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Millennials empowered by mobile, social to dictate path to purchase: report

Young consumers increasingly see the act of researching and browsing for a purchase more compelling than the purchase itself, according to a new report from The Intelligence Group.

The firm’s latest Cassandra Report reveals that one-third of respondents believe that browsing for items is more fun than actually purchasing them, while approximately half say they browse for items they do not necessarily plan on buying. With mobile and social technology both a means for millennials to express their strong sense of collaboration as well as driving an expanding ability to access information on the go, the findings suggest that retailers who continue to rely on traditional means of attracting and retaining new customers are likely to fall behind.

“Brick-and-mortar retailers need to integrate mobile into their offerings as much as possible to provide a more streamlined and manageable in-store experience,” said Jamie Gutfreund, chief strategy officer of The Intelligence Group, Los Angeles.

“Forty-one percent want to be able to gather loyalty points or savings on their mobile device as they shop in-store, 38 percent want to receive real-time promotions on their mobile device while they shop, 32 percent would like to use a product locator on their mobile device to find items while shopping in-store and 25 percent want to be able to pay with their phone at checkout.”

The Intelligence Group’s survey of 1,300 consumers 14 to 34 years old found that technology is having an impact on product consumption as they become more mobile, which gives them the power to dictate their own paths to purchase.

Overwhelmingly, young people use their mobile devices to browse, research and connect even while they are in a store making a purchase decision.

Young consumers continue to redefine the shopping experience because they crave the experience of shopping more than the purchase, according to the report. In other words, online exploration is becoming more than a means to an end, with many young shoppers relating that ecommerce has become its own form of entertainment.

The Intelligence Group calls this phenomenon “Fauxsumerism.”

Pinterest helps make the shopping journey an act of personal expression

Sharing economy
The growth of social platforms such as Pinterest, which helps users catalog prospective purchases by curating collections of items of interest, make the shopping journey an act of personal expression as much as a path to purchase. Accordingly, the report found that 40 percent of young consumers make wish lists of products they want to buy.

The suggests that marketers need to shift their mindset from the traditional return-on-investment method to one more focused on building relationships with shoppers by helping them fuel their expression and partnering with shoppers to help them establish their own personal brand.

Millennials also prefer use over ownership, with 35 percent of respondents saying they would rather pay full price to access an item when they need it as opposed to owning it.

These shoppers  prefer renting, sharing and bartering above buying things and are driving a new “sharing economy.”

Mobile services and apps such as Spotify and Airbnb, and start-ups such as Relapse Clothing, among many others, have taken hold to support this new sharing economy.

The long view
When young consumers do make a purchase, they are more likely to take a longer view than previous generations. For example, 36 percent are likely to make purchases that are only “really necessary” while 72 percent research online before making an in-store purchase.

Additionally, 44 percent consider the resale value of items when making a big purchase. Millennials also show a preference for brands that make it easy for them to repair, reuse and/or recycle the goods they consume.

The results also underscore the importance of cross-channel consistency, with 56 percent saying it is important that sales and prices in-store and online are consistent, 41 percent saying it is important that inventory online matches inventory in-store, 26 percent feeling it is important that the brand identity online matches the feel of the in-store experience and 20 percent saying it is important that a retailer offers mobile apps that inform the in-store experience.

“Consistency across channels improves conversion,” Ms. Gutfreund said. “Young consumers expect to be able to switch seamlessly between online, offline, and mobile.

“The retailers that easily enable this create a more direct path to purchase,” she said.

Final Take
Chantal Tode is associate editor on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York