Digital is shaping a new world of shopping experiences
The future of the high street is much debated. What is clear, however, is the preference shown for online shopping over in-store by today’s teenagers. Sociable, savvy and looking for instant gratification, the next generation is quick to embrace new technology that makes life easier and more fun.
The latest findings from Amaze Generation, a five-year research study looking at the impact of technology on the behaviour and attitudes of 10-15 years-olds, shows that digital has become an intrinsic part of the shopping experience and how change on the high street is perceived as inevitable. A whole new world of shopping experiences is out there for the taking and the making.
More choice in the digital space
The study, now in its third year, reveals a bleak vision of the future of the high street by youngsters, with ‘showrooming’ expected to be its core function in the future. Almost all of the youngsters and teenagers had bought online, with three-quarters having expressed a clear preference for online shopping, perceiving there to be more choice in the digital space. Online shopping was also seen as easier and more convenient, with the main reason for shopping off-line given as the need to see items before purchasing.
A no-nonsense attitude abounds amongst this age group, leaving retailers little margin for error. Those that fail to capitalise on digital will be quickly left behind. The study reveals a clear, rational, unsympathetic view towards recent store closures, with participants showing they have little loyalty towards traditional retailers slow to keep up with the digital revolution. Those questioned felt that stores have closed “because of tastes and preferences of consumers” and that stores have “had to close down due to massive changes in how people use technology.”
Social shopping is the future
One of the biggest changes in the way youngsters shop is how social shopping and peer influence is playing an important part in the purchasing process, with friends and family playing a hugely influential role. Two-thirds of the group have shared a photo of items they were considering buying with friends and almost the entire group has done this while shopping online. Two-thirds have shared a photo whilst shopping in-store and have also read online product details and look at reviews.
The group make considered purchases even though they are typically spending small sums of money, with clothes and music shown to be the most popular online purchases and electronics, birthday cards and food also topping the bill.
Rather than shopping on the go, the group prefer to take onboard the thoughts of peers and purchase from home. The majority use a PC or laptop to buy online, with a third making purchases via tablets. Mobile is still to emerge as a shopping channel for this age group, with only one participant having made a purchase from their phone. The majority of the group spend up to £30 a month online but are likely to get permission from parents before purchasing, with three-quarters doing so all the time or depending on what they are buying.
Ease of use, convenience and choice
The process of shopping is changing forever and the trends shown in Amaze Generation give a unique insight into the future of online retail. The importance of social shopping and the influence of peers online is a huge factor that retailers and brands need to take into account to connect with this group of digital natives. It is interesting to see how the group uses technology as an easy way to share and decide what to buy, even when purchasing in-store. It will be interesting to see how this changes as technology plays an ever increasing role in the in-store experience.
Tunde Cockshott, Creative Consultant
About Amaze Generation
Launched in winter 2011, the five-year study closely follows a group of 10-15 year olds to understand their digital selves and examine the way they interact with and are being shaped by technology over time. Findings from previous phases of the study can be seen at www.amaze.com/amazegeneration.