Consumer shopping habits have changed dramatically over the last few years. We explore how younger shoppers are changing the retail environment...
While we’re not one to generalise a generation – and we won’t use the ‘M’ word – it’s undisputable that younger shoppers are changing the face of retail. After a raft of retail companies going into administration in past years, New Look are now looking into closing 60 stores, and House of Fraser are also considering closing a number of stores due to low performance.
But in-store retail is far from dead. Studies show that younger shoppers still recognise brick and mortar shops as an important part of their buying journey. So why then are so many retailers failing to capture and retain their loyalty?
We take a closer look at how a generation of shoppers are changing the retail environment and what you can do to keep footfall in your store.
Adopting technology in the retail environment
We know that a new generation of shoppers are adopting technology within retail space – 85% use their phones to help with purchase decisions. We’ve also seen a trend emerge called ‘showrooming’, which refers to consumers going to see products in-store before buying it online at a later date. When it first emerged, it was seen as a huge threat to retailers because the suspicion was that shoppers used the store as a showroom and then bought the product from whichever online retailer offered the best price.
What does this mean for your brand? Your online and in-store presence needs to complement one other. You need current and useful branded technology that can quickly give customers what they need, on a personalised level, while they’re in-store. Customers’ expectations are higher than ever before, but this can be remedied with a seamless online experience that encourages customers to purchase in-store.
Retail in the age of the sharing economy
Using the sharing economy is second nature to people all over the world. Retailers should certainly sit up and take note. Consumers are becoming evermore environmentally and socially aware, and brands need to reflect this to capture the attention of new consumers and create loyalty.
Product teams need to be considering how their brand might adapt to the sharing economy. H&M’s recycling scheme is a great example of a socially aware campaign that addresses a consumer need (of what to do with disposable fashion) that gets people through the doors.
Innovation in retail in the sharing world is understandably slow – there’s a difference between sharing a car with a stranger and sharing a leather jacket. But great ideas that tap into the willingness of young people to do things differently for the sake of the environment or their own bank balance could spell a serious competitive advantage for retail brands.
78% of consumers say they prefer buying experiences over things. This can be a daunting fact initially, but rest assured, this doesn’t mean that they won’t continue to buy what you’re selling. It does mean, however, that you need to harness experiential shopping.
Brands such as Benefit Cosmetics (with their extraordinary Good Ship Benefit, among others), Vans (with their seriously cool House of Vans) and IKEA (who have created pop-ups including a breakfast in bed café) realise the value of immersive retail experiences. They know that a value exchange in the form of experiential events helps drive people into their stores.
Bear in mind that experiences also provide your customers with something worth sharing, which can boost your social media presence.
More than millennials
Although it’s often young people than are held accountable for the changing retail landscape, their habits are now transforming the buying habits of generations before them. Parents are increasingly mimicking the behaviour of their tech-fluent children in a bid to keep up with the revolution. So even the most reliable of baby boomers are changing the way they shop.
The inability to adapt and respond to the changing behaviour of consumers is arguably the downfall of many retailers, resulting in the reported demise of the high street. However, there are ample opportunities for brands to learn what consumers want and to harness this to drive sales – if brands are willing to listen.
Retailers must recognise their consumers’ changing behaviour and respond quickly to meet their rising expectations. And if they do? They won’t just survive, but thrive.