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Young shoppers: a new definition of customer-centric retail

Evolving consumer behaviours such as the growth of mobile shopping and showrooming are now well established. How has the landscape has moved on from traditional bricks and mortar sites with a supportive online presence, to one where integrated technology is necessary?

We’re now used to this merging of physical and digital include NFC (near field communication) technology, exclusive deals via app, mirrors which act as responsive interfaces and the integration of iPads into changing rooms for instant selfies. Many retailers are still tackling these complex challenges.

The next generation of changes in retail

But already the landscape is shifting again: as the next generation emerges into adulthood, brands are about to meet a whole new customer, with all new expectations.

The findings from Youth State our new research initiative, highlight these expectations. This is a group of independent, intelligent individuals, of whom 35% said they most admired “not [being] afraid to be themselves” in others.

Young consumers value authenticity and those who stand out from the crowd. They’re unlikely to buy something because everyone else has it, or because the brand makes them look cool. Instead, this is the moment for retailers to start rewarding individuality and even convey that the brand itself would benefit from an association with the customer.

A fundamental power shift

Traditionally the brand’s personality has overwhelmed that of the customer. However retailers may be about to experience a power trade, whereby brands gain status from their customers, rather than vice versa. Especially as this age group values personality above all else: 75% of females and 67% of males surveyed want someone’s first impression of them to be based on their personality.

Currently, however, only 33% believe that this is the case. Retailers can play a part in increasing that figure by ensuring that their communications and in-store environments place substance over style. Facilitating individual expression will be a better way of demonstrating a true understanding of today’s youth than attempting to define the norm. Let the consumer be what makes the product great, rather than promoting the age-old aspirational concept that the product improves the customer.

Time to keep it real

Another important finding from the report is that this generation is not buying into the aspirational lifestyle that celebrities, brands and bloggers plaster all over social media.

In fact 64% said they feel that perfect social media edited lives are a lie. And when it comes to famous faces, 73% said that they find real people more inspiring than celebrities, whilst 52% agreed that celebrities who portray a perfect, curated image are bad role models.

In light of this down to earth attitude, find a way to reflect the same no nonsense outlook. Ditch the glitz and glamour, anything fake, or messaging whose aim is to promote an idealized existence. Celebrate real people, banish airbrushing and connect with these consumers in the real world in a real way.

Acting on these insights

These observations have profound implications for communicating with young people – in content marketing and beyond! For more insights into the diversity of 16 to 24 year olds, particularly getting beyond the myths surrounding millennials and understanding the distinct identity of the subsequent Gen Z, check out of the full Youth State report.