What physical retail must do to get young consumers back in-store

2020 has been a difficult year for in-store retail so far due to the impact of COVID-19, but there is increasing optimism as shops reopen and social life resumes. Now, for brands marketing to Gen Z, the challenge is to convince digital native customers to get back to in-store shopping, and overcome the fears instilled by months of ‘stay at home’ messaging.

Our latest survey of Student Beans users, conducted before shops reopened in the UK in June, found they were more worried than excited about the prospect of a return to in-store shopping. 65% were concerned that the reopening of non-essential stores would cause a rise in infections, and 38% were worried about catching coronavirus themselves if they go shopping. Taking these issues into consideration, here’s what we recommend retailers must do to attract young people back to physical stores.

Giving young people the confidence to shop in physical stores.

Safety first

Gen Z are already an anxious group, even in normal times, and they need brands to demonstrate that they can trust them before they become loyal customers. During the pandemic, this means stores need to follow all the safety guidelines set out by the government, and make clear to customers what they can expect. Make use of marketing channels, advertising campaigns and in-store branding to reassure customers, so that they can relax and enjoy the shopping experience.

Make shopping fun again

In recent months, shopping has become associated with stressful situations such as queueing outside supermarkets and fighting for the last toilet roll. In normal times, it’s the experience that makes young people choose to shop in-store even when online alternatives are available, so bringing back the fun elements of physical retail will help to remind customers of the positive associations they previously had. While some experiential retail trends such as live events are not currently appropriate, why not consider interactive activities that customers can take part in using their phone while in-store?

Coronaphobia: how can brands encourage young shoppers to return to physical retail stores?

Take the stress out of shopping

Rather than trying to convince customers to come to your store when it’s crowded, instead help them find a time to visit when they’ll be able to shop stress-free. Use channels such as social media and email to provide up-to-date advice on the least busy times to shop. Consider how you could make use of tech innovations, perhaps taking inspiration from the innovative app that gives customers real-time updates on supermarket capacity and stock availability.

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