The Digital Millennial how the new generations are driving a retail shopping revolution

Digitization is changing our lives, and the new generations of millennials and GenZ are at the forefront of this digital revolution. With some 87 million individuals born after 1980 and before the early 2000s, millennials are a young but influential demographic with enormous buying power.

Given both demographics are anything but traditional when it comes to shopping, retailers must figure out how best to engage with them, or face losing out. Millennials and GenZ have a completely different approach to technology, privacy and social interaction than any generation before and want to actively interact with brands, not just be offered a good deal.

As a result, today’s retail is less about the product and more about the individual.  Millennials and GenZ shoppers want to feel special and expect a personalized experience, with the retailer differentiating their needs above anyone else’s. This is important for retailers to heed because they are also much more vocal online about their experience – both a blessing and a curse.

So how do retailers engage these new generations while continuing to manage their own needs?

It is a well-known fact that time spent in the stores ultimately leads to higher purchases than online shopping. In fact, even 75%  of millennial purchases continue to be made in physical stores, resulting in retailers investing heavily in expensive property portfolios. However, actually getting customers into a store is harder than ever before. While a number of retailers are trying to solve this by thinking outside of the box with their property teams, many are still playing catch up. In order to target this generation who have never experienced a world without internet, retailers must ensure that their retail property strategy is aligned with their marketing and IT digitally.

Retail designers need to develop their digital capability to specify spaces which are tailored to this new way of selling. The major missing link for retailers is connecting with customers, especially millennials and GenZ, when they are close to and whilst they are in the stores themselves. They can deliver real time information and personalized offers that enhance their customer journeys, but how can retail property react to digitization?

The answer lies with digital content, but starts with a strategy for today’s digital age. It incorporates innovation and technology, as well as data analytics, but underlying it all is the content.  In the same way as the older generation like to be welcomed in person when they walk into a restaurant, today’s shoppers like to receive relevant content in real time. There’s no better place to receive it than when they are physically instore. Attracting customers digitally with promotions and rewards for post-purchase online reviews is essential, but always remembering that the optimum place for retail theatre is instore.

On traditional property projects, IT and digital sit outside the project delivery team and the delivery themes remain the same. Retailers continue to ask for standardization, fast paced programs, benchmarking, agile delivery, brand guardianship and sustainability. However it is most important to have integrated project teams that incorporate IT, digital and property specialists to resolve modern issues. Bringing in digital expertise at the outset and tailoring the customer journey to the specific brand future-proofs the end project product.

GenZ have more time to spend in stores so retailers need to create spaces that they find attractive. A digital screen will not impress them, but tailored content on that screen will. Therefore incorporating the design of the digital content into the property strategy is key to creating a space that will keep the customer in store for more time, and ultimately spend more money.

At Arcadis we are aligned with the changing retail trends and disappearing loyalty that Millennials and GenZ are driving. We are able to assist with the digital agendas of our retail customers helping them devise content and property strategies for today’s retail landscapes. With the new generations holding the reins, it’s impossible for retailers to get bored.

Kostas Koultzis

Head of Retail, UK 07788 30 31 28 Ask me a question
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