Finding out what your customers want is the first step towards building an attractive range that increases basket spend, visit frequency and store loyalty. When it comes to younger shoppers, there are plenty of opportunities for retailers to do all three. By creating an offer that caters to children, retailers can build a reputation for themselves among parents, while looking after the interests of young adults can create long-lasting loyalty among them and keep your offer fresh and cutting edge.

“Having something that appeals to the younger demographic will help your store’s sales in terms of basket spend,” says Jeet Bansi, Meon Valley Londis in Stratford-upon-Avon. “There’s not a shadow of a doubt that that’s happened in my store.”

The pestering power of children should never be underestimated when it comes to increasing the basket spend of parents already in store, so highlighting treats is essential. But it is important to make the products an appealing option for parents too through pricing. “We stick to price bands – 50p, 75p, £1,” says Sam Coldbeck, from Wharfedale Premier. “Everything is merchandised according to price, so the parents can say ‘You’ve got a pound to spend’ and the kids understand what they can get. That value is important because the sale is down to the parents.”

Once you have created that range of products that appeals to younger shoppers, it is worth promoting it on those platforms that appeal to that generation. “Social media works really well for letting people know, especially if you have a new range in,” says Coldbeck. That’s always our go-to as far as pushing the message out to people. With kids, it’s a little more sensitive, as you don’t want to overemphasise the fact you’re trying to sell to kids.”

Offer exciting new products

For Jeet Bansi, from Meon Valley Londis in Stratford-upon-Avon, it has been takeaway options that have helped to drive sales among his younger customers. He introduced a F’real milkshake machine and a Fwip gelato ice cream, both of which have seen enormous success when it comes to sales.

“Sales now are still very buoyant,” he says. “The children are all pestering their parents to buy them milkshakes, and parents can then use it as a special treat for them, because the product is good. It’s even popular with young adults.”

Younger shoppers are after new and interesting products as well. Bansi had Jimmy’s popcorn in his store, but when sales started to drop, he’s introduced Jimmy’s Coated Popcorn in three flavours, which does really well. “Anything niche and on the go, they want,” he says.

Connecting generations

Nico Ali, from Premier Jarrow in Tyneside, has found that the younger generation has visited his store more often, but more often than not they’ve been doing the shopping for older, vulnerable people in their community.

“They’ll buy things like pet food and toilet paper for their grandparents,” he says. “Then they buy sweets, pop and crisps, whatever they’re going to be eating while they’re going to deliver the rest of the shop.

“I think they’ve taken on some responsibility and they’ll still be doing it because most of these older people will not want to come out.” Ali encourages this altruism and often gives these younger shoppers a free soft drink. “It helps me out, because it means we don’t have to deliver that shop ourselves.

“It’s also pushing the younger generation to understand more and help people.”

Sweets and magazines still key

Mark Dudden’s Albany News store in Cardiff, has a reputation as a store that specialises in magazines, so it is perhaps no surprise that he has the stock and range to make a lot of magazine sales
to all ages. He has a display dedicated to children’s magazines that is very popular with customers and important to him. Magazines are categorised according to age and gender to make things easier for children and parents alike.

“Kids often want to go for the free gifts on the front of the magazines,” he says. “There’s currently a campaign to get rid of them because of the plastic, and that would be a blow because they’re a real selling point.”

Dudden sources magazines on request – with Dot and Anorak his two most recent additions. “They’re thought-provoking, gender neutral and good for parents who want a bit more substance,” he says.

Looking after the youngsters

While the checkout used to be a hotspot for impulse purchases especially among younger customers, the pandemic has reduced options there significantly.

However, Sam Coldbeck, from Wharfedale Premier, has instead pushed masks and hand sanitiser near her tills and makes sure that the offer is appealing to younger customers as well.

“Face masks have been very big since school kids started being expected to wear them,” she says. “We started stocking ones that were more interesting than the standard masks – things with patterns that would appeal to kids. We are there to cover all the bases really.”

Stationery was another winner for Coldbeck, with parents needing all the help they could get in home-schooling their children during Covid-19. She stocked chalkboards and educational toys to tap into demand and help parents.”