Digital natives, those in their early teens who have grown up with the Internet as an integral element of their lives, are starting to spend. Through our five-year study into the impact of technology on the behaviour and attitudes of 10-15 year olds called Amaze Generation, we have watched how these new consumers are naturally using digital as a retail tool, a behaviour many other generations have had to proactively adopt. So what is the impact of this use of digital for retailers?

With digital so intrinsically linked to their day-to-day lives and behaviours, it is no surprise that it also plays a key role for digital natives in their retail decision-making processes. In the most recent phase of research we found that whilst 71% of the group confirmed they make online purchases because of the range of choice available, the convenience of online shopping followed a close second as to why online is chosen over in-store. If brands want to encourage bricks and mortar shopping, it is vital that they acknowledge the importance of digital to this age group.

Fashion tops the list of purchases when it comes to online shopping, with 47% of digital natives saying they have bought clothes online. They also use their smartphone as a key element in the shopping process in-store. In addition retailers should be aware of the role social media plays in retail decision-making, with 67% of the group saying they had used social media in-store to share a photo of a potential purchase. This social validation is key and should be supported. There are various ways to approach this, for example, by setting up well lit photo shoot areas to make the process more fun and feed into a catwalk vibe. Retailers could also provide hashtags and encourage customers to share their images via Twitter and Facebook, which will also work to increase brand engagement.

Interestingly, while digital natives are aware of shopping comparison sites, they primarily use them for technology, film and game purchases, not fashion. Our experience shows that brands that try to inhibit or hamper these activities in-store by not providing free WIFI are looked upon poorly, compared to their counterparts that do. In fact, industry research reveals how 74% of respondents are happy to receive a text or email from a store while using their free Wi-Fi1.  Our advice however, is that brands should not push their luck – less is definitely more. Equally, if the sign-on process is lengthy, non persistent or asks too many questions, it will act as a major turn-off. Simplicity and speed are key.  Services such as The Cloud get it right, where users register once and from then on it is easy to get back online.

A brand’s closest competitor is no longer likely to be on the high street but instead be a competitor’s web site or eBay. So keeping customers focused on what you can offer both in-store and online is vital. Stores should cross-pollinate between their digital presence and the real world as much as possible.

Providing opportunities for digital natives to engage and share while in-store can also drive engagement. However, we also found that this age group look for a tangible exchange in any engagement, with incentives such as offers and competitions more likely to get them to scan a QR code or ‘like’ a brand. 

The Amaze Generation see the future of the high street as bleak. They expect there to be fewer shops and shoppers, with online cited as the reason. To counter this the primary message is to embrace and facilitate digital at every touch point. Look at the in-store experience and seek ways in which it could be enhanced, made smarter or more interesting through digital. Weave digital into the experience in ways that are simple to participate in and offer tangible rewards, be they social validation, kudos, offers, rewards or interesting back-stories.

1ondevice research January 2012

Tunde Cockshott_72dpi_colourTunde Cockshott, Creative Consultant, Amaze
Tunde has been working in the field of interactive design since the early days of hypermedia in the late nineteen eighties. He is an IT professional, a creative thinker experienced in creative concept generation, problem solving and strategic thinking. His research interests include augmented reality, neuromarketing and digital psychology. Tunde has expert knowledge and experience of: web development process, game design, Web 2.0, e-learning, e-marketing, knowledge management, interface design, mobile, usability, and accessibility. Tunde has worked with many of Amaze’s major clients over the 10 years he has been with Amaze.

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