Customers' Generational Differences Regarding In-Store Shopping Experiences

Customers' Generational Differences Regarding In-Store Shopping Experiences

Angelo Bonfanti (University of Verona, Italy)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-7856-7.ch006

Abstract

This chapter aims to identify customers' needs in regard to in-store shopping experiences and to examine these results with specific reference to generational differences between the senior and younger customers. This exploratory study followed a qualitative approach based on semi-structured interviews conducted through focus groups. Specifically, four sessions were organized with 24 Italian customers, of whom 12 were baby boomers and 12 were millennials, who were frequent visitors to retail stores to undertake shopping activities. The pleasure, arousal, and dominance (PAD) model was used to explain customers' needs in regard to in-store shopping experiences. The research contributes to the current literature on both a theoretical and managerial level. From a theoretical perspective, it identifies customers' needs in regard to in-store shopping experiences with particular attention devoted to the generational perspective. In managerial terms, this study provides retailers with suggestions on possible strategic paths to be taken to create a personalized in-store shopping experience.
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Introduction

The increasing pervasiveness of technology and social media is revolutionising the retail industry (e.g., Grewal et al., 2017) and forcing retailers to consider effective strategies to gain competitive advantage (e.g., Kumar et al., 2017). This need is largely driven by the fact that increasing numbers of customers around the world are choosing to purchase products online through smartphones and tablets, by also spending important amounts for purchase of these products (e.g., Misra et al., 2017; Priporas et al., 2017). Consequently, both practitioners and retail management scholars are devoting more attention to online shopping experiences, rather than analysing how retailers can create positive experiences for their customers in traditional channels. Thus, the following question arises: can retailers neglect traditional channels in favour of the web channel? The answer to this question is negative because stores are and will continue to be very important for customers because to go shopping in the store is something that customers cannot experience through other channels. Therefore, it is crucial that retailers invest in in-store shopping experience management.

The in-store shopping experience is not a new topic in retail management literature. Many scholars have examined this topic by focusing on specific factors related to shopping experiences in traditional channels (e.g., Bonfanti, 2017; Lemon & Verhoef, 2016; Pennington, 2016; Solis, 2015; Stein and Ramaseshan, 2016; Terblanche, 2018; Teufel and Zimmermann, 2015; Zentes et al., 2016), such as service quality (Terblanche & Boshoff, 2006; Xu-Priour & Cliquet, 2013), merchandise quality (Grewal et al., 2009; Terblanche & Boshoff, 2006), variety of assortment (Terblanche & Boshoff, 2006), product prices (Grewal et al., 2009; Terblanche & Boshoff, 2006), convenience (Sathish & Venkatesakumar, 2011), store environment design (Bagdare, 2013; Bonnin & Goudey, 2012; Castaldo & Mauri, 2017; Sachdeva & Goel, 2015), store atmosphere (Sathish & Venkatesakumar, 2011; Vukadin et al., 2016; Zaghi, 2014), emotions (Bagdare & Jain, 2013; Cachero-Martínez & Wzquez-Casielles, 2017; Sachdeva & Goel, 2015), personal interaction (Bagdare, 2013; Sathish & Venkatesakumar, 2011; Terblanche & Boshoff, 2004; Xu-Priour & Cliquet, 2013) and cutting-edge in-store technology (Adil & Khalid, 2015; Choi et al., 2015; Zagel, 2016). Therefore, the in-store shopping experience can result from many factors that can be traced from many different academic articles. These factors together create a personalised in-store shopping experience. To better understand how to generate this personalised experience, retailers can consider changes in shoppers’ behaviours. More precisely, retailers can examine the development of customers’ needs in relation to how they undertake their shopping. In addition, it may also be interesting to investigate the differences existing among different generations.

Key Terms in this Chapter

In-Store Shopping Experience: It includes a set of sensory, cognitive/intellectual, emotional/affective, social and physical/behavioral elements that customers can perceive when they go shopping in the store.

Millennials or Generation Y: They are people born between 1981 and 1995 who are an eternally connected generation, are very receptive and open, have little interest in politics, are attentive to image and are tolerant.

Customer’s Needs: Needs that reside deeply in the customer’s psyche and tend to be subconscious and global.

Indispensable (Must Be) Needs: Implicit needs that customers consider as obvious and that they do not communicate expressly.

PAD Model: PAD is a model of environmental psychology developed to describe and measure emotional states. More specifically, it describes human perceptions and experiences of the physical environment in relation to pleasure, arousal, and dominance dimensions.

(Dis)Confirmation Paradigm: Customers compare their perceptions with expectations when they judge the service of a company. Confirmation paradigm happens when customer expectations are exceeded in terms of satisfaction or even delight. Disconfirmation paradigm happens if customers are dissatisfied.

One-Dimensional Needs: Expected needs by customers who usually explicitly require.

Attractive Needs: Customers usually are unaware of not expected needs. Customers do not think or do not know that meeting these latent needs could be useful or rewarding for them.

Baby Boomers: They are people born between 1946 and 1965. They are a generation strongly oriented to work, career, political and civil commitment and independence, with a medium-high education. They are devoted to concreteness, have important economic resources and hold positions of prestige.

Customer’s Expectations: Predictions or probabilities that are aware, accessible, and specific in nature.

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