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Young shoppers use bricks AND clicks and are happy to share data to get an offer, study confirms

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While Britain’s love of the high street remains strong, the physical and virtual shopping worlds are merging as younger, tech savvy consumers increasingly use their smart phones to unearth the best deals – and they are happy to share their personal data in return for offers.

In a survey of 2,000 people commissioned by leading digital marketing company SmartFocus, almost two thirds of younger shoppers (61%) stated their online and physical purchasing habits are now more closely aligned – and nearly three quarters are using their smart-phone to browse, identify and buy more goods than previously.

By contrast, only 15% of those aged 55 or older use their smart-phones as part of their shopping routine. In fact, the study suggests that a substantial digital gap exists between generations, with Silver Surfers largely ignoring the benefits of tech-led shopping, while younger shoppers embrace them, especially the use of smart-phones. Younger shoppers, for instance, are most likely to spot something they would like to buy in store and then purchase it online.

Younger shoppers are more confident about exchanging their data for a more personalised shopping experience (61%) – and are three times more likely to do so than ‘Silver Surfers’. Millennials – shoppers aged between 16 and 24 – are three times more likely to be happy exchanging personal information than those in the 55+ bracket. They’re also more responsive to digital advertising, with two thirds likely to buy something if they were sent an email or a text that included a discount code for that particular item.

While shoppers have concerns about data privacy, the attraction of receiving a digital discount offer is enough to change most minds, the study says.

The survey does find, however, that, while the majority of consumers prefer to both shop and spend their money in bricks and mortar stores, most are also increasing their online shopping. Of those who browse in store before buying online, over three quarters (76%) do so to save money

Shoppers in Northern Ireland are behind the digital curve, with the majority strongly wedded to bricks and mortar shopping. They enjoy shopping and buying in stores more than any other region; they’re least likely to use smart-phones to identify and buy goods; they’re the least happiest to receive discount offers via email and/or text; and the least worried about data privacy issues when shopping.

Rob Mullen, SmartFocus CEO and retail marketing expert, observes: “With signs that economic growth is at last boosting consumer confidence, the survey demonstrates how canny and better informed shoppers have become. Using mobile phones and tablets to get the best deals around is becoming common place – gone are the days when retailers would simply put an item up for sale and rely on customers to come in and buy them.

“In today’s digital world, it’s about reaching out to shoppers via their key piece of technology – their mobile phone – and offering them relevant deals. The survey reinforces that fact that shoppers know the value of their personal data – and are willing to trade some of that, in return to getting access to discounted offers.

“Besides the sale in question, shoppers will also benefit via marketers being able to analyse their data – and discover previously unrecognised patterns of behaviour and more accurately predict future purchases they’re likely to make.”

The release of the survey comes on the day SmartFocus announces the acquisition of two key ‘big data’ technology marketing start-ups – Beacon technology specialist TagPoints and social media analyst Content Savvy.

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