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Young Shopper: All about UK’s young shoppers!

by Matthias Rasztar , 02.12.2015

Retailers need not be at all concerned about young people in the UK shunning “real” shops. According to our study, while almost half of youths (aged 16-21) believe shopping online will grow in importance in the next two years, 72% think they will use physical stores to research and buy products the same amount or more in two years’ time. Around the same proportion of adults (75% of those aged 22-65) think they will visit stores as much or more.

However, young people are significantly more likely to say they will visit physical stores more than they do now (23% vs. 9% of the older age group), while older respondents are more likely to say they will use shops the same amount as they do now (66% vs. 49%).

Social shopping is an important activity for the young

Younger respondents anticipate they will shop socially more often in future (28% vs. 8% of older shoppers), while older shoppers are more likely to say they will shop socially the same amount as they do now (57% vs. 47% of youth).

Webrooming wins over showrooming in the UK

Consumers in the UK prefer to “webroom” – research an item online before going in-store. 76% of youths do this, as opposed to researching in-store and then buying online (55%). The adults surveyed showed the same trend for webrooming over showrooming.

Online or in shops, what motivates consumers?

Youths perceive it as a greater benefit for online stores to be attached to physical stores compared to the adults (73% vs. 60%). In addition, young people are significantly more likely to say they only buy from online stores that have physical stores as well (25% vs. 10% of adults). On the other hand, older respondents are more likely to say that they buy from the most convenient store/the one with the best offer, and that they don’t care if an online store has a physical presence (37% vs. 23% of youths).

Differences in consumer behavior between youths and adults

In some respects, youths and adults are very similar. Convenience is the most important factor for shopping in-store for groceries and personal care items. When shopping for mobiles and personal electronics, consumers are looking for information and expertise from staff. Shopping for fashion items in-store is valued the most as a social activity versus the other categories.

Attitudinally, the youth group is more concerned with fashion and shopping as a social activity, while the adult group is more likely to enjoy shopping for groceries. Interestingly, the level of engagement in technology is relatively similar between adults and the youth.

The young are more likely to enjoy shopping, to label themselves “shopaholics” and to find shopping less of a chore.

Everybody likes to research purchases online, but youths use mobiles more

16-21 year olds are significantly more likely to use mobiles to research or purchase products. When it comes to actually paying for goods, the majority of transactions take place in-store, with most online transactions completed using a desktop or laptop.

Delivery costs put some consumers off online shopping

The main barrier to shopping online in the UK is the cost of delivery, with young people more likely to say this than older respondents (57% vs. 47%). Equally, consumers will sometimes refrain from buying online because they want to try a product in-store – again, young people are the most likely to say this (42% vs. 34% of adults). More practical elements such as credit card security are of a slightly lower importance and less of a barrier to all consumers... Older respondents are more likely to say they have no reservations about shopping online (25% vs. 11%).

Consumers want in-store and online services integrated

Youths and adults have similar expectations of stores to integrate their in-store and online services, with the majority expecting that retailers will support them in-store even when the purchase was made online. Furthermore, youths are more likely to see the benefit of an online store having a physical outlet (73% vs. 60%).

What shoppers think will be important in the future

Hand-in-hand with the increased importance of online, youths think home delivery will be more important than today. There is however a big difference between older and younger consumers when it comes to what they see as important for the future. Youths are particularly interested in innovations such as Amazon drone, whereas adults are more likely to be interested in buying in-store and then having items delivered (49% vs. 39%).

Looking to the future, besides lower prices, youths are looking for convenience, with both easier refunds and improved delivery services considered of high importance. Better delivery is more likely to be a priority for older people (41% vs. 50%). Mobile payments or contactless payments are least mentioned, but even so, 22% of youths and 18% of adults would like to see more payment options.

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.

For more information contact Matthias Rasztar at matthias.rasztar@gfk.com.

For more information on our Young Shopper Study, check out our other posts:

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