Younger Shoppers Prioritize Technology As Part Of Modern Retail Experiences: CRI Research
June 29, 2023 by Dave Haynes
Retail-focused solutions provider Creative Realities has pushed out the findings of research on the role technology plays in what consumers would consider a “modern” shopping experience, breaking it down by different industries and generational preferences.
Not surprisingly, younger, digitally-native shoppers are driving a push away from the traditionally sought-after qualities of convenient location, clean and comfortable stores, and friendly employees, the new study finds. Gen Z consumers, for example, represent the group most likely to seek technology-enabled, self-service solutions.
CRI worked with the third-party survey platform Pollfish on a study run last month and involving some 1,000 U.S. adults.
What we found, writes CRI’s Beth Warren in a summary, were some notable generational differences in shopper preferences that indicate an emerging shift in what that in-store experience could look like.
We weren’t surprised to learn that Gen Z is the generation most likely to seek technology-enabled, self-service solutions compared to other consumers; they’ve been telling us this. What was surprising was how much more they seem to prioritize these things over more traditionally expressed shopping preferences. For example, Gen Z are significantly less demanding of the traditionally sought-after brick-and-mortar shopper experiences, like an organized and neat store or a convenient location.
- A full half (50%) of their parent’s generation, Gen X, expressed that a pleasant physical environment is a must-have for a positive shopping experience.
- In comparison, roughly only one in four (29%) of younger pollsters (Gen Z) expressed a strong preference for a well-organized physical store as a must-have part of a positive shopping experience.
The Gen Z shopper is twice as likely to classify things like self-checkouts and self-service kiosks as must-haves (see chart at top).
- A third of Gen Z shoppers said self-checkout technology was a must-have part of the modern shopping experience, compared to just 16% of Gen X shoppers saying the same thing.
- That was also true for self-serve kiosks, with twice as many Gen Z shoppers (13%) saying they were something they had to have as Gen X shoppers (7%).
That’s the importance of technology doubling in the space of just two generations, indicating that businesses still on the fence about further integrating these kinds of technologies into the shopping experience are in danger of being left behind.
“We’ve had an anecdotal awareness of the generational differences present in shopper preferences, but this survey puts that reality into hard numbers,” notes Warren, CRI’s SVP Marketing. “Younger shoppers are compelled more by convenience and autonomy, whereas their older counterparts still place a high value on various contextual elements, things like pleasant human interactions with knowledgeable employees and well-designed store layouts. That doesn’t mean younger shoppers don’t want those things, but it was surprising where they fell on their list of priorities.”
Other key findings:
- Respondents are generally positive about the overall impact of technology on the shopping experience. More than 75% feel that technology makes shopping better, but there is some variance between the types of shoppers.
- While clean stores, friendly employees, low prices, and a convenient location continue to be important factors in why someone picks where they shop, the modern shopping experience is becoming more technology-driven for all shoppers.
- How people feel technology impacts their shopping experience depends on where they are shopping.
Respondents are generally positive about the overall impact of technology on the in-store shopping experience. More than 75% feel that technology makes shopping better.
Broadly, respondents considered technology a net positive on the shopping experience, 75% saying that it made it better. But when we looked at them by shopper type, we saw some interesting variations.
I found this chart interesting – suggest that the biggest impacts of tech-driven customer experience are realized in healthcare, while c-stores are the least impactful. I am guessing at least some of that owes to dwell time and the mindsets of consumers in those moments. With c-stores, people are just getting something or other. With healthcare, something is up with the consumer or someone they know.