Buy Now Pay Later for the Ages

The Appeal of Buy Now Pay Later Varies By Generation

In a recent study by Netfluential about Buy Now Pay Later (BNPL) users, one thing that became clear is that there is a need for BNPL across all generations. But within these broad parameters, it also became apparent that what was most important to various users can often be divided by generation. Each generation has its own relationship with finance. Attitude towards finance is influenced by experience; and people of the same generation may have lived through the same major events in their lifetime that have contributed to a shared attitude – and this will have shaped their views to a great extent. But it is also important to note that this doesn’t make their unique experiences and outcomes within that specific generation the same. Life situations vary, and the shared experiences of an era can only partially account for personal attitudes toward finance that can materialize into very different outcomes. 

The complete research can be downloaded below.

For this survey (BNPL Landscaping Research), Netfluential spoke to 1500 participants, including 386 people who have used any BNPL option, 259 users who have used Sezzle specifically, and 1114 participants who have never used BNPL, but who are open to it. For BNPL users as a whole, trust and convenience are extremely important when choosing a payment method. For Sezzle users, add to this the importance of helping the consumer in the credit building process and offering a strong social mission. Overall, BNPL users are more confident in their abilities to reach their financial priorities, and Sezzle users in particular feel most confident about their ability to save money and control their spending.


Not surprisingly, the way people of different generations tend to look at finances varies widely. In life’s journey, priorities change. Saving for the future is a universal goal, but younger people are focused on taking control and avoiding financial issues, while older groups tend to be more likely to be recovering from previous financial mistakes. 

BNPL users tend to skew younger. Across the board, BNPL users tend to be millennial and male (54%). But while this is true, it is important to remember that nearly half of users do not fit this demographic, but cover a wider spectrum of the population, by age and gender, and other demarcations. To be sure, reasons why BNPL appeals to different demographics can vary widely by age and stage of life. There is a gradual progression of the spectrum of financial priorities throughout the generations: Gen Z aims to spend less and wants to build their credit score; Millennials also want to build their credit score, but also prioritize educating themselves on finances and how to manage their money. Gen X users are concerned about analyzing and keeping control of their spending habits, while Boomers tend to just aim to spend less.

On a different plane, the value of social good resonates most strongly with younger consumers and less so with those who are older. But don’t be fooled: this is not a blanket statement. To be fair, many older consumers also value social good highly when presented with it as a factor in selecting a payment option. Yet the overwhelmingly wide impact it has on younger people is astounding. A remarkable 76% of under 45s actively seek out merchants who champion social good – avoiding merchants without a clear social mission. But it needs to be stressed that also nearly half of over 45s  lean this way (47%), so it is unfair to assume it is not an important factor to most BNPL customers across the board.

While there are recognizable delineations between the generations, finance is personal and highly individual. How one views the financial realm – and regards BNPL as a payment option – can depend on one’s stage in life – but that is only one aspect on a wider spectrum. Generalizations can be misleading. It is important to recognize that within every generation, there are varying responsibilities and life situations that affect their relationships and attitudes towards financial matters. Personal history, income, health and current life situations all factor in. What is important, is that all aspects of the financial journey should be addressed, with resources that can speak to the broad spectrum of financial wellbeing through all walks of life: It is important to be inclusive and aware of the needs of all consumers, regardless of age.

Source: Netfluential Study of 1,500 US adults who shop online, March 2021 (commissioned by Sezzle)

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