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The school generation is determining future shopping habits

The school generation is determining future shopping habits

On the day that Tesco launched its new tablet, Hudl, commentators were obsessed with talk of crowded device markets and Tesco market shares in everything.

But the really interesting story was the piece that Tesco CEO Philip Clarke wrote in the Daily Telegraph, explaining the reality behind their thinking and how the ‘second curve’ is set to see Tescos riding high again.

It is all aimed at the young (the old being anyone over 21). The school leavers of very recent times. The people who do not immediately think of medication when they hear the word ‘tablet’.

Cultural Reference Points

Clarke cited the Beloit College in Wisconsin which produces an annual ‘mindset’ list to capture changing cultural reference points and to demonstrate how soon the new becomes the norm, with each new generation.

He said that UK students starting at university this term don’t need to study at friends’ houses, have always been able to shop online, their phones and cameras have always been in one device, they had a whiteboard not a blackboard at school and they have only ever lost touch with schoolmates if they choose to.

Petrol has always been unleaded and France has always been connected to the UK. These are the telling points that Clarke made. He did it to say that changes today are affecting us more profoundly than ever before, the digital world is having ‘a deep impact on emerging customers.’

Today’s shoppers do not display many books, not CDs nor DVDs. For them it’s all downloads. ‘Social media gives them the tools to craft an online image of themselves which they show to the world.’

They might share it along with opinions, likes/dislikes, talk about brands. And that’s where Tescos comes in.

Canny Tescos Ahead of the Curve

Clarke also mentioned a book called The Second Curve by Ian Morrison, in which ‘successful businesses evolve by understanding their changing markets and choosing the right time to move on.’

His conglomerate are preparing for ‘what its new generation of emerging customers will mean for our business.’ He is gracious enough to acknowledge that they must still serve older customers too, ‘everyone over 21.’

That’s what’s behind their purchase of blinkbox, of cafes and restaurants not branded with Tesco but part of the umbrella. And that’s why the new tablet.

He said, ‘everything about the school-leaving generation will change our business from how they are persuaded by a brand, product or idea to how they group together in socially structured economies to collaborate, barter, share and exchange.’

He has peopled his senior teams with ‘new talented people’ to help know the consumer before they know us.’ They are sponsoring a technology entrepreneur incubator in London called Rainmaking Loft.

He concluded (for now) with the thought that the USA spends between $7bn and $8bn a year on textbooks. They are now planning to give every school-age child in the country a taxpayer-funded tablet. ‘It may not make sense to a lot of teachers’, but will make perfect sense to the kids using them ‘and that’s who it really has to work for.’

Happy shopping, wherever you do it!

Other blogs on these kinds of topics:

Young and Unemployed? You Shouldn’t Be in This Digital Era! 17 September 2013

The Digital Economy Is No Longer an Add-On, It IS The Economy, 27 August 2013

Is Tescos Going to Be Your Top Holiday Destination? 7 August 2013

Shopping Online or On-screen, People Still Have to Shop, So What’s the Problem? 17 July 2013

Does Facebook Have Friends in All the Right Stores? 30 August 2012

Shock and Sell, Cry and Buy: the Slogans of Advertising, 13 December 2011

Augmented Reality Changes Shopping Virtually Forever, 28 November 2011

Every Little Helps in Store Wars, 13 October 2011

Carrying Brand Loyalty Too Far? 12 October 2011

Image: Intel Free Press