Generation X and Y...

by Gemma Maidment on 29 May 2012
A few weeks ago we attended the 'Multichannel Mastery' from Ecommerce UK event, held in the beautiful One Moorgate Place. One of the speakers was Hash Ladha, the Deputy MD of Oasis and he had some brilliant bits of insight about retail customers and customer experience.

The X & Y generations

Essentially, the premise was based around understanding the split in the market between generation X and Y, and by accepting their general drivers and behaviours you can adapt marketing and business activities accordingly, resulting in more satisfied customers. So, generation Y is anyone born after 1980 and generation X are those born before 1980. (Personally I think there is also a split between those born during/after the 90's but he didn't go into that during this presentation) Essentially, generation X are rebels, they strived to be different, to make their mark and to do things that set them apart as individuals. Generation Y are conformists, and strive to fit in, hence the power of highstreet fashion trends and purchase decision are much more collaborative and 'peer' driven. Also, generation X knew they had to work for future success and were happy to do so, generation Y have grown up with instant gratification - this changes the ball park completely for retailers. Another interesting point that Hash discussed was that generation X are now trying to move more into the path of generation Y, and are desperately trying to adopt similar behaviours and needs.

Instant gratification

Retailers to date have tried to adapt their business models, marketing, and selling techniques from generation X to generation Y. But really, there needs to be much more drastic measures. Mobile has introduced a platform for instant gratification and truly multichannel retail, which generation Y strives for and the retailer that gets this right will gain a huge advantage over its competitors. Pure play retailers took this on board with great success, so the traditional bricks and mortar retailers need to catch up their customer experience to match the 'instant gratification' needs of generation Y.

Why look broadly at the differences in behaviours?

So, Hash found that by looking at the differences between the two generations there are clearly 2 key segments of shopper mentality, and so the delivery of customer experience needs to change to support this. Oasis have introduced a number of initiatives that are based purly on the needs of generation Y - 90 minute delivery being on of their most successfull, and intriducing a shadow board where employees of Oasis in generation Y are paired to a management board executive to help them think differently (and more like a generation Y) about the business. These are great initiatives, brought about by Oasis really trying to get into the mentality of their target market. Looking at this trend in general is an important starting point for understanding your customers overall mentality, as generation Y become more influential and generation X strive more and more to be like generation Y, any organisation that hasn't recognised and started to act on these trends will be left behind. The next step for retailers will be to look more closely at specific target customers and segments to see how they interact specifically with their brands and adapt digital customer experience and in-store touchpoints accordingly to innovate and deliver a seamless multichannel experience. It was a really interesting talk - what do you think about his findings?

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