Author: Andy Stringer, 20 November 2017

FSP had a team at MAPIC last week and so we followed the updates and read with interest the MAPIC headline that “Demographics” are the biggest challenge facing the retail sector, not e-commerce. The view being that Millennials present a brewing storm as they are not focused upon purchasing things – they crave ‘experiences’, instead. 

At FSP we do really buy into understanding demographics, of course retailers often call these demographics ‘customers’. For the team here, this has always been the case, whatever the age of the customer and we have watched quietly as their demands have twisted and turned over the years.

But first off a quick review of the ‘ages’ we are talking about here and there are no firm dates here so take these as ball park …

Shoppers in Bracknell

Millennials – were born from the early 1980’s into about 2000 (experts differ on the exact start and end date – but you get the idea) – these guys are now firmly of age, they typically range from those who have recently left university and into young family stage of life, they should be the core shopper, setting up home and family.

Either side of these we have Generation X – that’s me, born mid-60’s through to the start of the 80’s, we like decent music (!), we have typically well-established homes and probably have older children themselves close to, or already in, work or just at university.

My children also get their own brand name – they are Generation Z, born from 2000 when we saw a mini baby boom. They have grown up with the internet and digital is second nature to these guys – and for me this is the real time-bomb generation, those off to college now will end university with approaching £50k of debt up-front and will face a marketplace shaped by the uncertainty of Brexit as they graduate.

How each cohort has changed retailing is easy to forget, but in the UK Gen X ushered in the move away from the high street in favour of retail parks and regional shopping centres, there was no Sunday trading and half-day Wednesday was a fact when these guys started to shop. Retail really started to become a leisure event for many.

Gen Z, that’s my children, are the next challenge. They are just getting their first bank cards and part-time jobs and they offer a massive revolution in shopping traits but that impact is yet to mature of course, plus they will arrive to the market with all that education debt I mentioned. My son avoids the shops totally, I just get a neat list of requests via text, although my teenage daughter is much happier to hit the pavement and shop with the best of them.

Shoppers in The Lexicon

So now we know who we are talking about, we can step back – the best retail property decisions have always underpinned by the best insights into your customers and at FSP we can offer these insights for the UK, Ireland and the rest of Europe.

We have all the standard data sets from the various national census providers looking at age, income mobility, ethnicity and class, we also have targeted geo-demographics considering life stage. Further in-house analysis means we can offer insights on tourists and students across Europe whilst also plugging into the latest propensity models which tell us where these guys are shopping and spending their money and propriety brand segmentation models to identify who shops and eats where depending on their lifestage and mind-set for the purchase or restaurant visit.

Add that to FSP’s 40-plus years of retail experience and a team with retail side experience covering supermarkets, comparison goods and the restaurant sector, we can really help you to understand the biggest challenge facing the retail sector today.

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