Crowds, discomfort and pushy shop assistants scare younger generations away from stores
While the health crisis has had a negative impact on physical retail outlets, accelerating the digitalisation of shopping, the younger generation's demands on stores have increased. Shoppers aged 18-30 are not abandoning the idea of shopping in-store, but they expect to have a genuine experience there, and are put off by numerous annoyances that brands and small retailers need to eliminate to attract them. A study carried out by OpinionWay for the Equipmag trade show sums up the many expectations of this connected generation.
At the point of sale, the first downfall that drives young French people away is overcrowded shops, for 31% of those surveyed, including 36% of women and 26% of men. Next, 28% of 18-30 year olds mention queues at the checkout or fitting room. "In the age of immediacy, young consumers have no more patience when they can pay for their purchases online with the tip of their finger in a few seconds," the study states.
The attitude of the salesperson can also be a source of disappointment, as some 27% hate being pressured to buy something they do not need. One in four respondents said that an overly pushy sales assistant can make them leave a shop.
"The quality of the customer relationship is key. The sales assistant must be more of a companion, welcoming and guiding if necessary, but not being intrusive", describes Arnaud Gallet, director of the retail trade fair division at Comexposium.
Other aspects of discomfort irritate young consumers in stores, with 26% of participants pointing out unpleasant smells such as perspiration or cheap perfume, as well as excessive heating for 18% of them or air conditioning for 12%. In addition, obvious signs of waste in the shop disappointed 17% of respondents.
Nevertheless, strolling through stores, when they feel comfortable, remains a popular activity for 18-30 year olds. The most pleasing points for 33% of them are first and foremost the friendliness of the sales staff when they do not rush them through their experience, then for 27% the fact that they can be inspired and pick up trends, and the possibility of spending time in an exceptional setting for 20% of them.
"Young people want to return to stores, but not at any price. The store complements online shopping when it offers a genuine experience and when it communicates its values. It can't just be a product collection point," said Gallet, who stresses that the notion of 'haven of peace' is essential for Gen-Z.
"Things are happening in shops, retailers are changing their concept. This does not necessarily require large investments. For example, Sephora has placed a swing in-store so that customers can take pictures of themselves, and department stores are organizing concerts. These are places for living, rather than selling," he added.
Gen Z loves gifts
When asked about the benefits that would encourage them to enter or stay in a store, 18-30 year olds mention several types of attention. Half of them would like to be offered a gift at the entrance; 39% would also like to be offered a drink; 28% would like a free pass for the queues, or an umbrella depending on the weather for 24%. A careful and privileged customer experience, almost VIP, is therefore at the heart of their expectations, something that brands and retailers must bear in mind.
From September 20 to 22, three joint trade fairs related to retail and commerce are being held for the first time at the Porte de Versailles in Paris. These are Equipmag, which focuses on point-of-sale development; Siec, which presents the commercial real estate projects of real estate companies; and Paris Retail Week, which focuses on connected commerce and e-commerce.
Survey of 1,051 people aged 18 to 30, conducted between 29 August and 2 September.
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