If someone told you that young people in their 20s and early 30s prefer to spend less time on digital devices and platforms, would you believe it?
You’d probably question the sanity of the person offering that information.
But dig into a new report from WSL Strategic Retail, and you’ll discover a credible case for this and other surprising contentions about Generation Y.
This report, “How America Shops 2016,” finds that younger consumers want to recapture more of their time. They yearn for simpler lives through more efficient use of their phones, email, social media and other things.
And it’s not just about digital; they even want to spend less time on activities involving their children, and definitely on shopping. You can read more about this report here.
Truthfully, many of these findings don’t describe Millennials I know. That may be because these newer behaviors are still emerging. But if I’m clueless, I’m not alone.
“Retailers are surprised by this,” Wendy Liebmann, CEO and chief shopper of WSL, told me in an interview. “Everyone is running around talking about Millennials. But they don’t really understand these issues.”
Let’s examine why the findings do mesh with what we know about this generation. It’s no secret that Gen Y cares a lot about health and wellness. When WSL conducted a research piece two years ago, health and wellness figured heavily in the findings, and the No. 1 concern was stress from daily lives, especially for parents of younger children.
“That was the first inkling we had about how stress impacted Millennials, and this latest research is a follow-up, to see how they are beginning to take stress out of their lives,” Liebmann said.
They are de-stressing by trying to do things more efficiently, including shopping. And they are platform-agnostic in choosing their shopping outlets. It could be online shopping with delivery, or click and collect, for example. Or, they could pick Costco for a big shop, and a retailer on the corner for dinner tonight. The decisions rely on what makes their lives simpler and better.
In this issue SN presents its annual feature called The Growth List, which examines 10 big food retailers quickly adding physical stores.
The companies profiled include Walmart, Whole Foods, Acme, Publix, Kroger, Aldi, Smart & Final, Save-A-Lot, Sprouts and Dollar General. Are these retailers poised for growth in coming years as well?
It largely depends on how well they understand what’s driving younger shoppers. Here are a few tips for retailers from Liebmann:
• Make the supermarket easier to shop and navigate. It’s not necessarily helpful to put the milk in the back of the store.
• Understand it’s not just about price or the best deal, but helping shoppers use their time well.
• Aim to make shoppers happy. WSL found the two outlets topping the consultancy’s “Feel Good” score for women are Amazon and Publix. Those two brands couldn’t be any more different from each other, but they’ve each figured it out in their own way.
One more point about Millennials. In case you think their behaviors will eventually morph into those of their parents or grandparents, forget it.
“We don’t see that,” Liebmann said. “This is a group that’s grown up in very different times.”
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