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Walker Sands’ 2019 Future of Retail Report – The Paradox Between Convenience and Connection for Millennial Buyers

Katie Pratt

Katie Pratt

Gyms, casual dining, canned tuna and retail all share one unlikely, yet important common denominator: they’re all being redefined by those darn millennials.

All jokes aside, as the generation projected to overtake Baby Boomers in population size in 2019, brands and retailers can no longer afford to ignore millennials’ purchasing power and the experiences they crave.

Since 2013, our Future of Retail reports have studied some of the most significant developments in retail, commerce and the supply chain, such as voice commerce and the impact of Amazon on consumers and the industry. But this year, our 2019 Future of Retail report takes a deep dive into how consumer lifestyle preferences impact their shopping habits, especially among younger generations.

We found that all purchase decisions come down to two factors: convenience and connection. Consumers, especially younger ones, are buying less and want to feel more of a connection with the items they buy and the brands they shop with. But at the same time, the influx of technology in retail has driven consumers of all ages to expect a connected, convenient experience that seamlessly aligns with their everyday lives. This paradox serves as an opportunity for brands and retailers to focus on using their channels — whether it’s online, mobile or in-store — to facilitate a deeper connection that’s worth having for their customers.

Interested in learning more? Take a look at our key findings from the 2019 Future of Retail report below, and check back for two more blog posts that dig into other important insights.

  • Consumers have grown comfortable shopping online and are placing bigger bets on the convenience it provides. Amazon and other leaders’ ability to build trust and provide exceptional, convenient experiences online has played a large part in consumers feeling more comfortable spending big online. In fact, 46% of consumers say they are more open to purchasing a big-ticket item, like a car or a grill, online than they were a year ago. That number is even higher for those 18-25 (51%) and 26-35 (56%).
  • Author and Netflix star Marie Kondo’s advice to tidy up may be “sparking joy” with the younger generations. Although younger consumers are about to have more buying power, they’re less interested in material possessions than their parents. In fact, 72% of consumers ages 18-35 say they are buying less than they used to because they are more conscious of keeping a clean, organized lifestyle. As a result, sustainable options are becoming increasingly important — 65% of consumers in this age group are at least somewhat more likely to buy from a brand or retailer committed to sustainability.
  • Despite the rise of online, consumers still crave brick-and-mortar experiences. Free and fast shipping continue to be the number one driver of more online purchases for the sixth year in a row, but a fourth of consumers (25%) feel more connected with brands when they go in store. This is especially true for younger consumers, with 59% of those ages 18-25 say they prefer a branded experience for clothing and apparel. There’s an opportunity for brands and retailers to leverage the combination of convenience and connection to drive commerce forward.

To learn more about the parallel between convenience and connection and how you can cater to the lifestyles of today’s consumers, download the full Walker Sands 2019 Future of Retail report here. And check back for the second installment of our three-part blog series.