Digital Generation Will Pose New Demands on Retailers

BURLINGAME, Calif. In the retailing world of 2015, consumers will define the values they are seeking in the marketplace and will require retailers to figure out how to fulfill those values, Lois Huff, senior vice president of TNS Retail Forward, Columbus, Ohio, told an industry audience here. Connections, not just transactions, will be scrutinized, she said. Consumers will be more critical, and they

BURLINGAME, Calif. — In the retailing world of 2015, consumers will define the values they are seeking in the marketplace and will require retailers to figure out how to fulfill those values, Lois Huff, senior vice president of TNS Retail Forward, Columbus, Ohio, told an industry audience here.

“Connections, not just transactions, will be scrutinized,” she said. “Consumers will be more critical, and they will judge you on how you connect with them.”

Speaking at a Retail Forward-sponsored seminar entitled “Retail 2015: New Frontiers,” Huff said retailers will face a new generation gap over the next eight years as the influence of the Baby Boomers subsides and is replaced by the different outlook of the new “digital” generation.

That generation will demand that retailers give them the information and the tools they need, and then step back and just let shoppers drive the process, Huff said.

“This new generation will downsize its homes, its family structure and its pocketbooks, and it will spend more parsimoniously,” she explained. “It will have less buying power than the Boomers and be more fragmented, and it will be more challenging for retailers to reach.

“It will want products that are smaller, locations that are closer and services that are personalized.

“It will require retailers to be more narrow in their focus, to provide something that's unique and different and that allows the individual to be more involved, and it will want retailers to provide more ‘do it for me’ services.”

Among the changes that will occur in the next eight years, she said, are a wider gap between older and younger shoppers, with 11 million consumers under age 35 and 20 million Baby Boomers over age 50.

The non-white population will increase, accounting for 50% of the younger generation, and nontraditional family structures will become more prevalent, she pointed out.

In the workplace, the retirement of many Boomers and the inexperience of younger workers will force a redeployment among the labor force, with younger workers forced to shoulder heavier burdens to maintain existing productivity levels.