Buy Now, Pay Later: How Demographics Influence Payment Choices for Shoppers

Generational shifts and digital-savvy spending habits have ushered in an exciting era for payments. Learn about who your shoppers really are, and what kind of options best serve their needs when it comes to buying now and paying later.

Have you ever gone to pay for something and realized you don’t have your credit card? With over a billion cards in the US,1 credit is one of the most popular payment types. But today there are other options. You could get out your phone and buy that coffee with an app or with a QR code. You may even be able to pay with Venmo. If you’re shopping online, you can use stored cards, digital wallets and the latest addition: buy now, pay later (BNPL).

Shoppers today have more choices than ever, and offering the right payment methods, including BNPL, can help businesses reach new demographics and encourage conversion. Here are some things to consider to help serve the specific needs of your customers.

Digital adoption is accelerating among Boomers and Gen X

When you think of Baby Boomers and Gen X, you may think of traditional credit cards – but the times are changing. Shifting consumer habits among these generations are ushering in a new era of digital adoption. By 2025, eMarketer predicts that Gen X and Boomers will make up roughly one-third of BNPL users.2

Baby Boomers are becoming more technologically savvy. The traditional line of thinking that Baby Boomers simply aren’t digitally savvy may no longer be true. In fact, 50.3 million Baby Boomers, or about 70%, have smartphones, while 32.3 million have tablets. The most surprising? Baby Boomer adoption of wearables, like smart watches, is actually projected to rise over the next few years.3 Along with the fact that Boomers also increased their digital spending during the pandemic,4 we could be seeing a rise in digital behaviors that contributes to the adoption of BNPL.

Gen X is adopting payment alternatives. Gen X has the highest average debt of any generation.5 Some of this can be attributed to their life stage – for example, they’re more likely to own their home than those under age 35,6 but may not have paid it off yet, as Baby Boomers may have. Gen X also has the highest average student loan debt.7 Both these factors may help to explain why they’re looking to options like buy now, pay later installments – and adopting them at nearly as fast a rate as younger generations.8

Younger generations are using new payment methods

Millennials are the largest generation. Together with Gen Z, the two make up 42% of the population.9 These are the generations that are driving the digital transformation – and could be driving widespread adoption of new payment types. But what drives them?

Millennials remain budget-conscious. While the median weekly earnings of millennials aren’t too far behind their older cohorts,10 millennials do have a lower disposable income.11 That could be why they’re more concerned about their financial future than other generations.12 They’ve also been quick to adopt buy now, pay later, with 56% saying they’ve used interest-free payment and installment services – more than any other generation.13

Gen Z wants a great user experience. Unlike other generations, Gen Z shops as much online as they do in-store.14 They also have less patience for poor experiences, and are more likely to post a bad review after they’ve had one.14 While Gen Z’s use of BNPL is second only to millennials, with 49% having used it,13 businesses may need to provide a more seamless experience to truly capture this generation’s interest.

Installment options help meet the needs of all demographics

While their reasons for turning to buy now, pay later may be different, all generations use these types of payment options.15 In fact, the generation with the most future potential may surprise you: The fastest-growing age group to adopt BNPL is US consumers over age 54.16

Installments are a flexible option that can help meet your customers’ needs for simple, clear and budget-friendly payments. The availability of a BNPL option has a positive impact on the shopping experience, with 72% of BNPL users more likely to complete a purchase if a BNPL option is available.17

To give your customers even more choice, PayPal Pay Later includes two installment offers in a single integration.

Pay in 4.18 A short-term, interest-free installment solution that lets customers pay in 4 payments over 6 weeks.

Pay Monthly.19 A medium- to longer-term installment offer that enables customers to pay for their purchases in 6, 12, or 24 monthly installments. You may also have the option to pay an additional cost to fund 0% APR promotions, helping to further increase basket size and overall sales.

Pay in 4 and Pay Monthly are a part of PayPal Pay Later, which is included in PayPal Checkout with no new integration needed and no extra cost to you. (If you choose to fund a Pay Monthly 0% APR promotion, there is an additional fee.) And there are no sign-up fees or late fees for your customers.

Discover the power of Pay Later today – visit the Pay Later page, contact your account manager or call 855-477-5687.

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