Retail

Can Millennials Save Brick-And-Mortar Retail?

Though many retailers have assumed millennials are behind the trend toward highly digitized, online-focused shopping experiences, baby boomers might be the real culprits.

“The retail industry has been operating on the outdated assumption that [baby] boomers are shopping for [bargains] primarily in-store, and millennials are searching for deals mostly online,” explained Greg Petro, CEO of technology company First Insight.

According to a CNBC news report, First Insight’s recent research into consumer behavior found that the U.S. is experiencing a “behavioral shift” in the way generations shop for bargains, with 71 percent of millennials shopping multiple stores before making a purchase compared to their older baby boomer counterparts (57 percent).

“The behavior between these generations is evolving,” Petro said, “and to benefit, retailers must recalibrate their approach to marketing, inventory and pricing to attract deal-seekers who may have been overlooked based on outdated perceptions.”

In a survey of 750 U.S. consumers, First Insight gleaned information about the “shopping habits, purchase behavior, discount expectations and influences that drive purchase decisions,” according to CNBC. Its findings were revealing.

In the Northeast, 25 percent more millennials visit multiple stores when bargain shopping than baby boomers. In the West, millennials equally use online and in-store means to look for the goods they seek, and in the Midwest, older consumers go the traditional route of both shopping and purchasing in-store more often than online.

“Millennials are going out [for] the treasure hunting experience in stores,” Petro said. “Baby boomers, growing up, have already experienced this … Basically, what this suggests is not to ignore the store environment, because millennials are still seeking it out.”

As the holidays approach, consumer-facing companies must have a plan in place to appeal to both demographics, CNBC advised. A recent RetailMeNot survey found 45 percent of Americans start their holiday shopping on Nov. 1 — and that Americans spend an average of $743 each during the holiday shopping kick-off weekend of Black Friday through Cyber Monday. That’s compared to $505 a year ago: a 47 percent increase.

“The store is still alive and well,” said Marissa Tarleton, RetailMeNot chief marketing officer, in the CNBC interview. “The majority of customers say they still want to go into the store, and retailers are still seeing a lot of activity in stores.”

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