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Why do we shop? The generational differences behind brick and mortar visits

Why do we shop? The generational differences behind brick and mortar visits

iModerate Author

Apr 08, 2016

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We recently wrapped up research on the retail experience – what motivates consumers to visit a physical store, what makes an ideal experience once there, and what value stores bring to their lives. When we asked consumers the importance of a brand having a physical store, we were surprised by the results. Younger generations thought it was significantly more important to have a physical store presence (82% of millennials / 80% Gen Z) as compared to older generations (69% Gen X / 65% Boomer).

Why is that? What does each generation value in a brick & mortar store?

Gen Z: Reassurance
Stores like Forever 21 and Sephora fulfill their need to mix and match, and play with colors, samples, and patterns. This group wants to see how things fit together, feel textures, and get a sense for quality prior to making any purchases. Furthermore, they’re turned off by both the cost and timelines involved with shipping.

Millennials: Efficiency
This generation has a lot on their hands between blossoming careers and young kids. They’re often spending a lot of money, and rely on coupons to help them save. They’re drawn to the one-stop nature of big box stores, but will spend more money elsewhere if they feel that it’ll be more convenient. A perfect experience is one where they can quickly get in and get out, leaving with exactly what they came for.

Gen X: Escape
Similar to Millennials, Gen X loves big box stores. That said, their children are generally a bit older. In-store experiences are less about blowing in and out of a big box store, and more about taking time to peruse and explore. Small efforts to contribute to a positive experience, such as coffee, calm music, or creative displays go a long way with this crowd.

Boomers: Comfort
Boomers prioritize a comfortable shopping experience that’s easy on the senses (think low music, light fragrance, etc.). Boomers are more price conscious than other shoppers, as they’re often on a fixed income and focused on saving for future generations. They are pragmatic shoppers, and want to touch and feel things before purchasing them.

Regardless of what they’re after, all generations feel that brick and mortar stores are valuable. Now that you know what’s most important to each generation, check out the full report to learn what situations drive consumers to stores and what factors define the ideal shopping experience.

iModerate Author

By engaging an experienced firm such as iModerate, whose business is qualitative research, you get online delivery of depth interviews by experienced researchers – both during the interviews and for the analysis. iModerate does not simply understand our business questions, but they work to scope discussion guides to advance both the narrow business question and the larger context of the experience, helping us advance marketing and business objectives with their findings well beyond the immediate need.

Angela Knittle, Market Research Manager, Penske