The Buyers: Teen Retail Engagement

18. August 2017.

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It can be argued that some of the toughest buyers to keep in mind when planning out retail strategies are teenagers. With each passing decade, the buying patterns of teens undoubtedly and unequivocally see a shift alongside the advances in technology. While one day a teen may be into shopping strictly online, another day may see an offline preferred experience or a mixture of both, and retailers must be at the ready to transform engagement efforts at any given time.

In each new step toward streamlining the retail process by adding in new technologies, retailers may be surprised to learn that teens, also known as Generation Z, are more apt to favor offline retail experiences. It turns out that retailers geared toward this younger demographic are having a tough time engaging them online. According to Engagement Labs’ “Leaders in Social Influence” report, rankings of the top teenage retail brands have shown that teen engagement is occurring more so in face-to-face conversations than in online engagements. In this study, teen-focused retailers were analyzed to learn more about this group of shoppers.

Teens, which some may often view as digital natives, are proving to be an interesting conundrum for retailers to tap into. While Engagement Labs’ research showed the two groups most influenced by social media include millennials (57 percent) and Generation Z (80 percent), the lack of engagement for teens online may be raising some red flags for the retail industry.

Engagement Labs’ CEO Ed Keller highlights the opportunity that social presents for retailers looking to connect with teens. “By having a holistic view and identifying the areas that need improvement, brands will be able to connect with consumers and remain part of their conversations, both online and offline,” Keller said. “These teen retailers have an opportunity to increase sales and improve its online performance by developing strategies and campaigns that encourage social media conversations.”

One area of particular importance for retailers to focus on when it comes to teens is the mobile device. Research shows that conversion rates for teen shoppers on mobile is twice as high as any other demographic today. This sales conversion does however entirely depend on the loading speed and navigation of the retailer’s app. According to ContentSquare research, 60 percent of this young generation will not use an app or website if it loads slowly, while 62 percent give up if moving around the app is confusing.

Teens also want a more personalized experience where brands take a more proactive approach in each interaction. ContentSquare’s CEO Jonathan Cherki commented to Retail Dive on this generation’s mobile-influenced lifestyle and how it may benefit retailers. “Digital experience is the language of Generation Z, with mobile and web interfaces their natural habitats,” Cherki said. “This choosy, demanding new generation visits 62 percent more pages in a session than the rest of the population and converts twice as much online as the rest of us. They want companies to woo them, to create a personal, immersive digital world for them to play – and shop– in, and that’s what we must do.”

As it appears to be, catering to teen shoppers is a rough task for most retailers. So while teens are heavily influenced by social media and have a high mobile sales conversion rate, this group also prefers face-to-face conversations and personalized experiences. Seamless transference of consumer knowledge is something that will probably need to occur to help engage this group of young buyers. Whether it’s mobile, social or inside a brick-and-mortar location, it seems that teens are looking for the retail relationship to invisibly collect data about them to provide a tailored experience across channels.

In today’s buyers news, research unveiled by software company Pegasystems shows that consumers are opening up to AI-powered customer experiences but only if retailers can provide more transparency, data privacy and a human-like aspect. The study’s data showed that 70 percent of consumers are OK with AI assisting them with everyday tasks, but there is an expectation that retailers maintain an upfront interaction.

Meanwhile, retail sales for July increased 0.6 percent, which is said to be the largest spike in 2017, according to the U.S. Commerce Department. The main reason for this significant jump in July comes from non-merchant stores, which saw an 11.5 percent year-over-year increase from 2016. This means that more people are moving their shopping to the online arena.

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