Millennials value brick and mortar stores more than boomers, finds study

27 June 2019 2 min. read
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A recent survey found that, surprisingly enough, “digital native” Gen Z’s and millennials value brick and mortar stores more highly than their parents and grandparents. The global study – conducted by Oracle NetSuite, Wakefield Research, and retail sector consultancy The Retail Doctor – polled 1,200 consumers and 400 retail execs across the US, UK, and Australia.

Despite inclinations that younger consumers will only buy products on their iPhones rather than risk venturing into a store, the survey found that Gen Z and millennial shoppers were the most likely generations to do more in-store shopping this year, at 43% of respondents. Only 13% of baby boomers, meanwhile, said they would do more in-store shopping.

Gen Z and millennials (57%) also had the most positive view of the retail environment, finding it more inviting than older generations (compared to 40% of Gen X and 27% of boomers).

Millennials value brick and mortar stores more than boomers

"After all the talk about brick and mortar stores being dead, it's interesting to see that 'digital natives' are more likely to increase their shopping in physical stores this year than any other generation," Greg Zakowicz, senior commerce marketing analyst, Oracle NetSuite, said. "Stepping back, these findings fit with broader trends we have been seeing around the importance of immediacy and underlines why retailers cannot afford to make assumptions about the needs and expectations of different generations.”

Gen Z shoppers are less receptive to in-store interactions, with 42% feeling more annoyed by increased interactions with retail associates. Millennials (56%), Gen X (44%), and boomers (43%), however, said they would feel more welcomed by increased in-store interactions.

Though 79% of retail executives think AI and VR in stores will boost sales, the study found that consumers overall aren’t particularly enthused by the emerging tech. Only 14% of consumers said AI and VR would have a significant impact on their purchasing decisions. Emerging technology was most attractive to millennial shoppers (50%), and least attractive to boomers (20%).

And while 98% of retail execs believe social media is important to building stronger relationships with customers, the survey found a big disconnect across generations. Overall, only 12% said engagement with brands on social media has a significant impact on how they feel about a brand.

Thirty-eight percent of Gen Z consumers said they engage with retailers on social media to get to know the brand, compared to 25% of millennials and 21% of boomers. Boomers, predictably, are least receptive to social media, with 53% reporting they do not engage with brands on social media.