IBM: Future Consumers to Seek Self-Service, Personalization

Consumers of the future will be looking for self-service opportunities and increased personalization, according to a recent IBM survey.

Leave it to IBM to get the goods on the shopping experience of the future, but according to Big Blue, the consumers of the future will be more mobile, social and self-sufficient, willing to share details on themselves and their preferences in exchange for highly personalized relationships with their favorite stores.

This all comes from the results of a recent consumer survey conducted by IBM. The study also found that consumers' willingness to advocate for a particular retailer is becoming multifaceted, with consumers looking for a flawless experience, whether it is when they are researching, purchasing or receiving delivery.

The findings of the survey of 1,200 U.S. men and women aged 13 to 60 provide insights into the demands of the next-generation buying audience and highlight the areas where retailers could influence brand advocacy.

"The next generation of shoppers—the digital natives—view brand interaction in a different way, expecting retailers to deliver a seamless, omni-channel brand experience across all touch-points," John Stelzer, worldwide industry lead for Retail Smarter Commerce at IBM, said in a statement.

According to IBM, today's teenagers say they spend their time shopping on their mobile devices whether they are at home, on the move or in-store. They also prefer to use more self-service features than today's consumers and participate in communities and forums via social networks with consumers with similar interests. Teens expect their retailers to know them and all their transactions and deliver ads and promotions to them through social networking sites.

The study compared consumers aged 13 to 19, or "digital natives," with today's current shoppers, respondents in the 40- to 49-year-old group.

The IBM survey found the digital natives to be:

  • almost four times as likely to consider it important for a retailer to provide a mobile app to use on their smartphone or tablet (52 versus 14 percent);
  • twice as likely to consider it important for a retailer to establish a forum for like-minded consumers to share ideas with each other (54 versus 26 percent);
  • twice as likely to be comfortable receiving ads and promotions from a retailer through a social networking site (64 versus 37 percent);
  • nearly 1.5 times as likely to consider it important for a retailer to keep track of all that they've purchased from the retailer (regardless of whether it was in the store, online, via the call center, etc.) (67 versus 48 percent); and
  • nearly 1.5 times as likely to consider it important to provide self-service tools they can use in the store (80 versus 63 percent).

This study, part of IBM's Smarter Commerce initiative, examined what components of the commerce process have the greatest potential to strengthen or undermine a consumer's inclination to advocate a particular retailer to others. Smarter Commerce helps companies transform their business processes to deliver a complete, meaningful brand experience that deepens the relationship between retailer and consumer and increases customer satisfaction, trust and loyalty to create brand advocates.