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Bricks and mortar future assured

News, 24 December 2014

LONDON: Young consumers globally have no intention of abandoning bricks and mortar stores for online shopping according to a new report which suggests that most 16-21 year olds will shop in-store in future as much or more than they currently do.

For its Global Young Shopper Survey, researcher GfK polled more than 7,000 shoppers in Brazil, China, Germany, India, Italy, Russia, South Africa, South Korea, the UK and US and found little difference in the views of younger and older consumers as regards their future shopping habits.

Thus, for example, 72% of 16-21 year olds in the UK expected to shop in-store as much or more than they now do, compared to 75% of those aged 22 to 65. Comparable figures for the US were 82% of younger consumers and 86% of older.

GfK observed similar trends in developing markets but noted that the margins between young and older were greater. The greatest gap was evident in China, where 12 points separated the young (62%) and the older (50%), and India where the figure was nine points, with the young on 78% and the older on 69%.

Interestingly, the figures in these markets reversed those seen in developed markets, with the young more likely than the old to say they would shop more in-store in the future.

The apparent enthusiasm for shopping in bricks-and-mortar stores is largely driven by the view of shopping as a social activity. At least half of all the young people surveyed said they liked to visit shops with friends or family, a figure which reached 92% in China. "Stores can bring people together and provide a social experience in a way that a laptop or tablet simply can't," the report said.

But physical stores need to be complemented by online options, as young shoppers are increasingly agnostic about channels, simply expecting a "gold standard" omnichannel experience.

The report observed a consistent theme across all markets of young consumers being significantly more likely to see the benefit of buying from online stores that also have a bricks and mortar presence. In some markets up to one quarter claim to only buy from such outlets, reflecting a predilection for webrooming.

Another factor for young shoppers in developed markets is the cost of delivery of goods bought online, while in developing markets trust and security remain major concerns.

Data sourced from GfK; additional content by Warc staff