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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

Our research work with iModerate over the past several years has developed into a true partnership. Their unique fusion of both qualitative and quantitative methodologies in a single study has offered new insights into key topics and markets of interest for our organization, which in turn, we are able to quickly turn into action steps. They are flexible, responsive, and extremely engaged in the entire project process, from conception and design to final data processing and delivery. They have even gone above and beyond by volunteering their time, resources, and expertise to assist with a special target market project on women. iModerate has their finger on the pulse of the research industry and consistently provides creative suggestions and solutions to enhance our current work. This ultimately allows us to provide our leadership with the strategic insights and opportunities that helps us to advance the common good.

Kristin Thomsen, Manager, Market Research, United Way Worldwide