Retailers need to rethink the shopping experience if they want to better connect with today’s millennials, according to a new study.
In a survey of U.S. consumers by Toronto-based retail design firm Shikatani Lacroix, nearly half of millennials (47%) said they value the experience a brand provides more than the actual product value, compared to 22% of boomers and 38% of Gen X.
In addition, nearly 48% of millennials feel more loyal to a brand that provides interesting experiences, compared to 35% of Gen X and 17% of boomers. And 42% of millennials indicated they enjoy experiences that allowed them to feel part of the story, compared to 38% of Gen X and 20% of boomers.
“[Millennials] are very much experiential driven, and much more about being part of the narrative, so retailers have to start thinking about how to make the consumer part of the story,” said Jean-Pierre Lacroix, president and founder of Shikatani Lacroix. “Being part of an immersive experience is really important for millennials.
The message for the retailer is you have to make [the store environment] more immersive and much more engaging than you are today.”
What exactly are they looking for in a store experience? Some of the most important factors are:
•interactive: 42% millennials; 24% boomers
•entertaining: 39% millennials; 29% boomers
•rewards me for my loyalty: 36% millennials; 31% boomers
•memorable: 38% millennials; 30.5% boomers
•allows me to discover something new: 37% millennials; 28% boomers
•teaches me something: 37% millennials; 32% boomers
The study found millennials are heavier users and more familiar than the general population with immersive technologies such as in-store touch-screens, 3D movies, virtual reality goggles and video computer conferencing. But, interestingly, millennials and boomers are aligned when it comes to how immersive technologies help them make a purchase decision.
Among the options that help millennials and boomers make a purchase decision are:
•the store staff are tablet-enabled to allow me to receive competitive price comparisons in addition to quick check out: 32.5% millennials; 40% boomers
•the store offers virtual demonstration areas that I can view with 3D glasses: 31% millennials; 45% boomers
•when I enter the store I receive a personalized message and offer on my smartphone: 30% millennials; 44% boomers
•the store features interactive touch-screens where I can receive a wealth of product information: 31% millennials; 40% boomers
•the store offers virtual fitting rooms where I can try a wide range of products quickly: 33.5% millennials; 42% boomers
•I can view a 3D simulated walk-through of the store before my visit so I can find the item I am looking for: 34% millennials; 40% boomers
Lacroix said these findings were kind of a surprise, but it demonstrates that immersive technologies in a retail environment do have a significant influence. “It shows a fertile ground for retailers wanting to test new technologies,” he said.
The full study can be downloaded here.