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Gen Y shops with their senses, Gen Z with their cents

Boston - A new study by Brodeur Partners finds what it calls "a practicality divide" between Boomers and 18- to 34-year-old shoppers.
"For Boomers, the ideal shopping experience is about getting a good deal on a decent product. For Gen Y, it's more about a stimulating, sensual, ‘sharable' experience," according to the strategic communications company. "Think sensible shoes vs. smart phones."
The study of 2,000 American consumers found that when it comes to retail outlets:
• Sharability of the experience and "association" (I'm ok if people know I'm associated with it) are twice as important to Gen Y (18-34) as to Boomers (55-plus).
• Sensory appeal and the ability of a retailer to "make me smile" are one-third more important to Gen Y than to Boomers.
• Practical decisions drive choice of retailers for 8 out of 10 Boomers, but only half of the Gen Y respondents.
"Put simply, younger shoppers view their ideal shopping experience as less functional and much more social, expressive and sensory-driven," said Jerry Johnson, Brodeur's executive vp of strategic planning.
Johnson said retailers who want to appeal to Gen Y consumers should concentrate on the social aspects of the shopping experience as well as brands with which younger consumers would want to associate.
The survey builds upon research Brodeur released a year ago that found that many companies have "leading relevance indicators," or main ways consumers connect. Some primarily excite (Apple, Target and Red Bull) or communicate shared values (Ford) or stand for dependability (Wal-Mart).

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