay app but haven’t yet done so, 8 in 10 said it was due to a lack of interest in trying it. Roughly three-quarters of Boomers who are also familiar with the following initiatives but haven’t tried them also pointed to indifference as the cause: receiving alerts on their mobile device about location-based sales or specials; locating products with a company’s mobile app while shopping; and designing customized version of products/services using a brand’s mobile app or website.

Not only are Baby Boomers less likely to use the technologies that they know about, they are also less likely to even be aware of new CX initiatives. For example, half of Baby Boomers reported not knowing that they could interact with a computer, robot or device via voice command, while only about one-quarter of Millennials were in the dark. Additionally, 45% of Boomers were unfamiliar with the use of interactive digital displays in companies’ stores, more than twice the share of Millennials (20%).

It stands to reason, then, that Millennials are the ones who are most likely to use digital initiatives on a regular basis. This holds true across all of the initiatives measured in the survey. The features they use most frequently include ordering online to pick up (34%), comparing prices, making changes to a purchase/reservation or placing an order with a company’s mobile app (30%) and purchasing products/services with a mobile pay app (29%). However, even Millennials are yet to explore products/services with virtual reality (16%) and use interactive digital displays (virtual showrooms; 16%) on a regular basis, though this may be due to limited exposure to these initiatives.

About the Data: The results are based on a survey fielded among 6,618 consumers in China, Germany, India, Japan, the UK and the US.

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