Mar. 15, 2012, Boston — For boomers, the ideal shopping experience is
about getting a good deal on a decent product. For Gen Y, it's more
about a stimulating, sensual, "sharable" experience.
Think sensible shoes vs. smart phones.
This practicality divide is among the many discoveries in a new in-depth
study on retail by Brodeur Partners. The Brodeur Partners' Retail
Relevance 2012 Study used maximum difference scaling methodology to
precisely identify what is most and least relevant in a shopping
The study asked 2,000 American consumers to think of their favorite
place to shop and identify those elements that were most and least
"Put simply, younger shoppers view their ideal shopping experience as
less functional and much more social, expressive and sensory-driven,"
said Jerry Johnson, Brodeur's executive vice-president of strategic
planning. "Retail shopping is probably more intertwined with social
networking than we've realized. When a Gen Y consumer checks in to a
retailer on Foursquare or likes a retailer on Facebook, that's very
valuable to a retailer. Peers by nature are ready to have the experience
their friends just did."
- Sharability of the experience and "association" are twice as important to Gen Y (18-34) as to boomers (55-plus).
- Sensory appeal and the ability of a retailer to "make me smile" are one-third more important to Gen Y than to boomers.
- Practical decisions drive choice of retailers for eight out of 10 boomers, but only half of the Gen Y respondents.
Though sensory experiences clearly matter, Johnson warned retailers that
they can't simply barrage the Gen Y consumer with loud music, seductive
smells and images of beautiful bodies. The research indicates retailers
need to focus equally on the social aspects of the experience, and be a
brand with which a consumer would want to associate.
The survey builds upon relevance research Brodeur released a year ago,
which found that many companies have "leading relevance indicators," or
main ways consumers connect. For example, they may primarily excite
(Apple, Target and Red Bull) or communicate shared values (Ford) or
stand for dependability (Wal-Mart). High relevance scores correlate with
superior growth and performance, according to that research, even when a
company is dwarfed by industry juggernauts.
"Our agency focuses on relevance because it's unequivocally the most
important consideration for brands in our increasingly busy
communications environment," said Brodeur CEO Andy Coville.
Brodeur defines relevance as the full experience of an idea, product,
brand, candidate or cause, one that not only changes minds, but also
changes behavior. Although logic is part of it, relevance is equally a
function of values, sensory experiences and community impulses. Brodeur
helps clients improve their own relevance through quantitative and
qualitative research on these relevance components, and through
controlled trials of various communications approaches.
"Although we change the way our clients' audiences think," said Coville,
"we're ultimately focused more on changing what they do."