The retail age divide continues
By, Julian Bonnett, Business Development Director, Comarch. We recently conducted research into the attitudes of consumers across the world to shopping and the retail experience (The Future of Retail Report 2017). The results were fascinating, with some stark divisions between different age groups in habits and attitudes When we questioned consumers on the future of shopping behaviour, expectations and customer loyalty, 18-24 years olds were less inclined to think that the shopping experience would be digitised by 2030, than those in older age groups.
The digital divide
During the research, Comarch interviewed 3,029 people across six countries (UK, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Switzerland and Poland), asking them about their expectations for the future of their shopping experiences.
Despite the view that the young spend all their time on mobiles, they still want to have physical interactions when shopping in the future. A quarter (24%) of 18-24 years olds disagree or slightly disagree that by 2030 cash registers/POS will be replaced with digital or mobile payments. This is the highest of all age groups (only 14% of 25 – 34 year olds and 17% of 55 – 65 year olds shared the same view).
Similarly, 24% of 18-24 year olds disagreed that there would be fewer physical stores in the future than there are now. Again this was the highest of all age groups.
Almost a third (32%) of 18-34 year olds disagreed to some extent that in the future store associates would be replaced with personal digital advisors. Yet 43% of 45 – 54 year olds and 38% of 55- 65 year olds disagreed with the statement. It would seem that, despite the younger generation’s love of all things digital, many still have a strong affinity for physical retail experiences and face-to-face interaction.
Smartphones vs physical loyalty cards
This need for the physical extends to loyalty schemes. Despite the digitisation of consumer’s lives and the prevalence of smartphones, they still want physical cards and coupons from their loyalty programmes.
Thirty-nine percent of respondents preferred to receive coupons through the post. Compared to 31% who wanted them emailed to use digitally, 20% who wanted them emailed to print at home and 8% who wanted to receive them via an app.
The survey found that 95% of British consumers preferred to have a physical card as their ID for loyalty membership, 4% like to be able to use their name and address as identification when shopping, and only 1% wanted a virtual card on a smartphone.
The reason for joining a loyalty programme also differs across ages. Financial advantages are the most impactful triggers for loyalty programmes: 87% of British consumers said that the quality and quantity of the reward shop is important to them, 86% said that the possibility to collect points is important and 85% said that offers and promotions were important to them.
While its clear that the younger age groups preferred monetary rewards, they were also the least likely to be part of at least one loyalty scheme. Ninety percent of 55-65 year-olds were members of at least one loyalty programme, but the percentage was much lower for 18-24 year-olds (54%)
Tailor your scheme to what your audience wants
Retailers can’t rely on assumptions about what their customers want out of the shopping experience, or what their ideal loyalty programme looks like. A concept may be popular with the group, but rewards that are tailored to fit the specific wants and needs of individuals will always get better results for both retailers and customers.
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