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Study Finds Stores Still Resonate With Younger Shoppers

Plenty of information has been swirling about the so-called screen-addicted Generation Z, that group of people born between 1996 and 2010, but a new study has discovered that these tech-savvy youths are still very much rooted in the real world.

According to insight published by market research firm iModerate, based on surveys with more than 800 consumers age 15 and older, Gen Z-ers said physical stores are an important part of their path to purchase—particularly trendy retailers that offer good deals.

Charlotte Russe and Forever 21, for example, match their price points and give them an opportunity to try on sizes and styles that are difficult to figure out online, while Sephora provides samples and demos. “On top of it all, they don’t want to pay for shipping or have to wait for products to arrive; in-store delivers the immediacy they crave with no added cost,” the study said.

One respondent, Jessica, said that while she may do some shopping online (if she can get free shipping), most of her purchases are at the mall, where she can play with colors and textures and try on the latest styles before deciding what to spend her money on.

Millennials, those consumers born between 1980 and 1995, have a similar stance. They favor big-box stores, such as Costco or Target, in order to save time and increase efficiency and often rely on coupons or rewards.

“Especially when purchasing products that consumers wear, shoppers want reassurance of their purchase through touching items and trying them on in the stores,” the study said. “Familiarity with a brand’s fit and styles may result in future online purchases, but the first in-store impression of the brand is critical for building loyalty.”

In fact, 74 percent of respondents said they believe it’s important to have a physical store, as opposed to being online only, and IModerate found this sentiment to be strongest among Millennials (82 percent) and Generation Z (80 percent). By comparison, only 69 percent of Gen X (1961-1979) and 65 percent of Baby Boomers (1946-1960) agreed.

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“One of brick-and-mortar’s greatest advantages over other channels is that there’s an opportunity for shoppers to interact with products, and that gives them the confidence they need to make a purchase,” iModerate CMO Adam Rossow said in a statement released Wednesday. “Retailers can take even small steps to capitalize on these exploratory shopping habits, such as creating close-up experiences with new styles, providing samples and demos, and ensuring there are ample mirrors and fitting rooms.”

The market research firm also found that the in-store experience matters most to consumers when they’re buying high-priced or specialty items, products they need help deciding on or understanding, or when they’re in a hurry.

And while big-box chains are likely affected by e-commerce—Amazon, in particular—more than other types of stores because they sell commodity products, the study found that they still appeal to busy shoppers who want quick, one-stop-shopping.

“When it comes to big-box stores, providing a consistent brand experience across every store is essential,” Rossow continued. “Retailers should identify the locations that best uphold their brand promise, figure out what consumers love about them and implement those best practices across all of their locations to the best of their ability.”