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Established 1996
Friday 29 May 2020


Gen Z value stores more than Gen X or Boomers

Written by Peter Walker

Despite clear differences in expectations among shoppers of different generations, almost half of retailers (44 per cent) have made no progress in tailoring the in-store shopping experience.

This is according to a study conducted by Oracle NetSuite, Wakefield Research and The Retail Doctor, among 1,200 consumers and 400 retail executives across the US, UK and Australia.

Despite the stereotypes of ‘digital natives’, Generation Z and Millennials (43 per cent) were most likely to do more in-store shopping this year, followed by Gen X (29 per cent) and Baby Boomers (13 per cent).

Gen Z and Millennials (57 per cent) had the most positive view of the current retail environment, followed by Gen X (40 per cent). Baby Boomers (27 per cent) were more likely to find the current retail environment less inviting than consumers overall.

Gen Z valued in-store interaction the least, with 42 per cent feeling more annoyed from increased interaction with retail associates. In contrast, Millennials (56 per cent), Gen X (44 per cent) and Baby Boomer (43 per cent) generations all noted they would feel more welcomed by more in-store interactions.

While more than three quarters of retail executives (79 per cent) believe having artificial intelligence (AI) and virtual reality (VR) tech in stores will increase sales, the study found that these technologies are not yet widely accepted by any generation.

Overall, only 14 per cent of consumers believe that emerging technologies like AI and VR will have a significant impact on their purchase decisions.

Emerging tech in retail stores is most attractive to Millennials (50 per cent), followed by Gen Z (38 per cent), Gen X (35 per cent) and Baby Boomers (20 per cent).

Perceptions of VR varied widely across different generations, with 58 per cent of Gen Z saying VR would have some influence on their purchase decisions, while 59 per cent of Baby Boomers said it would have no influence on their purchase decision.

While almost all retail executives (98 per cent) think that engaging customers on social media is important to building stronger relationships with them, the study found a big disconnect with consumers across all generations.

Overall, only 12 per cent of consumers think their engagement with brands on social media has a significant impact on the way they think or feel about a brand. Among those who engage with brands on social media, Gen Z (38 per cent) consumers are much more likely than other generations to engage with retailers on social to get to know the brand, compared to Millennials (25 per cent) and Baby Boomers (21 per cent).

“We have seen decades of diminishing experiences in brick and mortar stores, and the differences identified in these results point to its impact on consumers over the years,” said Bob Phibbs, chief executive at The Retail Doctor. “Retailers have fallen behind in offering in-store experiences that balance personalisation and customer service but there’s an opportunity to take the reins back.”

Greg Zakowicz, senior commerce marketing analyst for Oracle NetSuite, concluded: “These findings fit with broader trends we have been seeing around the importance of immediacy and underlines why retailers cannot afford to make assumptions about the needs and expectations of different generations.

“It really is a complex puzzle and as this study clearly shows, retailers need to think carefully about how they meet the needs of different generations.”


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