The findings of the survey of 1,200 U.S. men and women ages 13 to 60 provide insights into the demands of the next generation buying audience and highlight the areas where retailers could influence brand advocacy.
Today's teenagers say they spend their time shopping on their mobile devices whether they are at home, on the move or in-store. They also prefer to use more self-service features than today's consumers and participate in communities and forums via social networks with consumers with similar interests. Teens expect their retailers to know them and all their transactions and deliver ads and promotions to them through social networking sites.
The study compared consumers aged 13 – 19, or “digital natives,” with today’s current shoppers, respondents in the 40-49 year old group. The survey found the digital natives to be:
· Almost four times as likely to consider it important for a retailer to provide a mobile app to use on their smartphone or tablet (52 versus 14 percent)
· Twice as likely to consider it important for a retailer to establish a forum for like-minded consumers to share ideas with each other (54 versus 26 percent)
· Twice as likely to be comfortable receiving ads and promotions from a retailer through a social networking site (64 versus 37 percent)
· Nearly 1.5 times as likely to consider it important for a retailer to keep track of all that they've purchased from the retailer (regardless of whether it was in the store, online, via the call center, etc.) (67 versus 48 percent)
· Nearly 1.5 times as likely to consider it important to provide self-service tools they can use in the store (80 versus 63 percent)
The study found that consumers are looking for a consistent brand experience, from start to finish, across all brand touchpoints. Cost and quality prevailed, where the two most important considerations for recommending a retailer were: “sells quality merchandise” (94 percent) and “offers fair/competitive prices” (93 percent). However, three of the next most important criteria were: the items they want to buy are in stock (91 percent); the retailer delivers a positive overall experience whether it’s in the store, over the Web, or via any combination of channels (90 percent); and that the retailer provides a convenient returns process (85 percent).
In the study, IBM asked a series of questions about the three phases of the brand experience: pre-purchase, purchase (checkout/payment), and post-purchase. The real surprise in the findings was the importance of the post-purchase process in molding the brand relationship and influencing brand advocacy. This phase includes product shipment, delivery, installation, customer support, problem resolution and returns. For example, the survey found:
· Nearly three-quarters of the respondents cited a retailer’s ability to deliver a positive post-purchase experience as important to very important for them to recommend a retailer to others.
· Nearly double the respondents chose the post-purchase experience as more important than the pre-purchase experience in forming a lasting opinion of a retailer (64 versus 36 percent).
· The post-purchase phase has the greatest potential to damage the brand relationship (46 percent) compared to the purchase and pre-purchase phases (38 and 16 percent, respectively).
· The post-purchase phase even has the ability to help a retailer recover from a poor pre-purchase experience, with 52 percent of respondents indicating that a positive post-purchase experience is likely to very likely to overcome a poor pre-purchase experience. [For those 13-19, 67 percent consider it likely to very likely to save the day.]
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