Young shoppers still loyal in the 'Digital Generation'

Editor - 29th May 2015

Posted on Categories Issues, Off The Press

Despite their love of and ease within the online world, today’s young people are not exclusively virtual shoppers, glued to their screens throughout the purchase journey. This new generation of digital natives loves the environment of the store, and values the interaction it offers. And they show no signs of changing their viewpoint.

This creates opportunities for brick and click retailers to challenge the purely online players, some of which – like eBay and Amazon – are responding by migrating out of their virtual comfort zone to investigate the High Street.

The Global Young Shopper survey questioned shoppers aged 16-21 in 10 markets around the world. Here’s what they told us about their online and offline shopping experiences.

Wikimedia Commons - Dressformer
Wikimedia Commons – Dressformer

Point one: 
More young people say they will only buy from retailers that have a physical presence.
Younger shoppers are slightly more likely than older people to shun shopping online altogether, however only a small percentage of 16-21 year olds never shop online.
When we questioned young shoppers about their online purchasing behaviour, we found that in every single retail category, shoppers aged 16-21 are significantly more likely to say that they only buy online from shops that have a physical store.

Point two: 
Retailers must join the dots to satisfy the ‘omnichannel’ generation.
Our research confirms that young shoppers are an omnichannel generation, expecting a seamless experience between the two environments. Two thirds think that retailers should provide customer support in stores, even if they have bought online. This means retailers must offer a fully integrated service, with products and information available across all channels. Young people expect to be able go online to check stock in a physical store, to return their online purchases to physical stores, and to access customer support wherever and whenever they need it.

Point three:
Experiencing the product is most important for high ticket items.
For more expensive and high involvement categories, young shoppers expect to be able to buy in store. For instance, in seven of the ten markets we surveyed, 16-21 year olds were more likely to shop exclusively in stores for mobile phones. Clearly for this age group to fully appreciate which phone is the right one, a visit to a store to see it, handle the products and talking to sales staff in person is necessary.

The research shows that for young people, online shopping is not the default option. And retail markets are not, as some may have predicted, progressing relentlessly towards 100% e-commerce. Instead physical stores and virtual shopping are likely to co-exist with improved synergy, supported by solutions such as Virtual Fitting Rooms and Click & Collect.
While they are completely at ease shopping on mobile phones and tablets, 16-21 year olds continue to value visiting a physical store, particularly when they are purchasing more expensive and higher engagement items. They also see a shop as the place to go for customer support, regardless of where an item was bought. It is essential that retailers understand these attitudes, and the nuances within each category, if they are to meet the demands of the next generation of customers.

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