Next Gen in e-commerce: what digital natives expect from retailers

Fatih-Kağan Taşkoparan

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What do 18 to 25-year-olds expect from retail? A new Study commissioned by the German E-Commerce and Mail Order Association (BEVH) sheds light on how digital natives will shop in the future.

The so-called "digital natives", i.e. the generation that has grown up with digital technologies, will be a challenge for e-commerce in particular, but also for brick-and-mortar retail. This is the result of a study conducted by the University of Rostock on behalf of the German E-Commerce and Mail Order Association (BEVH), which surveyed around 1,000 people. "In the data, we see a new generation that is very value-conscious when it comes to shopping, but is far less 'disruptive' than widely assumed," says Martin Groß-Albenhausen, Deputy Managing Director of the BEVH, commenting on the results of the study. Digital natives are a generation that thinks about the protection of personal data and the environment. "However, they are quite pragmatic, do not cultivate social romanticism and are open to new technologies in retail."

Social media is changing the buying process: Instagram and YouTube ahead of TikTok

When digital natives look for inspiration while shopping, around 55% turn to social networks: Instagram is the most important channel for inspiration with 62%. YouTube is generally the most popular platform with 94%. Only 20 percent of them allow influencers to influence their purchasing decisions.

Digital natives also have a low level of customer loyalty. They are characterized by a high willingness to switch retailers. Only 19% of respondents have a sense of belonging to a particular retailer and only 18% would consider writing a positive review for one of the products they have purchased. 

Gender gap in sustainable consumption

In principle, ecologically and socially responsible consumption is a matter of course for most young people, and they also actively seek out companies that share these values. However, when it comes to sustainable consumption, there is a contradiction between aspiration and reality: 80 percent stated that they are concerned about the wasteful use of existing resources. However, only a small proportion are prepared to accept inconvenience in order to shop in a more environmentally friendly way - 40% of women and 26% of men. "The desire to consume more sustainably is often not reflected in actual behavior. In this context, retailers should try to reduce this gap. Research shows that simply providing information about transparent working conditions and environmental compatibility in the product manufacturing process can turn a positive intention into more positive purchasing behavior," explains Prof. Dr. Christian Brock from the University of Rostock, who conducted the study.