Our survey shows that as far as young people are concerned, the future of the bricks and mortar shop in South Korea is safe, at least in the near future. 85% of young respondents (aged 16-21) stated they would continue to shop in stores as much or more than they currently do, and they were more likely to say this than adults.
Shopping is a social event for the young in South Korea
There is an important social element to shopping for young people that belies the popular stereotype of teenagers only communicating through computers. Almost all currently shop socially, and 83% envisage doing this the same amount or more often in future – compared to 77% of adults.
Shopping in-store and shopping online – the preferences
Researching online before going in-store is the trend. Consumers in South Korea prefer to “webroom” – research an item online before going in-store. 75% do this as opposed to 67% who “showroom” – research in-store before buying online.
Across all categories, consumers in South Korea tend to shop either exclusively in-store, or both in-store and online. The only category in which a large proportion of the population has shopped online is personal electronics. 43% of 22-65 year olds have bought personal electronics exclusively online in the last 12 months compared to 23% of youths.
The key drivers to purchasing fashion in-store for 16-21 year olds in South Korea are seeing and feeling the product before buying it, getting products sooner and easier shopping. When it comes to buying fashion online, being a regular shopper at a particular store and getting better information are key drivers for young people.
The difference in attitudes to buying between young people and the older age group
Attitudinally, the young are more style conscious than their adult counterparts, scoring significantly higher on each of the following statements: “it is important for me to dress well/look good”; “I pay a premium for fashion/cosmetics products”. They are also significantly more likely than adults to buy fashion items online without having handled them or tried them on.
The attitudes of the two age groups are similar when it comes to technology. Around half of consumers, regardless of age, think that it is important for them to keep up to date with the latest trends, and a similar number feel that it is important to own the latest technology. Youths place the social importance of shopping higher than adults, however, with 70% stating they like visiting shops with friends/family (vs. 57% of adults).
Youths are more likely to research shopping decisions on mobiles
Youths are significantly more likely to research items on their mobile phones across categories, whereas PC and tablet use tends to be more equal across age groups.
When it comes to paying, the large majority of transactions for consumers of all ages takes place in-store.
Integrated offers matter to one in five consumers
The main barrier to shopping online in South Korea is that consumers prefer to see the product that they’re buying in person, although this is more important for older shoppers (60% vs. 50%). Other key concerns for consumers of all ages are the cost of delivery and the difficulty of returning items.
While South Korean consumers are not particularly concerned about whether online retailers also have physical stores, they see it as a benefit if they do. However, if the store has a physical and online presence the vast majority of consumers in South Korea (65% of youth and 74% of adult) feel that there should be in-store support for items purchased online.
What matters for the future?
Both 16-21 year olds and 22-65 year olds in South Korea think that parcel lockers, home delivery and mobile and apps will increase in importance in the future. When it comes to valuable services, adults place a significantly higher value on Click & Collect than youths (30% adults vs. 20% 16-21s). The option of having products bought in-store delivered to the home is important to both age groups, as is improving in-store service. All age groups want lower prices more choice and easier refunds/returns.
About the Global Youth Retail study
Global Youth Retail study is a GfK proprietary study carried out in 10 countries (US, UK, Germany, Italy, South Korea, Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa). The total sample of 7,266 people includes a boosted sample of c. 5,000 16–21 year olds. The study explores attitudes and behaviors across grocery, personal care, fashion, mobile and personal electronics.
Global Youth Retail is a key component of GfK Future of Retail – market insights we provide based on best intelligence about the demand and expectations of today’s shoppers across all categories and markets. Bringing together sales facts, panel data and shopper research, we help generate the precise and future focused retail strategy you need for sustainable business success.