Demographic Retail Real Estate Trend Offers New Chances and Challenges
Meet the Cybrids, the youngest subset of the mammoth Millennial generation. Walter Loeb, former head of the NRF, retail consultant and blogger identified this distinct demographic in his blog (http://www.forbes.com/sites/walterloeb/2014/12/08/beware-all-retailers-todays-youthful-customer-are-cybrids/) at the end of last year. The name seems to be sticking to what looks like the next wave of trend makers who will shape the future of retailing.
Who are the Cybrids?
First and foremost, these 15-20-year-olds are the first true digital natives. Their gaze has been fixed on some type of electronic screen almost from birth. Technology is seamlessly integrated into every aspect of their lives and they are connected 24/7. This tech relationship is what separates them from preceding generations – even from older Millennials. As might be expected, they are early adopters of the newest devices and apps, and tech products are always at the top of their shopping lists. Cybrids, in fact, prioritize tech over any other retail category, including apparel. And perhaps surprisingly, this is the preference of both males and females in the Cybrid demographic.
The Cybrid Shopper: Opportunity and Challenge
The rise of the Cybrid shopper brings opportunities and challenges for retailers and retail real estate. First, the opportunity: this is a group who’s been called consummate omnichannel consumers. They do shop – a lot – at all hours – and spend freely on categories that interest them (keep an eye on sales of the new Apple watch). Next, the challenges: they make the majority of their purchases online, after price checking and consulting with friends. Bricks-and-mortar stores are for social outings and “showrooming” and are typically visited with phone or tablet in hand for researching all available data on any item that appeals. They display minimal brand loyalty and tend to ignore or rebel against fashion trends. They resist influences such as traditional advertising, relying instead on the opinions of friends, social networks, and YouTube personalities. Price promotion is one of the few conventional tactics that moves them.
Winning Over the Cybrid Shopper: Retail’s Response
The power of these young Millennials will grow as they mature and move into jobs and build careers. Their consuming patterns may modify, but one thing about them is unlikely to change: the integration of technology into their lives. Retailers are already recognizing and responding to this new breed of buyer. Immediate responses include: creating and maintaining robust websites, strategic use of social media – including newer platforms like Vine and Snapchat, incorporating mobile wallets into payment systems, and managing “big data.”
Like all the Millennial generation, Cybrids seek immediate gratification. This is one area in which bricks-and-mortar establishments have an edge over online (at least for now), affording shoppers the opportunity to bring home their purchases immediately. For less portable items, innovative retailers are experimenting with same-day delivery methods. Store hours are another area in which we may see changes to accommodate Cybrid patterns.
Now that they’ve been “discovered,” the focus on Cybrids will doubtlessly increase. Expect more studies and insights on a young generation that’s shopping by their own rules.