A Blog Series on Shopper Marketing

By Cyndi Pyburn

There seems to be a generation who refuse to grow up: No career plan.  No mortgage. No marriage. No children. The life plan is as far as this weekend!  Irresponsible?   Immature?  Yes and they are strong in numbers.  The ‘Peter Pan’ generation as sometimes coined, is a sizeable group of 23-35 year olds who exist in a state of extended adolescence, avoiding the trappings of responsibility for as long as possible.  They hang-out on the ‘edge of adulthood’.  How did this apparent trend come about?

Perhaps instant gratification plays a role.  Instant gratification is the desire to experience pleasure or fulfillment without delay or deferment.  Basically, it’s when you want it; and you want it now.  Waiting is hard (delayed gratification) and there is an innate desire to have what we want when we want it, which is usually without any delay.  The thought of ‘adulting’ (debt, juggling careers, raising children, balancing work & life) is daunting and as such Millennials are stalling ‘growing up’.  While there are many things at play … a culture that values youth, parents that idolized and did everything for their children, a more complex and demanding job world, modern devices and information exchange … these seemingly disparate trends have paved the way for the notion of instant gratification.

The demand for instant results is leaching into every corner of our lives.  Smartphone apps eliminate the wait for a cab, a date, or a table at a hot restaurant. Movies and TV shows begin streaming in seconds.

“Companies like UberGrub Hub, and Amazon have forever changed the way consumers think about service and how they go about their daily lives. They are no longer willing to wait for a taxi on the corner without knowing when it will arrive or trust the restaurant that promises delivery within 45 minutes. Instead, consumers want as much information at their fingertips as possible and as soon as possible.  Today, we ‘Rent the Runway,’ ‘Zip car’ ourselves to and from the grocery store, and ‘Netflix  our shows. We want to own very little in order to consume more.”

  • A Look at the Retail Model of the Future, Forbes, Feb 2015

But experts caution that instant gratification comes at a price: It’s making us less patient.  It’s not just Gen Y, of course. Anyone who’s growled in frustration while a website loads or while on hold with a doctor’s office or waiting for the elevator at work knows tolerance for delay is in short supply. But impatience may be most pronounced among the young, wired nearly from birth.

Retailers, highly acute to the trend of impatience, are jumping into same-day delivery services.  In fact, there is a retail battle ensuing for same-day delivery supremacy.  Walmart and a slew of other retailers are challenging Amazon Prime.  Walmart launched Walmart-To-Go last, charging $10 for same-day delivery, though it’s not yet available here.  It is why you have people at Disney World paying for a pass so they don’t have to wait in line (see a recent episode of ‘Blackish’).   Many people don’t mind paying for things like same-day delivery.

Millennials are truly creating a shift in the retail landscape.  They have a one-click mentality as they’re not wired to think about ‘long-term’ any more.  Stores of the future will emphasize selling experiences and lifestyles over products.  Known as ‘experiencification’, Ypulse reports that 74% of 13-33 year olds would rather spend their money on experiences than products.  Talk about turning the retail store and marketing world upside down!  Some retailers have brought retailtainment and technology into their stores (see Sport Chek’s latest stores at Square One and Sherway Gardens) to stay ‘on trend’ to appeal to the impatient, easily distracted Millennial generation.

Take it one step further into the future and ‘Anticipatory shopping’ is on the horizon.   This is the idea of pre-emptive retail and not surprisingly, Amazon is in the lead.  Anticipatory shopping using data and analytics, to ultimately send something to you before you’ve ordered it –you could get your product before you knew you needed it!

Using predictive shipping analytics, Amazon’s “anticipatory” or “speculative” shipping system plans to ship products to customers before they place an order.  Amazon says it may box and ship products it expects customers in a specific geographic area will want—based on previous orders and other factors.  Packages could wait at warehouse hubs until an order arrives. This shipping strategy has the potential to take predictive analytics to the next level, allowing the data-savvy Amazon to greatly expand its base of loyal customers.

The future is upon us. No. The future is NOW.  From retail, to automotive to consumer goods, over the next five years, this so-called ‘psychic supply chain’ will have far reaching effects in nearly all industries.  The power of instant gratification knows no bounds.