The “boomerang generation” poses a threat and opportunity for high street retailers

gen-boomerangWhile most marketers and retailers are familiar with the online shopping concepts of “showrooming” and “webrooming”, new research by e-consultancy Red Snapper suggests that the majority of UK online consumers are now “boomerooming” which is the habit of researching online, visiting a physical store to check out the physical product and then returning online to make a purchase at a lower price.

By comparison, “showrooming” occurs when consumers examine products in-store and then go online to find a cheaper price, while “webrooming” is the practice of researching products online before buying them in a bricks and mortar store.

According to researchers, almost two-thirds (62%) of UK consumers are engaged in “boomerooming” including 67% of women and 58% of men. Those aged 40-59 years-old are the most likely to indulge in such price comparison and purchase activity.

The results of the research are consistent with recent US research conducted by Merchant Warehouse, a Boston-based payment services firm that reported 69% of US smartphone users between 18-36 years-old have “webroomed” while 50% have “showroomed”.

The Merchant Warehouse’s research was interpreted as positive news for retailers as it pointed to consumers valuing the shopping experience of handling physical goods.

The UK research can be interpreted as being a wakeup call for British retailers that must now understand the whole consumer journey where social media has a big part to play, especially before the consumer purchase decision has been made.

“Our research has revealed that consumer trends are more complicated than many experts would have us believe. To simply say that more customers are willing to pay increased prices on the high street for the sake of convenience doesn’t seem to ring true.

“More consumers are researching products online in the first instance and making the journey to the physical store to see it, touch it and try it for real. Once they’re happy, it’s back online to seal the deal,” say the report’s authors.

One of my students on the MSc in international marketing at London Met Business School is currently researching the consumer journey for those who recently attended the Wireless Festival and why brand owners need to understand the consumer journey of these customer segments in order to drive incremental profits through social media networks.

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