Will Millennials Kill Traditional Retail? SIEC 2017 Offered some Insight

Will Millennials Kill Traditional Retail? SIEC 2017 Offered some Insight

Paris-based Retail and Real Estate Exhibition Siec 2017 closed its doors a few days ago with a 9% growth in attendance compared to last year. A positive trend that shows that physical retail still offers a promising outlook for both brands and investors.


As SIEC showcased, despite fear of oversupply, spectacular shopping centres projects throughout France, a conference provocatively called “Will Millennials Kill Traditional Retail” was being held nearby investors stands.

There is a saying that goes “Car created shopping centre, cellphone will destroy it”. According to the most pessimistic specialists, that is the fate traditional retail has to cope with in the near future.

Nonetheless, a comprehensive study of 60 millennials carried out by French survey company Enov shows inspiring and sometimes surprising insights that retailers should think about.


  • First of all, let’s keep in mind that the transformation rate in physical stores is 20 times higher than in e-commerce.
  • Traditional retail is first and foremost a social activity for the younger generation. Provided that three fundamental elements are seamlessly put together: qualified staff, availabilty of products and sensory experience. The more physical, the better. Here is a great perspective for retailers who design their store to deliver a memorable customer experience.
  • Digital native Millennials regret that they usually know more about product availability, prices and promotion than in-store staff itself. A major concern for retailers who have to deal with over-empowered customers when it comes to hire and train their employees.
  • Similarly, Millennials are noticing that physical stores are usually unable to keep track of their last purchase. Physical retail cookie is still an issue to tackle seriously.
  • The vast majority of French Millennials are sharing their customer experiences on social media with their communities. It’s even seen as a civic duty. Therefore, repetitive bad retail experiences are likely to ruin brand reputation fast.
  • Product customisation is very much appreciated. But, it cannot be achieved at any cost. Don’t count on Millennials to share their personal and intimate data to get it. We have a tendency to believe that social media platforms have killed privacy. Maybe not.
  • Traditional Loyalty programmes are to be re-invented. Millennials appreciate instant gratification and reject lengthy processes.
  • Store digitalisation is leading to a mixed assessment. Basically, Millennials go to physical stores to disconnect for a little while. Except if in-store digital facilities are truly efficient and practical, such as morphological sensors in fitting rooms or easy payment options. Retailers should think twice before installing massive screens if they think that it will be sufficient to lure the younger generation.
  • To wrap-up the survey, Millennials stated that successful shopping centres in the near future should combine sustainability and a creative mix of shopping and leisure line-up. In addition, malls should be animated as cultural venues  with creative events and contents all year round. Retail property companies already know this recipe for success. But the question and the challenge still remain how to execute it properly.