future thinkers update

High Street v Online

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Retailers must develop high street presence as well as online to attract young buyers  
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Youngsters enjoy both traditional and online shopping

The conventional wisdom that the development of internet services is being driven exclusively by younger generations does not fit with the reality in retailing.
An extensive study of buying behaviour by consumer research specialist Intersperience found that while young people see clear benefits in using the internet for comparison purposes they have not switched to shopping online exclusively – and show no signs of doing so in the foreseeable future.
While they see clear benefits of online shopping in terms of convenience, price and speed they also enjoy visiting stores to be able to touch products and browse.
Another reason that the high street is competing more strongly with the internet is that price differentials between online and offline are beginning to narrow significantly.
While the ability to touch goods they want to buy is important to the older generation, they are more prepared to make compromises and order online – although they fret about delivery delays and security issues. In weighing up the pros and cons they ultimately prefer the convenience of internet shopping, especially for books and electronic goods, and the fact it is perceived as less stressful than battling along the crowded high street.
One area in which all ages use the internet fairly equally is to research products they want to buy. However, word-of-mouth remains the biggest influence on spending decisions overall, proving more popular than consumer review and price comparison sites.
The younger generation clearly appreciate the high street experience and have evolved lives that neatly combine the benefits of online with those of store shopping. This reinforces the need for retailers to combine both channels in an effective way.
The internet and the high street should not be viewed as separate businesses but promoted as a ‘joined-up’ shopping experience. The young cannot be solely characterised as ‘the net generation’ – they are much more sophisticated than that.

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