Generational shopping: Motivations & opportunities
As any number of press headlines, social quizzes and online commentary regularly inform us, the way each generation behaves is a hot topic. Getting inside the minds of the often-overlooked Gen X, the much-maligned millennials and the increasingly powerful Gen Z is something of a holy grail for retailers – cracking each demographic’s code and tailoring your approach to be relevant to them and their motivators is undoubtedly a strong strategy for engaging customers and increasing sales.
The generation game
When it comes to customer experience, the good news is that it’s pretty clear what each generation needs to guide their path to purchase.
Gen X – tech is a tool
Motivator: caring and sharing
Many will be looking after elderly parents as well as children from toddlers to university age. So being able to talk to someone else about their day-to-day activities is a small act of self-care.
Gen X tend to respond well to being able to talk through their purchases and preferences with a trusted shopping companion. Combine this with their willingness to use tech and you have the perfect audience for clienteling services, whether they’re virtual or in-store.
Motivator: tomorrow’s world
They’re likely to be looking for their concerns about what the world will look like for their loved ones, at least some of whom will be working in retail, to be reflected in not only the values but the actions of the retailers they choose to shop with.
Turn your store associates into ambassadors by making sure they have the tools to do their jobs properly with all the information they need to answer customers’ questions about product origins and sustainability.
Millennials – tech is a convenience
Motivator: curated lifestyle
Millennials tend towards making purchases that say something about the way they live. According to GlobalWebIndex, 77% of this demographic want to feel like they’re part of a community when they shop – they’re aware of their ‘personal brand’ and want to make sure what they buy reflects this.
Start a conversation about what you offer, from advice before buying to after-care and follow-up communications. Give store associates access to every aspect of the customer’s profile as well as product details so that they can have a full and informed exchange of ideas and advice.
Motivator: ease and availability
Millennials are used to the speed and simplicity of using technology to browse and order goods at a time when it’s convenient to them. They’re accustomed to being able to access shopping services that fit in with their lifestyle, and are likely to expect retailers to accommodate that.
Flexibility through click and collect /BOPAK is at the heart of this opportunity – being able to choose when and where they collect their purchases is fundamental to their experience and they would expect it as standard.
Gen Z – tech is a way of life
Motivator: show, don’t tell
This demographic has never known a world without all the benefits of technology at their fingertips, and most have embraced enhancements in visual social media to such a degree that they are primarily influenced by people showing them how products work on platforms such as Instagram and TikTok.
As Gen Z are generally entirely comfortable with tech-led demonstrations on their phones and tablets, they’re an ideal audience for virtual consultations where they have one-to-one access to an expert advisor. This is their territory – many will be more in tune with video chats than store visits.
Motivator: buying ‘clean’ – ethical, sustainable and recyclable
This demographic tends to be cost-conscious, but willing to go outside their budget to buy products that are proven to be ethically and sustainably manufactured. As demonstrated by the growth in Gen Z purchases of ‘clean’ cosmetics and pre-loved items, they want to know that what they’re buying meets their personal code – details about materials sourcing, manufacturing and ethical production all play an important part in the buying decision.
Openness and transparency is key to winning over the Gen Z shopper – make full details about your entire range, complete with manufacturing and sustainability information, available to them whenever they need it. Store associates with all the facts at their fingertips will be able to handle every question and provide everything the customer needs so that they can be sure they’ve made the right decision.
While each generation has its individual characteristics, what they all have in common is a desire to build a two-way relationship with retailers – one that allows them to tap into store associates’ expertise and be part of a conversation that reflects their personal wants and needs. Whatever stage they may be in the tech cycle, from early adopter to digital native, it’s evident that intelligent application of its benefits is the key to engagement across all demographics.
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With a background in marketing and psychology, Emma Newman is a talented Client Consultancy Director who has worked with high-profile clients across the retail spectrum. Much in demand as a customer experience expert, she has been instrumental in building customer-focused strategies for a number of leading brands.